bipolar self portrait linkdump

Vincent van Gogh, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889

Medi-curation time, my little cuckoos. For your delight and edification, I have once again trawled the Internet to find contemporary self portraits by people with manic depression. It’s all mixed up (no mixed episode jokes please) and so the known rub shoulders with the unknown and the only common denominator is my subjectively critical eyeballs. I haven’t included any of the great painters with their posthumous diagnoses, except the one on your left. I’m sure you’ll agree that it absolutely could not be left out. There’s a small selection of kids’ art, some videos and, as per usual, so many links that if you joined them up, they’d reach the moon.

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Featured artists:

Luis Pedro de Casto
Psychedelic Weapons
Gabriel Marquez
Bryan Lewis Saunders
April Mansilla
Josephine King
Si Clark
John Poole
Emma Price
Kim Novak
James Pasternak
Jen Douglas
Adi Aguilar
Jaqueline Mak
Katie Chandler
Alex M Smith
Little Miss Bipolar
Ellen Forney
Daniel Johnston
Liz Obert
Alex W

Along the way, I stumbled across some self portraits by children with bipolar disorder and was impressed, depressed and touched by their expression and emotion. Images from Storm in my brain: art by kids with mood disorders.

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Mentally Ill Will – the Ballad of Sweet Willem (watch it, or I’ll cut you… out of my will).

Near Death Experience – Bryan Lewis Saunders (he’s the dude who did 50 self portraits, each under the influence of different drugs/meds/substances, remember?)
Jen Douglas – One of Four
Voices Documentary: The Art of Children, Adolescents and Young Adults Touched by Mental Illness.
Art Therapy for Depression and Bipolar
Daniel Johnston – Story of an Artist

Read all about it:

click to enlarge

Jonah Lehrer meets Stephen Fry: the paradoxes of bipolar and creativity. (this one’s for you, frywhores!) There’s a follow up post – Madness ain’t all it cracked up to be.
Using artwork to understand the experience of mental illness: Mainstream artists and Outsider artists (Terry A. Rustin) (brilliant article, I can’t recommend it highly enough)
Van Gogh and Mental Illness (brainpickings)
Psych Meds Prevent Artistic and Creative Thought (Natasha Tracy) (it’s not as simple as the title implies)
The Selfie: A Social Trend or Mental Illness?
Suffering for art is still suffering (Neurocritic)
Art Therapy in a Patient With Bipolar Disorder: Pictures Speak More Than a Thousand Words. (image on the left)
Missy Douglas – 2:365, 365 days of unmedicated bipolar art. (personally, it does absolutely nothing for me)

I’d really, really, really love to see your self portraits. If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a gallery of us here? When I’ve done one. I’m gonna do one.

edit: please drop a comment here if you have or do a self portrait and wouldn’t mind me including it in a gallery of all our pics


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

47 thoughts on “bipolar self portrait linkdump”

        1. Mine is done, I photographed it earlier – and I’ve got one more from a reader. Waiting for more before I post and I’m thinking of putting a password on that post and just giving it to the people who sent their self portraits.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Argh I can’t even read properly, please forgive me. I understand, you haven’t posted it yet. I will take this as a wonderful excuse to draw and take time. I love the idea of an intimate post just for that.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. I love Natasha Tracys conclusion; made me titter… how do you find the time and the energy to look all this stuff up and link it all so neatly for us to read??? I have to say, when I visit my reader, yours are the first posts I check out and read (or sometimes “try” to read). And I am a Frywhore: yep no doubt about that. What a wonderful word. So to end with the words of the master ““It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.” I second that emotion!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ja that last line is perfect. As for the time, I’m all bipolar and unemployed and stuff ;) I was hunting for webcomics and cartoons and I tripped over a couple of self portraits I really liked, so I got fascinated and took myself on a little trip. I like having a place to store the good stuff and I like inflicting my opinions on my readers :D I don’t second the frymotion, but I’m glad you do, because it’s a positive. I wonder if he has any of the shitty word and memory stuff that we do. That’d be tragic. And hey, thanks lots for the commentpliment, my perennially deflated self esteem thanks you too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think Fry meant those demons of self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing as actually being a *good* thing. He was being a bit contrary here I think… The fact he was crippled by these demons was what led him to literature, language, and all the other stuff that actually became his “salvation” in the end. Its a fine example of the British glibness not actually being that at all, rather the opposite: profoundness, but through a very self effacing humour. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it. OOh, and Fry apparently has a photographic memory, so it would be interesting to see if that slips at times of depression!! Might just try and ask!!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I get it (and not just because I’m British lol), I’d just choose differently myself, if I could. You know? Id rather be a boring moron then this. I’d be oblivious anyway, I wouldn’t even know there was a choice.


