self portrait


This, very powerful photo and caption, moved me. Heidi keeps a wonderful blog and has often been supportive of my work so this is my way of supporting her. Well done Heidi and hope you are ok.

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Photo taken by contributor Heidi Spitzig, a 37-year-old woman from the Finger Lakes region of New York.  Heidi is a survivor of childhood sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse and lives with anxiety, depression, PTSD, and DID. She believes in the healing power of the creative process and uses photography as a way to remain present and connected to the beauty found in the natural world. Heidi also enjoys writing, painting, drawing, and many other forms of creative self-expression. She has a Masters degree in Psychology and works as a teacher and an expressive arts facilitator.

About this photo: “I took this photo when I was at the bottom of a pretty intense depressive episode. Depression can reek havoc on the way I think, which then clouds my perception. People and places can seem inaccessible, like I don’t have the right to take up space. Before I took this picture, I felt an overwhelming sense of shame that left me isolated to the point of believing I was completely alone. I needed to feel connected to something, so I went into the woods with my camera. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do, but I found myself kind of watch myself take a series of self-portraits. I say “watch myself” because that’s how it felt to take the pictures — I felt too vulnerable to be a part of it, so I watched myself go through the process in a pretty detached/dissociated way. It wasn’t until I got home and began editing the photos that I realized I was trying to send a message to myself. Once I understood what that message was, my perception began to shift from a reality filled with heavy darkness to a reality that was a bit brighter and bit lighter in its clarity.”

See more from Heidi at her website or blog.

denial’s downward spiral


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: “Denial creates an emotional paralysis. It keeps us from facing our fears, coping with our pain and resolving our issues.

It is a common defense mechanism that doesn’t work. It leads us into a downward spiral, creating a deeper void and greater hurt than what we would experience were we to face the truth, confronting our pain, issues and resolving the root causes of them.

“I took this self portrait from an odd angle to distort my facial features a little bit. My fringe of bangs obscuring my vision. And I moved just as the camera went off. I wanted the edges to be a bit hazy. Because denial does exactly that, it distorts the way we see ourselves and the way we experience the world around us.”

Find more from Jaeda at Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.