I read an article recently that got me thinking about creativity and its role in mental illness (or vice versa): Creativity and mental illness share genetic markers on Genetic Literacy Project.
“Scientists in Iceland report that genetic factors that raise the risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are found more often in people in creative professions.”
Hmm, this statement wasn’t anything I did NOT know; however…
“Kari Stefansson, founder and CEO of deCODE, a genetics company based in Reykjavik, said the findings, described in the journal Nature Neuroscience, point to a common biology for some mental disorders and creativity. ‘To be creative, you have to think differently,’ he told the Guardian. ‘And when we are different, we have a tendency to be labelled strange, crazy and even insane.’”
Wait, there’s more…
“Stefansson believes that scores of genes increase the risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These may alter the ways in which many people think, but in most people do nothing very harmful. But for 1% of the population, genetic factors, life experiences and other influences can culminate in problems, and a diagnosis of mental illness.”
Not only do we, as creatives, think differently I believe we also feel differently. And we just don’t look (or feel) at the surface, we dig deep.
We dare to.
It’s okay if we’re viewed as being different.
We’re used to being alone, standing in a room full of strangers (even family members tend to be viewed as strangers at times).
But do all of these make us mentally ill?
We tend to delve so deeply into our minds that we start to see things (and people) that may or may not be there.
We talk to our characters that no one else can hear.
Our minds…our imagination are our greatest weapons.
And our downfall.
All because “normal” people do not understand us.
But does that make us mentally ill?