When Sharon Au was suicidal, her mum's unexpected response was the wake-up call she needed
Her mother’s level-headedness and comforting words were just the antidote former actress Sharon Au needed in her darkest hour.
In an episode of radio DJ Jean Danker's podcast R U Okay? released on Wednesday (April 13), Au, 46, candidly spoke about her mental health struggles from a decade ago.
Danker had referenced a 2018 article that Au had written for Lianhe Zaobao where she talked about dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and depression after the 2011 Japan earthquake. Au was studying there at the time and the disaster occured the month she was planning to return home.
Au said she couldn't remember what exactly drove her to feeling despondent, but she knew she had to confide in her mother.
"It wasn't like 'Mum, I'm gonna kill myself.' It was more like 'I don't want to live,'” she said.
After hearing her daughter's words, Au's mother simply said: "I really just want you to be okay. And if you don't think you're okay anymore in this sphere, okay, you go, I will pray for you. I'm sure the Lord will be taking care of you... I'm sure he'll do a much better job than me."
Looking back, Au is glad her mother didn't "do the melodramatic thing".
"If she had broken down and gone hysterical, I think it would have made me feel worse. It probably would have really driven me to do something silly."
She added: "Her stance made me [go] 'Sharon Au, wake the f***up! How can you leave your mother sitting there, thinking that she has not done her job and she can't do anything, and you want to leave her?'"
"I told myself, oh my god, I'm not going to die... let me see what I can do. So that woke me up."
Au then threw herself into her work, and took on whatever Mediacorp had to offer at the time.
"I just made myself very busy so that I didn't just wallow at home and think of ways to end my life."
At one point, her mother had asked her church congregation to pray for her daughter’s well-being – a move which did not go down well with Au initially.
She even lashed out at her mother as she felt her reputation had been tarnished.
"This was one of the worst things that I've ever said to my mum... but even after my outburst and being completely unfilial and unreasonable, my mum said, 'My point is, one counsellor stepped forward... and told me she would like to speak to you.'"
Au then began counselling sessions with the person and was eventually referred to a medical institution that prescribed her medication.
Au, who resigned from MediaCorp in 2018 and is now an investment director in a private equity firm based in Paris, noted that medications aren't a permanent solution for those suffering from mental health conditions, and that they're more of a "temporary suppressant".
"Unless you've resolved all your past hurt and all the trauma, you shouldn't jump straight into taking medication. There are different stages. That's why it's really important to seek professional help."
Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019
Care Corner Counselling Centre (Mandarin): 1800-353-5800
Institute of Mental Health's Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222
Silver Ribbon: 6386-1928