This is an excerpt from a book I am writing called Day. It delves inside the mind of a manic depressive and what their typical day entails.

Would love some feedback on this if you wouldn’t mind - albeit constructive if possible! Kindly note, this is very much first draft and lots of revisions lay ahead!

Kind regards,

Natalie (a proud new licence owner of Scrivener)

Just a few thoughts. The prose is clear and direct, never easy to achieve. For the sake of experiment, here are three suggestions. Try using 3rd person instead of 1st. Try showing the condition of mind, rather than telling it. Readers will thus see the character from two frames, inside and out. Finally, radically condense the details down to just a few, to make every word contribute to the effect of depression and shame.

“On a cold Monday morning Sue rose from bed and shifted her bulk into pajamas and bra, avoiding the mirror. She winced at the ache in her knees and arms. In the bathroom she traced the scars on her wrists, then saw her face. She scowled and scrubbed her hands, blistering them pink. From outside came the sounds of another morning: footsteps, car doors, dogs barking. They wanted to walk. Today I will be good, she thought.”

I agree with Druid. Perfectly clear, concise writing. But more show and less tell would work better. I think you’ve got a crisp style, and you don’t make the mistake of over-egging with metaphor or purple prose, so I applaud you for that.

A few other thoughts:

I doubt even the most extreme manic depressive would have all of these thoughts in one go. As a counsellor myself I’ve worked with many people who’ve had bad depression (no manic depressives, though), and often it’s just one thing that preoccupies at a given time, even although there may be a host of other things going on below the surface. Working with one aspect of the depression as part of the woman’s life would be more effective, I feel. It could be prompted by an action - for example, a rush of anxiety over losing something, like a pair of glasses, the book she’d been reading the night before, anything. Or a phone ringing when she can’t bring herself to speak to anyone.

You’ve captured that locked-in feeling well, the ambivalence of being indoors (safe and feeling trapped).

I’d also suggest you think about reducing the thought processes. For example, the line about cursing and praising God don’t feel right. And when you say “freedom beckons”, when you think about it freedom isn’t beckoning at all - she wants to stay indoors. Freedom beckoning would be about her inner desire for freedom and a will to grasp it.

There are a few very minor things there, too, just more commas than you need in some sentences. Generally I feel there’s to much use of words like anger, hope, despair and so on. In a short scene like this one, what she’s doing physically, what she’s seeing and noticing, with fewer references to her inner thoughts, would be more effective. I’ve always struggled with the show versus tell thing in my writing, but I find that a bit of a mix of the two, with more emphasis on the show, works best.

Good luck with this. And, please, bear in mind, this is your stuff. What other people say may be right or wrong. If you get too concerned about what others are saying it could stop your process. My advice: keep writing until you’ve finished the book, lay it aside for a few months while you start on your next project, then go back to it and start editing - and then invite more comments, if you like.

Natalie hiya, :slight_smile:

Welcome to ScrivIm assuming the reference to manic depression, refers to that which falls under the umbrella tittle of Bipolar Disorder. If that is the case, then since a friend of mine is Bipolar, your piece has a certain resonance for me and again, since someone close to me, struggles with her weight ( albeit nothing like that, more than alluded to, in the piece) and has done for a while, that resonance is even stronger , so Ill give you my two cents worth; but, from a reader`s point of view.

I suffer from ME(only mildly), but one of the most irritating symptoms is the inability to concentrate on blocks of text, for long. A couple of paragraphs and Im off, on to, another block of text, elsewhere. Its a pain in the butt, but that`s the way it is. However, the seven paragraphs in your piece, held my attention, up to the last full stop/period.

Subsequent reading of druid and Johns advice, revealed, expertly encapsulated within their respective critiques, everything I was struggling to put into words.

Personally,and I stress, personally, I find first person, present tense narrative, profoundly irritating (by a factor of ten), or a pain in the arse, if you like. Its like reading a list: I this; I that; I the other; I will; I wont: I do: I dont etc. etc. Also, I , find first person present tense eerily disconcerting. I dont know if thats a common phenomenon, or its just me thats weird. Well accept that Im weird, just check out if its a common sensation. When I tried to read Virginia Wolfs, The Waves, I ended up with a headache.Truely, my head was thumping!

I felt the facts and emotions, itemised in seven paragraph, could be put to more effective and creative use, spread over seven chapters. And, if I was her carer( a situation I have been in many times over my 63yrs), I would try to afford her as much privacy as she desired, once I had ensured she was as comfortable as possible on the toilet, for example, I would leave her alone. I felt, that perhaps your readers may feel the same and not want to think her biographer was denying her the dignity afforded her by privacy. Even though the book is about stripping away that privacy laying bare her existence for 24hrs, even if she isnt bothered by it, your reader may regard it as an unnecessary, intrusion, gratuitous even. Avoid appearing voyeuristic. Which, isnt, saying don t tell it like it is. Thats what this kind of book should be about. Just leave us, the readers, one or two i,s to dot and one or two t,s to cross.

