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: “It was one of those days. I was angry and tired of fighting the dark thoughts. I felt so worn down by mental illness. Reduced to raw remnants, isolated, hopeless—completely unraveled by these demons run amok in my mind. So I surrendered, letting myself sink into the downward spiral of despair. I welcomed depression in, like an old melancholy friend. I let its winter chill me to the bone with a landscape that was cold and quiet, bleak and barren. It was almost peaceful, in its own morbid way.”