Interview with Mr. Alan Ng

A BRUISED REED HE WILL NOT BREAK:

FROM MENTAL ILLNESS TO WHOLENESS

 

An interview with Mr Alan Ng by Dr Boey ML 1 March 2020

BML: Thank you Alan for agreeing to share your story with us. Let me begin by asking you to share a little about your childhood.

Alan: I am the 9th child of a huge family of 10 children. Mum is a housewife and dad worked as a van-driver. Ours was a poor family and our parents worked very hard to sustain the family. Mum supplemented dad’s income by accepting a few odd jobs that are home-based. My siblings and I enjoyed a nice meal of chicken and wore new clothes only during the Chinese New Year. Dad became an alcoholic and often returned home drunk, angry and shouting. I felt disappointed and angry especially when I was compared myself with some of my school mates who were better off than me materially.

BML: Male citizens are enlisted in National Service (NS) at age 18. What was your experience like in NS?

Alan: In the first 3 months, I noticed that a senior officer was particularly kind towards me. He would bring me food and will not punish me though I made mistakes, unlike his treatment of my colleagues. One night, this officer woke me at midnight and invited me to his room where he sexually harassed me. I was terrified and ran away from him and tried to avoid him at all cost. Despite this, the sexual molestation continued several times. Within 3 months, I suffered a mental breakdown and shared this traumatic experience with my mother and sister. They melted in tears and anger and immediately sought help from a Member of Parliament at our neighbourhood constituency. I was later transferred to another facility.

The nightmare did not end as I initially expected. I had to attend court to defend myself and faced the recurrent, brutal questioning from lawyers and strange faces of people in the court gallery. After 2 court sessions, the officer pleaded guilty and I was vindicated.

BML: You spoke about your “nightmares”. Can you describe them?

Alan: Yes. I had flashbacks of the sexual molestation and cringed at the sound of the officer’s footsteps towards my bunker room. I lived in fear and terror.

BML: What was life like after you completed your NS?

Alan: I worked in my family business in manufacturing. Our family financial situation improved substantially over the years. I had savings in the bank, a steady girlfriend and dreamt of having a family of my own and a flat, like any ordinary person in Singapore.

BML: What changes took place thereafter?

Alan: At 27 years old, I behaved like Santa Claus. I gave away my savings and possessions to my friends; withdrew from my family and hid in my room for 18 months. I felt sad, lonely and became depressed. My family was bewildered by my mood changes and odd behaviour, as there was no family history of mental illness. I consulted several private psychiatrists, but my condition did not improve. I attempted suicide many times. I was repeatedly hospitalized in both private institutions and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). I was diagnosed with Post- traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Bipolar Disease. I took medications daily and received Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT). My psychiatrists informed me that I will be on life-long medications and to expect intermittent hospitalizations. I felt so miserable, lost and hopeless.

BML: How did your family members, respond to your illness?

Alan: They were extremely concerned and caring. My second sister, Iris visited me weekly and invited me to the Lighthouse Evangelism Church. I flatly refused her offers. Finally, I caved in to her persistence and in year 2006, I stepped into the church for the first time. I did not like the church service. On the second visit, I stood inside the auditorium, cried out to God with all my heart for His help. My heart seared with unfathomable pain; no one seemed to understand

my pain. Not my family, neither my doctors. I felt useless and a failure. I was totally broken. On that day, I surrendered my life to Him! I attended church service regularly for the next 2 years.

BML: How did your belief in God change your life?

Alan: In every aspect.

First, in the area of my health. 2010 was a watershed year. I received a call from a Christian psychiatrist from IMH, Dr Joseph Leong. He informed me that he will manage my condition and assured me that I will be well. Under his management, I was able to be weaned off my medications and in 2015, I was discharged from follow-up, without any medications. I was free from nightmares, depression, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. The deep pain and emotional scars I suffered in NS was totally lifted by the Lord. I was healed.

Second, God answered many of my prayers. I read the Bible daily and pray to Him for guidance and help. Whatever He tells me to do, I will obey. He answered my longing to be baptized by age 50. The baptism took place on 25th December 2018. In addition, I am now happily married to a nurse. I work as a Healthcare assistant in a Christian Nursing home.

BML: Are there any particular blessings you wish to mention?

Alan: God sent many of His children to bless me in my walk with Him. Some are pastors, others fellow-believers in Christ. They have encouraged me and prayed for me. I am deeply grateful for God’s provision of this wide community of faithful saints who have been such a blessing to me. I received 2 awards: In 2014, an outstanding award for helping others with mental illnesses and in 2017, I was a recipient of the Healthcare Humanity Award (HHA), Honorable Mention award. The award recognizes healthcare professionals who have gone beyond the call of duty and made a difference to the healthcare community.

God also sovereignly opened the door for me to attend a 3 month Certificate Course in Peer Support (February 2020). My application for the training was successful. My deep desire is to be equipped to assist people suffering from mental illnesses. I have received commendable and positive feedback from my trainers.

BML: Is there a final message you want to give to our readers?

Alan: God is real. He is Almighty and He heals. I want others to know about Him. I am His witness. I received by grace, through faith, His salvation, healing and transformation. He allowed me to go through 15 years of suffering as a patient with mental illness. The pain is not wasted or in vain. In and through it all, He is equipping me to display His glory. Only in Him is there purpose and hope. Patients with mental illness don’t need to lose heart. He heals. I am His voice, bringing His message of hope and salvation to all.

BML: Thank you very much Alan, for your inspiring testimony. To God be the glory!

 

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