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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 four, 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, Anxiety, ADHD, and PTSD from 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: “The Black Swan – Self Portrait by Jaeda DeWalt
I have felt like an outsider all my life due to a lack of love in my childhood, the abuse, and early manifestations of mental illness. I was the black sheep, a misfit. As a child, I marched to my own unique beat. My mother disliked the way I looked physically and was also bothered by my strong-willed, sensitive and creative nature. I allowed her to make me feel like the ugliest, weirdest kid, on the face of the earth and she’d often ask, ‘Why can’t you act normal?’
As an adult, I began to realize these were my mother’s issues and they needn’t remain mine. I finally embraced my eccentricity, creativity, and exotic physicality. This image symbolizes that transformation.”