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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: “I wanted to create a sense of frenetic darkness, hence the extreme make-up, lighting, hints of movement and motion. I can only speak to my own experience, but… I feel like the gift is creativity, the price of admission, is a little bit of crazy and I am okay with that. Accepting the up and down cycles, rather than working against them trying to be “normal,” is key.
The complicated mental machinery of my mind has become the nuts and bolts of my creative process, my art… BUT.. unlike my computer, my mind does not come with an optional shut-down mode, reboot, or stand-by. This means I am always too much and never enough in all that I am, all that I experience and all that I do. In the real world, it is a challenging way to exist, a tiring way to live. I have horrible bouts of insomnia due to my inability to shut down my mind. Creative work spins me into manic episodes.”