80/20 is our newest arts project, creating a multimedia anthology of creative work by young people affected by bipolar. In this first blog post of the series, we're introducing some of the artwork submitted through Bipolar UK's Youth Service.

We love this dotwork pen and ink Lioness by Cerys Knighton. We can see the control and delicacy that must have been taken to create such a regal image. The lioness appears to be rising up, perhaps to defend herself or to just express herself in a way that's most natural to her.

Dotwork Pen and Ink Lioness by Cerys Knighton - A Bipolar UK 80/20 submission

Young people, creativity and bipolar

Creativity is often an outlet and a coping mechanism for those people with bipolar. Cerys echoes this when talking about her piece:

"Depression is relentless in stripping your self-worth. I had my first severe hallucinations and delusions in bipolar depression at eleven, and since then recurring episodes have lasted from six months to over a year. Feeling such emptiness, hopelessness and shame has made me isolate myself, and when overcome with delirium, I can't claw my way out of the rabbit hole.

"Periods of disassociation have nearly defeated me and although delirium is sometimes a wonderland of colours and curiosity, violence has dominated my experience of hallucination. When your consciousness and senses are tricking you, it can be impossible to call out the pack of cards for what they are.

"Drawing has been invaluable in finding self-worth and a sense of safety. Art began as a means of reconciling the space between reality and terror, and I would draw the aftermath of violation, recreating it with a sense of wonder. Increasingly drawing became a sense of relief in the depths of depression and a way to manage the chaos of hypomania, so I started to draw beautiful things too - mainly animals like this lioness."

"Now at 23, I cannot express how fortunate I am to be illustrating books and making art prints and to have the chance to research depictions of bipolar in my postgraduate degree.

Discovering the association between creativity and bipolar has helped me override the shame associated with being chronically mentally ill and drawing has become one of the most important factors in the long-term management of my illness."

We hope that this piece inspires you to use creativity, whatever your artistic expression may be, to process the highs and lows you experience as part of bipolar.