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.