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Seeing Life Differently: Using Art to Heal with Bipolar Disorder

My mother was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was a teenager, and for most of my life, I didn’t understand many of the things she said or did. After she passed in 2012, I began my healing journey from trauma, anorexia, and related disorders, and after a couple years, began educating myself about Bipolar, a condition that once terrified me. 

My mother was a tremendous artist, gifted; and although she touched many with her creative talents, she could never come to see that in herself. I truly believe that her inability to receive help for her mental illnesses stood in the way of her using her artistic talents to the fullest. She had a tendency to believe the worst about herself, when in reality, she was a genius and could draw and paint with the best.

A painting of Shem Creek (Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina) by my mother, Sandy Cargile

I look back today and sometimes believe that my mom could have bonded with others in recovery who use art as a way to heal from their Bipolar disorder. According to Long (2017) some living with BPD see “creative pieces [as] more than just artwork…Jenna Line…uses art as a way to combat bipolar disorder.

‘When I feel manic, I feel more creative,’ Line said. ‘I have a lot of racing thoughts and ideas, which is when I get most of my inspiration. There’s a lot of research suggesting a relationship of bipolar disorder with creativity. But it’s just an association, not causation.’

As a child, she recalled feeling anxious and found it difficult sitting still. During this period, she started doodling and discovered that it helped bring her to a calmer state and eased her bipolar symptoms when she first started experiencing them at 16 years old.

‘Art has been a constant in my life and a way to channel some energy, so for me it was doodling and that helped,’ Line said.”

And although art helps Ms. Line and it could have further helped my mom, there is no one right way to help those with Bipolar disorder; everyone is different. If you or someone you know may be or is living with Bipolar disorder, you are not alone and there is no reason to feel ashamed. Please visit The International Bipolar Foundation for more information.


Long, A. (July 23, 2017). ‘The Art of Resilience’: An artist with bipolar disorder said her art has helped her through her highs and lows. Retrieved from 


Seeing Life Differently: Using Art to Heal with Bipolar Disorder

Nikki DuBose

Author of Washed Away: From Darkness to Light. Advocate & Ambassador.

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APA Reference
DuBose, N. (2018). Seeing Life Differently: Using Art to Heal with Bipolar Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Jan 2018
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