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: “Meet Mikino, the sweet little tiger tabby snuggled up in my arms. He helped me get through the loss of my first beloved furry angel when she succumbed to cancer. He taught me that I can love again, in a new way. He’s a loving and comforting presence in my life. Mikino (Japanese for beautiful beginning) helps me jump the everyday hurdles that come with mental illness and chronic pain. He loves sleeping with me on my pillow at night. I call him my little dream catcher.”