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Photo taken by contributor Jaeda DeWalt, a conceptual self-portrait artist in her forties from Seattle, Washington. Jaeda’s 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. She struggled with her mental health throughout her childhood and teen years until her late twenties when she finally sought treatment and was diagnosed with Bipolar, OCD, PTSD, Anxiety, and ADHD. Her doctors told her that they believed the mental illness was triggered 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: “As someone that struggles with crippling panic attacks, I have learned that worry can conjure up storms of self-destruction. It invites the heavy clouds of chaos, anxiety and fear, to loom over our everyday existence. Pouring down on us like acid rain—corroding our happiness, hopes and dreams. We need to replace the dark atmosphere of worry with the loving light of the present moment. And trust that we have the inner-wisdom and strength to handle whatever the winds of change may bring.”