Art and Depression – When I Can’t Talk About It

There have been many books, articles and even papers in refereed journals written to explore the linkages between creativity and mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar and schizophrenia. I have read convincing arguments for both weak and strong links between creativity and mental illness.

I personally believe there is a relationship between creativity and innate sensitivity: a sensitivity that might predispose people to mental illness. While this argument may likely rage on for hundreds of years, I know there are times when I lose the ability to write and create art. For me, periods of prolonged depression typically manifest as reduced creative output.

When words fail me, I am sometimes able to express something of my illness through the visual arts. Pushing against what I once called the ‘leaden blanket’ on my mind – an expression that for me captured the weight of depression – I was sometimes able to capture a visual image of my experiences. Many of these images were often not well received when I shared them with other people. I could often sense a feeling of discomfiture, and in review, I agree that these images could be considered provocative and confronting.

Nevertheless, I believe that the work I was able to create at these times comes close to capturing a snapshot of depression. These images communicate something of an experience I was unable to express in words.


Did this post resonate with you or help you in some way? Let me know in the comments below! If you’d like to support my work, you can buy me some writing time! This helps to support my work and keep it accessible and ad-free!

Jane Waterman

Hi, I’m Jane! I create blogs, fiction, art, and adaptive yoga as I seek peace and healing in this strange and sometimes beautiful world. I’ve been chronically ill and probably crazy for 30 years, but I try not to let it stop me!

Please visit the about page to learn more about me and my hopes for this community! If you’d like to support my work, please visit my tip jar at or my ongoing creative projects at



2 Responses

  1. My personal experience has been that art is a creative process that has helped me to express things I have such difficulty finding words for. Your art work is deeply touching and I think that sometimes people struggle with the truth of what depression and illness is.

    Sharing something that is so intimately connected to our experiences is not easy and yet change will never happen and people will never begin to truly understand unless they are able to see it.

    This month of blogs and the messages and images you are sharing is an important step towards bringing awareness and understanding.

    Love and blessings


    1. Thanks for your comment, Sweetie. It is indeed difficult to put such intimate work out on display, especially with the risk of exposure and subsequent risk of judgement or criticism. I would still very much like to mount the type of exhibition we once talked of: to showcase art that speaks to mental illness, but there is an element of fear there. I do believe it is something we will do, and relatively soon, because the amount of misinformation out there, including from professionals, is too high.

      Thanks for your support – I could not do this without you.

      Lots of love


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