Apart from the implicit self mutilation, which, could, I think, be a consequence of Bipolar Disorder, Im not sure.The thrust of the piece seems to be concerned with the effects of being grossly overweight, and not bipolar. As a layman, I would have pondered, whether or not the self harming, could be a consequence of a Body Dismorphobic-like condition in tandem with Bipolar Disorder.

I think, john may have just misread where freedom beckons the dogs, but not her.
Apart from that Natalie, I would take seriously everything druid and john have said.
I would definitely consider a non first party narration, and consider employing some device such as a diary or a journal, to invoke first person narration, as and when you think it appropriate.

Take care

Well spotted, Vic. I did misread that bit. It was the dogs Natalie was referring to. Natalie - please ignore that comment.

Thank you ever so much for the helpful and lovely comments, I will absolutely take them on board.

Apologies for the delay, this project is very intense, and I need to take breaks :blush:

One thing I didn’t note in my first post, is that the person is me. I’m the manic depressive and those feelings are within me (unfortunately John, my mind does think these thoughts and more, daily). I didn’t want to put that initially, as I was worried people might not be honest. I didn’t want to gain sympathy. So, I thank you again, for your honesty and apologies I wasn’t honest, but I hope you can forgive the reason as to why.

Some very valid points have been raised, I certainly do need to lessen the detail and I will try to write in third person. This is very much a work in progress and will be a project of mine for a long while, as it is also a form of therapy for me.

I am aiming for this book to be published in a medical sense, perhaps to help those who suffer depression of any kind, help their families to understand them. I have a way of expressing myself and unfortunately a lot of people in my position do not.

The book will be hard, gritty, crude and explicit, but that is my life unfortunately (or should I say the darkness within), so it certainly won’t be light reading :laughing:

@Vic, I was very touched by your pm and message and thanks again for the comments all :slight_smile:


Youre more than, More than welcome, but keep in touch: pms/forums/emails. I think youll find a lot of very clever, sensitive, and innately human scallywags aboard Scrivener, wholl tell you what they think you,need, to hear and not what they think you,want, to hear. Mind you, Natalie, theres some reeeaally reeeaally weird ones too (I cant for the life of me think why Ive written that … :open_mouth:). Too late now, it`s there :wink:

Take care Natalie
Vic xx



Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I certainly don’t doubt you might have all of these thoughts together. I think we can all have many processes going on at the same time. I was simply responding to your writing, and giving feedback on your question. Whether it’s fiction or biography, I still think the reader can be engaged more effectively through focussing on one or two things at a time. You could of course say that you have a host of thoughts and feelings going on at the same time, but you can engage your readers more forcefully, I feel, through narrower focus, as several people here commented.

I hope, though, life is better for you at the moment. I’m a great believer in the therapeutic value of writing, too. I wish you all the best with your book.

Small suggestion for your topic.

Most people who are manic depressive also suffer severe stomach and intestinal problems. (Conditions like ulcers, IBS, etc.). Much of this is due to worry and anxiety. Many times they feel lethargic and fatigued. Like being hung over without the head ache but everything else. Also they have to work real hard to get up enough motivation to even climb out of bed. Sometimes they have to convince themselves to get out of bed.

No disrespect intended, I assure you, and wearing my guarantee of fallibility, the Everymans Right to a Working Misconception of Anything and Everything Hat`, once again. I was wondering if you come from a medical background, or if you have some kind of firsthand knowledge, concerning manic depressive illness/bipolar disorder or perhaps clinical depression, with and all its many manifestations.

The reason I ask, is that: If this thread is to develop along the lines of genuine concerned and rational debate, that it so rightly deserves, it necessitates some kind of provenancial tag attaching to information injected into the debate. As well as some qualificational identification of the person providing that info.

I am of the belief, for example, that,manic depressive, is a description of a condition, generally denoting periods of manic behaviour, periods of depression induced behaviour sandwiching periods of relative normality, albeit under the influence of chemical control. That is my very simplistic account of a very non-simplistic Psycho-neurological / chemical imbalance induced condition. I think that`s how you could describe it.

This of course could be all twaddle, but because Ive identified myself as a layman, I can be taken to task and corrected by those who know, or indeed, just suspect that Im wrong.

In the manic phase for example, would the sufferer feel lethargic enough not to want to get out of bed. Seems improbable to me, but I don`t know.

I hope you see where I`m coming from Wock.

I would love to see this thread develop, especially along the lines of The efficacy of Writing about the Condition, as a Therapy

Take care Folks

Well it is from first hand experience.

To give an example.

I am considered bipolar type II. Which is the most common but rarely diagnosed because no one seems to notice and very few are diagnosed with type II. Type II are generally called “eccentric” people.

Type II is Mania with small episodes of depression on the average. So in other words I am happier than normal 90% of the time. Mania is like being on the best drugs in the whole world without ever coming down. Grandiose ideas, feeling unstoppable, or bullet proof. Since no one really goes to the doctor because they are just to damn happy all the time very few people are diagnosed with type II. :slight_smile:

Type one is like this. Say “Normal” is 50%. Say the happiest you could ever be in your life is 100% (Mania) . Now picture losing every loved one you have ever had in your life in a plane crash. That is 0% (depression.)

