Finding My Light in the Darkness

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: “Mental illness requires so much strength of spirit. I never know when another intense period of struggle will engulf me. Somehow, I always manage to find my way through, but even so – I’ve had some close calls. It’s during these dark episodes that I find out just what I’m made of and often times, I become stronger than I ever knew I could be. Which is why I titled this self-portrait, Finding My Light in the Darkness. This goes out to all my brother and sisters out there, struggling with mental illness and those that love them. You are not alone.

Find more from Jaeda at FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

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12 thoughts on “Finding My Light in the Darkness

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    1. Thank you, Dave :). I am glad you have photography as a wonderful escape. Creative expression is my saving grace! In regards to psychoanaleptics, the path to wellness is so unique to each individual. I hope they are serving you well. PEACE and LIGHT 🙂

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  1. wow ,Jaeda I know we pay so much attention to outside beauty ,but you are beautifull .You are more beautifull than a human .Someone once asked me why do I always tell women they are beautiful ,because we are ,we dont hear it enough we dont say it enough ..to each other .After feeling worthless for so long I realised that my photography wasnt too bad,then I get the honor to photograph women and I see their beauty from inside shining out ..it makes me emotional .My Favourite part is after a shoot ..the shy girl will say …’when can I see my pics”..they phone me 10 minutes after I get home .Nothing can ever give me more joy than that .I gave her confidence even if it was for that day .To me you look like the Queen of Hearts in this image .Your images are magical ,and healing ,you have light !!!

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    1. Cla-c, I am so happy you have joined the Broken Light Collective and i look forward to seeing more of your work!

      When it comes to women and beauty in all of its fascinating forms–we should celebrate it and each other. I believe in the sacred sisterhood of women :). And i thank you for the attentive and thoughtful comments you have shared with me.

      You have special way of making others feel valued, validated, seen and appreciated. You seem very intuitive to what others need. And i bet it is the best feeling in the world, when someone sees the beauty in themselves through the lens of your camera, your spirit and your soul. And it must feel amazing to experience the excitement and joy they feel when they first see those pictures– that’s priceless. What a wonderful gift to give others.

      It sounds like photography is a positive outlet for your creativity, a way to process your feelings and experiences. It’s a way to connect to and uplift, those around you. I am glad our paths have crossed. I relate to so much of what you express! Thank you 🙂

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  2. thank you J ,Im so happy too .Thank you for your words .I can not tell you how happy I am our paths have crossed too .I have this corny saying that some women are soulsisters .You inspire me and I am such a fan of your work .Cant wait to see your work .On our path to healing we meet the ‘good the bad and the ugly ”and that all shapes us .I have a sinister belief in good and evil .We FIGHT THAT EVIL TOGETHER right .

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