Bipolar Disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings between euphoria and depression. The extremes of mood often inhibit the individual functioning on a daily basis. When euphoric, they find it hard to relate to the trivial nature of everyday functioning and when depressed, they might even find it hard to get out of bed. However, many highly gifted musicians, authors and artists are diagnosed as bipolar and it seems that both these extreme experiences allow them to access creative depths they find hard to reach otherwise. Whilst suffering, particularly when in the depressive state or when cycling, can be enormous, it is important to ask ?What comes first? The chicken or the egg?’
Do everyday pressures to be ?normal’ negate certain individuals accessing ways to be highly creative or is there a complex interrelationship between euphoria and depression, resulting from wanting to transcend the blandness of everyday life? My work as a psychologist with individuals diagnosed as bipolar indicates the importance of putting aside fixed labels and descriptions, instead inviting the individual to find out what ?their’ bipolar condition is saying. Then moves can be made to alleviate suffering and adopt ways to be creative yet minimise the negative effects of bipolar.