Today is World Bipolar Day and science has proven that artists are more likely to face depression, especially serious bipolar illness.

So is mental instability an inevitable price of creativity?

"Since Plato, it has been argued that ‘madness’ is twinned with creative genius, that the agonies we now understand as depression and the turbulence we now recognize as mania are part of a Faustian (Faust-A German astronomer) bargain with inspiration.

Apparently, the "mad genius" is not a myth. Studies of artists and writers collated in Scientific American confirm that artists and writers are up to 20 times more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder and 10 times more likely to suffer from depression. So what's the link?

Countless psychologists and psychiatrists tend to agree that major depression is amplified in those who tend to ruminate on their thoughts. While depression serves as a reflection of thought and those who ruminate tend to suffer the most, it also has a secondary upside that helps explain why creatives experience more depression than any other individual type.

Once whatever initially caused the depressed feelings to rise up, have been sorted through in the mind, the shift into more positive thoughts helps to drive even more motivation to do more creative work, or more of anything. The upswing of coming out of a creative slump is enough motivation to produce immense amounts of work. And it’s a very real boost, identical to one you would get if you received a random gift or really great news.

Of course, the motivational boost is often an inverse of the level of depression. So if you’re in a truly deep funk and start coming out of it, you can expect your motivation to be equally as high, as the low. For creatives this can be excellent news.

After much rumination, creative types tend to fall into the deeper states of depression, but that also means they’re more likely to experience the higher rises. Because of this effect, their work is more prominent and their behaviour more recognized.

You can see how this shift (from overwhelmingly depressed and being unable to do much of anything, to a dynamic state of productivity and livelihood) can mislead people into believing that depression fuels creativity, but that’s not really the case. Creativity is what can drive depression, a signal that there’s a lot of thinking going on. Which, in return, is great for creativity once the initial slump has been combated and the motivation returns."

What an emotional rollercoaster! And it is!

As a sufferer of depression, riding the waves of hopelessness, despair, lethargy and loneliness, is bloody hard work.  And there are some days when I want to end it all.  It becomes too much and I ask myself constantly, is being alive and suffering the mental anguish, worth the pain?

I've asked around and depressed people don't feel like they fit anywhere and some lose hope totally. I absolutely shudder when I hear of someone who has taken their life but part of me, gets it.  The quest for absolute freedom of pain becomes great.

The painter Vincent van Gogh famously cut off his own ear in a period of anguished depression. The writer Virginia Wolf walked into a river with her pockets full of stones declaring she could not live with going mad again. The composer Robert Schumann died in an insane asylum following multiple suicide attempts.

Here are a handful of artists who have inspired me over the years to follow my passion in art. In one way or another their works have touched my heart and mind. Regrettably, these artists are no longer with us and upon research I have found that they also suffered from depression. Some committed suicide or died of accidental heroin overdoses; others of illnesses and natural causes. Perhaps I unconsciously recognised my own melancholia through their work and so felt a natural affinity with their art. 


The magnificent works these and many other troubled artists bequeathed to us have been obtained at a terrible price; a price we may never fully comprehend. 

Let us appreciate their legacy and honour them for who they were, what they felt and thought and what they created, as a result.

RIP beautiful creatives - thank you for inspiring me and for being you.

If you know of anyone who suffers from depression, tell them how much you love them, just the way they are.  Tell them that they are fabulous and good enough.

Here is a list of remarkable people who acknowledge that they also suffer from depression.