Invisible Tattoos

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.”

Find more from Jaeda at FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

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8 thoughts on “Invisible Tattoos

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  1. Having not suffered as you have, I find it sad that I have no credible way to say that I understand or feel your pain and know that it would be shaming to you (not to mention stupid of me) to say that I do. But I can say that your art speaks to me on a level that is visceral and real and invokes a spirit of compassion and admiration that is immediate and strong.

    Thank you and God bless you!

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  2. This shows the power you have recaptured from those who tried to take it from you. A wonderful image – remember your roots have been buried in someone else’s dirt, not your own, and this turns the tables beautifully. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Speaking out in such a strong and powerful way is most definitely an inspiration to others who have experienced similar traumas in their lives. No doubt with your OCD this was as you said, a very difficult preparation in creating an above and beyond self portrait. My hope is that you not only continue to survive, but thrive. Thank you for sharing at such a personal level.

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  4. I’m so glad you’re brave enough to put this out there and wrestle so directly with your demons. It makes sense that the early concussion played an important part in your challenges, and the obsessions resulted from abuse at such a young age. Where else could you turn? But now you’ve picked yourself up and have the tools to work with the challenges. Like our dark Seattle weather with its unpredictable sunbreaks, you shine the light.

    Like

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