Crystal sings about overcoming Spasmodic Dysphonia and hopelessness.
As a child, the earliest memories of Dad were of him singing. He sang everywhere, and all the time. His singing was joyfully infectious; singing to himself and to my family was part of everyday life.
That was how I grew up. Just like Dad, I shared my feelings and joy with others through songs. I wrote them, I sang them. It was not about performing or being artsy; singing was me being me.
Everything changed in 2011.
My voice started to have involuntary breaks and there was a persistent strain. The general practitioner thought it was throat inflammation. Months later, my condition did not improve and the specialist I consulted was still unsure of its cause. It took even more months of frustrating tests with a top specialist before a diagnosis was given. I had developed Spasmodic Dysphonia (SD).
SD is not the common sore throat; it is a neurological disorder that causes the part of my brain that controls speech to go amok. I could neither sing fluidly nor talk without having a strangled tone. My loved ones could not understand me amidst my uncontrolled vocal spasms.
I was devastated. I was robbed of singing, robbed of joy, and robbed of life. This is only a nightmare, I told myself, I will wake up one day and all will be fine. But days rolled into months, and all was not fine. As my condition worsened, I shunned social gatherings and avoided people altogether. Any hope of the restoration of my voice eroded, and depression set in.
God seemed so distant, deaf to my cries, nonchalant to my sufferings.“God! Why aren’t You healing me? Don’t You heal? The Bible is so full of promises for healing. Why am I not healed?” Doubts and fears seared through my mind in every waking moment. God seemed so distant, deaf to my cries, nonchalant to my sufferings. In my depression, a close friend encouraged me to trust in God. She reminded me that singing was God’s gift to me and He would surely heal me. She even challenged me to write a song to perform at her wedding. I could not believe that my condition would improve, much less be able to sing! Although I was baffled by her insistent faith, I was also moved by it, and I decided to try.
The wedding day came. Up on the stage with a face downcast, my spasms and stuttering persisted. Hopeless. Before I could slip away, the audience came up to share about how touched they were to see me holding onto hope. In tears, they came forward to hug me, leaving me speechless.
That was my turning point and God spoke.
“Sing! O barren one.”
This phrase from the Bible kept ringing in my head through the night. God was telling me to sing in my hopelessness! I did not have to worry about how well I sang because God is my hope, my reason to sing, and my REASON TO LIVE. He will replace my emptiness with His love.
As this realisation dawned upon me, I started to sing about my hope in God despite my condition. I began to see that although disrupted by SD, my voice was given by Him to speak to people in broken communities who are rejected by family and society. There are many who are thirsting for the same hope, something that only God can give!
My miserable wintry life finally melted away into a hopeful spring. As I shared with people about the promises that God has for them, the song There’ll Be Spring was birthed. By 2012, I fully recovered from depression.
I lost my voice, but I gained hope.Today, my voice has been restored by about 70% and the stuttering is now barely perceivable. Through this journey of SD, I see God’s miraculous hand in changing my life and impacting others, and I do believe that He will heal me completely one day. Looking back, I lost my voice, but I gained hope. If experiencing SD was the only way for this to happen, I would still choose this path.
Do you think there can be hope even in distress?