    1. Me neither, there’s always photography, photoshop, mixed media, lego ….. So I interrupted this comment to Google, and lego self portraits are definitely a thing.


  2. I love this! Bipolar Made Me Josephine King, Ellen Forney, and Mentally Ill Will The Ballad of Sweet Willem all spoke to me in some way. That’s what it’s about for me. My father has a talent for painting and sketching. I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. My sister writes poetry and short stories. I can’t write poetry or any kind of story. What I can do is tell a mediocre piece of art from a masterpiece. I can tell a good novel from a bad one. I know what movies are Oscar Worthy. I do have an eye for jewelry and enjoy making it. I love photography whether or not I’m good at it. I’m medicated but not sure if the meds were working because of my kidneys. I know this, without medication I wouldn’t be better at anything except drinking. Now I have at least tried other things as outlets and found some I love. Saying you’re more “creative” without meds is like an alcoholic saying they’re more “creative” when they drink. It’s an excuse to keep the manic euphoria for the Bipolar and an excuse to keep drinking for the alcoholic. I’ve been or seen both sides. If you’re creative than you’re creative. It’s something I think you’re born with. We all have something even if we don’t know it yet. You just have to find it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I take some things too seriously. One of those things is movies. Probably why I phrased it that way. lol I take it to the extreme. There are movies I won’t watch no matter how good they are supposed to be just because of the actor or director. My sister thinks it’s hilarious and strange. The jewelry I make ranges. Necklaces from silver to rose gold, I always use Swarovski Crystals and with the Necklaces there is usually a statement piece in the middle. I just gave my niece 2 Elephant necklaces and a pair of Elephant earrings. She’s having a hard time. 18 and already been in and out of rehab and psychiatric facilities. My earrings I use a lot of man made sea glass and Swarovski Crystals. Also metal ranges from Silver, Copper, Bronze and Rose Gold. I think I put pics on my blog. I learned from my mom starting at the age of 10. Worked in a factory starting at 12 until 27. Now it’s to occupy my mind it works. Plus I like to give it away and sometimes sell it. I’ve sold some and donated proceeds to different charities. Sorry for going I’m a little off today. But in a good way.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well you’re bipolar, you’re sposed to be intense and too this and too that – it’s your job :D so sorry to hear about your sister, I hope things start to go better for her soon.


  3. I already know what you look like, you beautiful soul you. Should you receive self portraits I am sending mine. Call it a creative edit of an image you will recognize. I only ask that it be posted in a relatively small size. The art that I pour my bipolar energy into is expressed in words and the occasional photo without me in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know this may be an inappropriate place to ask for help… im not even sure why im asking.. you seem like youve been through enough..

    I need help. I need someone to tell me that theyve seen the other side of depression and recovery. is there hope? im so sad. i dont feel well. i dont feel like being here.

    i dont know what else to do.


    1. I’m gonna quote Gandalf, because as you know, he’s where I go when I’m too down to breathe, “there is always hope”. Simple, but Gandalf said it and so it must be true. Hugs my friend, I’m so so sorry things are shitty for you. Fucking bastard bipolar.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I’ll check on you when I get back (6hrs or so). We’re a tough tribe, us manic depressives. Watch rotate your owl on YouTube quick. And hugs.


  5. NICE compilation. Just had the thought that I ought to scan a couple of my own and then remembered that I’d destroyed them. Partly bec. I am not an artist and partly bec. of the shame that they convey. What a shame THAT is! Thanks Blah!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’d really like to do photography, symbolic representations…cuz I can’t sketch for shit…so we’ll see what I come up with…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. How did I miss this? If effort rehabs ongoing, I’d be happy to do a self portrait. Seems like something that might be a good thing to do anyway. Plus my watercolors have been sadly neglected for some while.

    Liked by 1 person

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