Anyone who’s been through depression knows it’s not something you conquer once and are done with – depression is a constant companion that dips in and out of your life over the years. Jacob Sarra says the trick to coping is connecting with yourself and identifying your triggers.
“20 years ago, I said to someone, ‘I think I might have depression’ and they said, ‘what do you have to be depressed about?’ There wasn’t the awareness or support available as there is now – it wasn’t spoken about. There were days when I’d come home from work and stay in bed for four days until it was time to go back to work. Not a lot of people knew what I was going through.”
“The worst of my depression was 20 years ago, but there is always the feeling that you could easily sink back into it. The thing that’s kept me on track is self-awareness, looking inwards and recognising what works for me. I don’t rely on drugs or alcohol – you’d be more likely to find me with a chocolate bar. I also love chilling out with music, exercising and getting outside in the sun and nature.”
Art has always been an interest area of Jacob’s, but it took on greater meaning after he welcomed his two daughters, now aged two and four.
“When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I took to the old World Book Encyclopedias to research these great renaissance artists that the turtles were named after. Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me be a ninja so I guess I became an artist instead!”
“My girls have motivated me to take my art more seriously, as I want to tell the story of family and inspire them to tell their own stories. Already the girls have shown great interest in art and have found their own distinct styles. It’s a joy to share this important part of my life with them.”
Jacob describes his style as contemporary Aboriginal art, which is a continuation and adaptation of the art his father once created. It heavily features his family and themes of nature, as well as the stars and Milky Way, which never fail to fill him with wonder and awe.
“I have found that my style has changed since my daughters were born – I am opting for more feminine colour choices now, which often come to me just through sitting and playing with the girls. There is inspiration everywhere. Recently I collaborated with my four-year-old, with that piece sold at the Ipswich Art Show.”
With two little daughters, along with his tribe of three step-sons and an older step-daughter, there’s no denying life is busy for Jacob. He’s grateful to have art as a vital pillar that helps bring peace and balance to his life. He hopes that by sharing his story, others are inspired to find what works for them.
“I’ve obviously been in dark places, and I’ve had friends who have been in dark places and haven’t come out. It’s hard, because there’s never been a better time to talk about mental health, and there’s never been more resources available, but still people are hesitant to admit they are struggling.”
“To anyone who’s having a hard time, I’d say the first step is getting a good gauge of your feelings, so you can identify your emotions, get on top of issues early and seek help when you need it. If you know you start to feel low after a few drinks, take care of yourself by avoiding that behaviour. It’s all about figuring out what works for you.”