I am a trained artist (BFA), a writer, a musician...everything I do tends to be infused with creativity. I don't relate this to the bipolar, however. I don't find inspiration in hypomania per se. I am very disciplined and I work no matter how I am feeling, though it is difficult to function at all during a lupus flare.
I learned to create whether I was "inspired" to do so or not, hence the discipline. I work no matter how I feel at my job too. It is a function of going to art school and having that demand placed on me when I was young enough that it stuck. With the art, in particular, as I have studied it so extensively, it is a technical feat rather than one of inspiration, if that makes any sense. It is a skill, not a talent. Yes, I have a great deal of natural creative ability, but it would be nothing without proper training and hard work. I am 46 and I have been involved in creative pursuits my entire life and I don't think much of it. It is just something I do because my soul demands it. My soul doesn't listen to my health or my emotions, so I am free of them creatively.
My mother was always one to equate my natural creative flow with mental illness. Creativity is NOT an excuse for bad behavior, if indeed my behavior was so very bad. ( I refute that it was. My mom and I are very different people and she has no understanding of me. I think she is jealous of the creativity.)
I'll say this and try not to sound too self-inflated. I am not only creatively gifted, but also intellectually gifted (by IQ score). The two don't balance well together I have found. I am intellectual to the point of being reality grounded and most creative people see me as too grounded to have any "talent" (not something I believe in anyway). Most intellectual people find me too etherial to be as smart as they are. I am a poor fit for the world and because I was overly gifted (thank you, God, I think) I don't think much of anything I do in any regard...I just do it.
It is thought that a number of gifted people in history have had bipolar disorder, but as the diagnosis didn't exist in that time, it would be hard to say. As I eluded to above, being creative is not an excuse for bad behavior. I think it has long been assumed that the truly gifted are mentally ill and that the mentally ill are probably gifted. This is not true on either score. Though, even in the 21st Century, many people think they are connected.
The Lady Dragonfly
Yes, it was me...I know because I was there when I did it. Lupus sufferer, bipolar II sufferer. Currently on Indocin for chronic pericarditis related to lupus, and cherishing every deep breath without pain. Currently in graduate school for mental health counseling, class of Fall 2007. Vegan and loving it!