When Yu Chi-shing, a consultant psychiatrist at Kwai Chung Hospital, treats someone who suffers from depression, he has a special connection with the patient: Dr Yu was once deeply depressed himself, so much so, he once tried to kill himself. It was his mother's illness that first attracted him to psychiatry. She became schizophrenic after giving birth to him and his younger brother. But eight years ago, Dr Yu began to suffer from insomnia, and could not concentrate. He believed he had become a burden on his colleagues. Eventually he began to entertain the thought of suicide. 'It was a shame to be suffering from depression,' he said. 'I asked myself, 'Why do I have this kind of illness?' Dr Yu realised that he had unrealistically high expectations of himself, ones that were difficult to meet. This 'must not lose' personality and drive to 'achieve excellent performance' was placing him under too much pressure. Despite his high standards and good academic record, junior doctors at Tuen Mun Psychiatric Centre, where he had worked for several years, were being promoted ahead of him. Eventually he decided to take more than two months leave, re-evaluate his life, and try to relax. But he realised he could not change anything by running away from his job, and so decided to find a more natural solution to his problems. 'There are ups and downs in your life,' Dr Yu said. 'Although you may be on a dark side, you will soon see the dawn. It is good to stand higher, look farther and live happier.' Dr Yu said his experiences from his early life at a public housing estate could have contributed to his depression. Dr Yu said his mother developed schizophrenia after giving birth to him and his younger brother and developed a fear that someone would hurt her children. 'She would always keep us at home and stop us from going to school.' Other people were afraid they would be hurt by Dr Yu's mother - children dubbed him the 'son of a crazy woman', and threw stones and laughed at him. So to escape his tormentors, he would seek refuge in the library after school. 'The library was my safe place.' Good grades soon followed, and by the time he left secondary school, he had settled on a career as a doctor. He was accepted to the University of Hong Kong medical school, and pursued further studies in England after graduation. Having gone through difficult emotional times, Dr Yu discovered that the best approach was to adopt a positive frame of mind. He now keeps a diary in which he records how he feels and should he start to descend into negative emotions, he knows he has to do something. 'If I have a low mark, I tell myself that I should take a holiday to relax,' he said. He also joined the Joyful (Mental Health) Foundation, an organisation that aims to bring positive messages about mental health to others. The foundation will be a beneficiary of an exhibition and charity sale which runs until May 31 at Sha Tin New Town Plaza, with the theme of cheering up the public amid the economic downturn. Drawing upon his own experiences, he had this to say to people dealing with the economic hard times. 'The adverse situation will go away eventually. You should sharpen your tools. Both friends and family support are important to help you deal with problems. You should know more about stress and pressure and how to cope with it.