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Photo taken by contributor Jaeda DeWalt, a conceptual self-portrait artist in her forties from Seattle, Washington. Her battles with mental illness hearken back to her earliest memories, at age 4, when she became obsessed with the number four and performed exhaustive rituals in patterns of four. During her teen years, she began noticing extreme mood swings, manic one moment and depressed the next, and in her late 20′s she finally sought treatment and was diagnosed with Bipolar, OCD, PTSD, Anxiety, and ADHD. Her doctors told her they believed the mental illness was brought on by a severe concussion she sustained at age two, along with the trauma of being sexually abused as a child into her young adult years. Her life was filled with self-destructive coping methods until she went full force into creating, in her mid-twenties. The process of creating and putting herself in front of the camera felt cathartic, liberating and healing. The photographic medium opened up a new world to her and ignited a kind of passion within that she didn’t even know she was capable of experiencing. She has been on an ever-evolving, healing journey, ever since.
About this photo: “This image hearkens back to my childhood and the invisible tattoos of CSA (child sexual abuse). I believe this is what triggered my OCD, which started very young. For the longest time I have felt unworthy, damaged, tainted and broken.
This was a challenging image to create, both emotionally and artistically. Despite my chaotic mind, I am obsessed with cleanliness and order. I mixed coffee grounds with body oil to create the look of dirt on my skin and wrapped my chest in brown packing paper.
Art is my healing vessel. I’ve come along way in my journey of survival and know I still have a long way to go. My goal in creating this was not just to heal myself but to give a voice to others who struggle with similar trauma from their past. We can not heal so long as we remain shrouded in silence, secrets and shame.”