Dr. Tsang Fan Kwong
"Life is a winding road. During tough times, embrace the pain, lean into the discomfort. If you can do that, you'll learn to appreciate suffering and the strength you'll gain as a result."
After my Fifth Form exams, I took part in a visit to Castle Peak Hospital. Beds were crammed into every ward and even the hallways were lined with folding beds. The hospital was crowded with patients, with more than 2,000 patients and only 20 or so doctors to care for them.
The senior psychiatrist looked at us and said, "There are too many patients here and too few doctors are willing to come here to work. If you study medicine someday, I hope you will come back to work at Castle Peak after graduation." His words stuck with me and I made up my mind - if I was accepted to medical school, I would become a psychiatrist. Two years later in a medical school orientation night, when the rest of my classmates chose to specialise in pediatrics and cardiology, I was the only one who chose psychiatry.
I started practicing medicine more than 30 years ago. At the time, there was a lot of fear and discrimination against those with mental illnesses, but I never shied away from telling people that I was a psychiatrist. One time when Castle Peak Hospital hosted an open day for the public, I designed a game for visitors to identify those who were mentally ill from a set of headshots. Of course, everyone guessed incorrectly - no one in the photos was mentally ill, I simply wanted to challenge their preconceptions of mental illness.
From the outside, it looks like my life has been smooth sailing - I did well in school, and later became a doctor. But the reality hasn't been quite so smooth. In the 1990’s, I acquired a lot of debt after losing a significant amount of investments. With three kids to support, I was under a lot of pressure, but I chose to take a positive approach. I took on a number of part-time jobs writing columns in various publications. It took a full 10 years to pay off the debt. Looking back on that experience now, it already doesn't seem as big as it felt back then.
Our world is increasingly complex. I encourage young people to have courage when facing new challenges. In the process of confronting problems, you'll get stronger and you'll find that the problem isn't as difficult as you initially imagined. Regular exercise and adequate sleep will also help you to relax and think with a clear mind.