Subconsciously scribbling to cope with stress has evolved into a lifetime love of art for Rami Jackson. Favouring the ‘zentangle’ design of repetitive patterns, art helps calm Rami’s ‘intensely emotional’ mind.
“Mood swings have always been a part of my life and I was diagnosed with depression in my early 20s. But it wasn’t until a particularly toxic workplace when I reached breaking point. I remember during my darkest days being at a conference where the speaker on stage said, ‘close your eyes and picture yourself in five years’ time’. I literally saw myself rolling on the floor crying because I felt so trapped and suffocated. I knew something in my life needed to change.”
Rami left that job and made some positive changes in her life. Things got better for a time, however recently she had a setback which resulted in a catalyst moment of seeking support.
“I had a serious mental breakdown at work, completely lost it and stormed out screaming. I realised this was not normal behaviour and I decided to get some real help.”
While art helped for relaxing and meditative purposes, Rami found that professional guidance enabled her to learn tools and techniques for better managing her emotions and finding balance.
“I have tried counselling before but found that counsellors kind of irritate me, like, ‘how does that make you feel?’ It doesn’t work for me. I found that practical techniques were far more valuable. From my mental health coach, I got ideas and really good ways of seeing things differently and approaching things differently. I got a new perspective.”
While Rami remains realistic about her limitations, she’s feeling empowered to make positive change in the areas she can.
“I know my mental health is not going to be magically fixed by doing a couple of therapy sessions and then just being like, ‘okay wow I’m cured, look at me, I’m all better’ because it’s actually part of my personality. There’s every chance in 10 years’ time I will have another breakdown for some reason – but the difference is I am now learning how to handle my emotions better.”
|"Masks" by Rami Jackson on display at the 2022 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.
Exhibiting in the 2022 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition provided a much-needed lift to Rami’s spirit and self-esteem, further solidified when she found out her painting had sold!
“It was really cool to be involved in the exhibition, I’ll definitely be back next year. I was there on opening night seeing people getting red dots on their art, thinking, ‘wow that’s really good for them’. The next morning, I checked out Instagram and thought I saw a red dot next to my painting – I immediately jumped on the train and raced over to the city to have a look! It was so exciting!”
Rami believes the exhibition serves to normalise mental illness, while increasing opportunities for conversation and ultimately, acceptance.
“I think there needs to be more education and discussion around how to deal with people who have depression and other conditions. After my breakdown, people were weird around me. I mean, that hurts. I wanted them to understand that it’s not personal, it was just a mental breakdown and I’m doing my best to get help.”
While she hasn’t always been kind and accepting of herself, Rami is working hard to flex her self-compassion muscle. It’s something that gets easier with time – and it makes for a calmer, more peaceful life.
“I used to get really annoyed when I started going backwards again. Right now, I’m just trying to take baby steps, take the pressure off and just enjoy my life. I’m trying to appreciate the little moments.”