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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: “Faces of pain, tirelessly treading in dark murky waters to keep from sinking into a sea of sadness. I don’t see pain as something to run away from or avoid. Pain is something I seek to move through, as i reach for the lesson being offered, that I may learn from it, strengthen and grow.
I draped my face with the gray-scale version of a Seattle sunrise, through my bedroom window, because when I move through my pain, it clears the path for a new dawn, a new day. It is in this moment that I can feel the sun rising, on the horizon of hope, in my soul. The portrait of my face was photographed in my shower using the light coming in from my bathroom window, I then mirrored the image in Adobe Photoshop CS and incorporated the Seattle sunrise.”