Ruby’s Story

A study done by headspace in 2020 showed that 1 in 3 young Australians reported high to very high levels of distress (34%).

 It’s not surprising really, with the uncertainty of life around COVID, the stress of school, the impact of social media, and for some, just balancing life, that this number is so high.

 In 2019, Ruby Klass started to notice things changing. The world wasn’t quite as bright as it had once been. Ruby is a brave Year 12 student at Santa Maria College who struggles with depression and anxiety. We were introduced to Ruby and the beautiful way she supports herself and her wellbeing. Ruby was happy for us to share her story with our community.

"For me, depression is like waves in the ocean."

What’s it like for you when you are depressed? 

All people experience depression differently. For me, depression is like waves in the ocean. Emotions and pain swell, getting bigger and bigger until it tips and hits the shore. Waves can be big or small and can last for weeks, months or years. However, the water will always return to the sea, it might take a while, but the water will settle eventually. Over time you learn how to manage the waves.

 I manage my waves by painting. I take the emotions from the waves and put them into my paintings (which ironically are done with watercolour). This helps me stay afloat a little better. It doesn’t take away the struggle and pain, but it helps me mentally manage them.

How does painting help you in those times?

For me, it is important to keep my hands and brain busy during difficult times so as to not let myself get stuck in bed. Painting lets me put my emotions onto paper and create something beautiful from deeply negative feelings. It lets my brain relax whilst still being active. From that, I can create beautiful things that I can share with others, which brings joy to both myself and others.

When did you start to paint?

I’ve done art since Year 7; however, I don’t think I really understood and developed skills for art until I moved to Santa Maria in Year 10. I learnt a lot of different skills and techniques between then and now and have been introduced to different mediums such as watercolours and oils over this time as well.

Have you always been artistic?

I wouldn’t say I’ve always been particularly artistic however I’ve always been very crafty, and I was a very hands-on learner as a child. My mum did a lot of scrapbooking when I was younger and I would often do it with her, and through primary school I really enjoyed drawing.

Your art seems to focus on nature, why is that?

Being connected and focussed on the world around me is very important for me, being able to acknowledge and appreciate the small pretty things helps keep me grounded and aware of my surroundings. Painting nature helps me reflect on the enjoyment I get seeing and being outside. There is something so innately beautiful about nature and I just adore painting it.

You told us you find more joy in sharing your art with others, can you elaborate on this?

I often put a lot of emotion into my paintings, so when I look at them, I often get frustrated as my painting comes from a place of pain. However, others find so much enjoyment in my art. Sharing it enables me to part with those emotions and in turn it puts a smile on someone’s face.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I don’t really have a person who inspires me per se… I find inspiration in the world around me.

What do you want to do when you leave school? 

I want to take a gap year to travel and reconnect with myself and heal mentally and physically. After that, I would like to pursue a pathway in foreign affairs/government or psychology.

What advice would you give to girls who are struggling with their mental health?

Don’t push away the people that love you, you just can’t. They are there to help you whether you like it or not. They are there so you can share your struggles. You are not a burden to carry, and they are there to help carry your struggles when you can’t. Please share your feelings, the longer you sit alone with them the bigger they will become. You are allowed to feel ‘not ok’. That is totally valid. Feel your emotions, acknowledge they are there, claim them, and work on getting back to feeling ‘ok’ whether that be having a nap, taking some ‘me’ time, having a bath, talking to someone about it etc.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Ruby. You are an inspiration and a beautiful artist.

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