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Creativity and Mental Illness

So there’s a much talked-about link between mental illness and creativity. Schizophrenics see the world in ways others cannot, and they apply their views of the world to paint and paper, the resulting piece of art is typically haunting and surreal, and often very good. Bipolars are often said to be excellent writers, especially in their manic stages. But does the whole mental illness-creativity thing apply to psychotic depression?

I don’t know if it does or does not. I only know what I know about myself, and that is that I am an excellent writer (usually) and pretty good at drawing (usually). I say usually because, when in the deepest depths of abject despair and depression, my ability to write or draw goes away entirely. That’s not to say I can’t write when I’m depressed at all, though the work I do in a depressed state tends to be noticeably darker. I just can’t write when the depression gets to a certain point of severity.

I love to write. I was writing stories from a very early age. In fact, I learned to write and read so early and well that my teachers had difficulty keeping up with me, and in order to keep my mind challenged, they had me tutoring first-graders when I was in kindergarten. I still enjoy reading greatly, as well as writing.

I was also drawing from an early age. I don’t consider my drawing to be as good as my writing, but I still enjoy doing it whenever I have free time. I like to challenge myself by trying to draw from memory or by timing myself. Here’s a drawing of a jackdaw that I did in five minutes.

I wonder if there really is a link between creativity and mental illness at all, however. I mean, some people in any given population are going to be good at art. Maybe the good art from mental wards gets more attention? I don’t know.

It’s interesting to think about, though.

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About The Mental Chronicles

I am an otherwise "normal" person who suffers from psychotic depression. This blog is about me, things I like, and my struggle with mental illness.

4 responses to “Creativity and Mental Illness

  1. It’s a beautiful bird, I’m sure that 5 mins took you to another place. Keep it up.

  2. Sandy Sue

    Vivien at Manic Muses has been discussing this very thing. Here’s a link to her latest post. It contains the first hour of a two hour documentary by British actor/comedian Steven Fry about his experience of BP, which is wonderful.
    http://manicmuses.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/the-paradoxes-of-bipolar-and-creativity/

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