A manic depressive (type I) individual would be around 0-10% most days out of the year with small episodes (from maybe a day to two weeks) where they would swing to about 70% (sometimes 90 or more but rare) and fluctuate a little before settling back down to around 10%.

A Mania (type II) sits around 90% most days and then swing down to about 30% a few times.

This is cycling. Now if they are a fast cycler they could go from 20-90 and back again in a very short time. THese are the individuals that it is most noticable that they are mentally ill because their moods switch so fast. (Fast Cycling)

“Manic Depression” is actually Bipolar Type I where one is depressed most of the time with some Manic episodes (Happier than normal).

Now take my wife. She is “Manic Depressive” (Type I) where I am Manic (type II).

Or a layman term pessimist (type I) optimist (type II)

Now about the medical conditions they are true. Believe me. I have taken my wife to the doctors plenty of times for anxiety, IBS, stomach nausea, ulcers, etc. And plenty of Doctors have explained that this is common in people who suffer depression. They literally make themselves sick with worry. Also studies have shown relations between Type I, Type II and compulsive disorders.

The big differences are this and I will put this in a very general layman analogy if I can.

A mania or hypomania episode is like being on cocaine, PCP, and Ecstasy without any narcotic effects. You feel alive, on top of the world. Like you just conquered the world. Sounds great but it is damaging because you do NOT rationalize the cause and effects as normal. You are overly optimistic. You talk fast, sleep little, have very little appetite, start many projects but never follow through. In fact many people misdiagnose Bipolar Type II as ADD or ADHD. When you cycle down you tend to get angry, irritable, and irrational with some depression. Like going through withdraw.

When you fall into depression it is the polar opposite (hence bipolar). You are very depressed, you eat more, you feel tired and lethargic all the time, you worry, you stress, you sleep too much, your stomach acids flow due to the worry causing the digestive side effects I discussed. Also many who are very depressed are worse on dreary days. If it is cold and rainy and my wife is on the downside she won’t even go outside because it is MORE depressing. Depressed people have to motivate themselves just to climb out of bed. It is very difficult dealing with depression and this can lead to poor diet, weight loss or weight gain, hi-blood pressure, digestive problems, etc. Imagine being under extreme stress for a long time without any reprieve. Your body suffers. Also you need to take into account the side effects of the medicine if the person is medicated.

Think of a time when you heart was really broken and it brought you so far down you didn’t care about yourself. Now multiply that by 100 and throw in a few deaths in the family. That is a manic depressed person unmedicated on a GOOD day.

On my scale of 0-100. Normal people when they lose a loved one and are really depressed the hit rock bottom at about 30%. Normal people when they have the happiest day of their life they hit about 70%.

So taken into account an unmedicated person suffering depression or mania is either higher than normal or lower than normal. If they fluctuate then they are bipolar either type I (Manic Depressive) or Type II (Mani or Hypomania).

You haven’t offended me :slight_smile: I will tell you that a “manic depressive” is generally viewed as one that is common Bipolar Type I that is is more often depressed than mania where as type II (the more common) is generally more mania than depressed.

As an example in your story snippet.

(1) She sort of sounds Type I and a slow cycler. Ok that could explain why she is overweight or the medicine she is taking to normalize herself has caused the weight gain. Would explain the shame and the feeling of hopelessness about her weight and the anger.

(2) A cold monday morning would be more difficult for a manic depressive than a sunny day. So they wouldn’t rise out of bed. They would more likely force themselves to crawl out of bed after a quick mental discussion on why they have to leave the bed to meet the dreary day. :slight_smile:

(3) When she feels the envy in her stomach when she is looking at the skylight she would probably feels some nasuea and a tightness (Physical effects from a mental emotional feeling) that is exaggerated by her illness.

(4) I could be way off base on everything and wasting your time. I can only speak from experience. Me personally I felt the character had more a normal depression due to low self esteem more so than a “manic depressed” person would act. SHe seemed to suffer more from low self worth than depression. I say this because her depression seems normal where a manic depressed person their depression is a whole lot lower. We are talking The Gallows here emotionally. I just get a different vibe from your character the way things are described. I get more of a low self esteem issue and a low self worth feeling more so than deep depression.

Who knows? I might not be the one to ask. After all I am crazy :stuck_out_tongue:

Thanks for all the trouble you`ve gone to, with your response; truly :slight_smile:

I feel Im much better informed now, about the awful, devastating and what must be almost soul destroying impact this condition has, upon those who are unfortunate enough to suffer from it; from someone, I feel, appears to know what hes talking about.

I`m hoping the inference you took from my post was that: In order for anyone contributing to the discussion(of this very seriously debilitating illness), and their input, to be given due regard, a modicum of info clarifying their status, would be helpful.

I expect we all have our own methods of assessing the veracity of statements made over the internet. Wock has come over, to me at least, as a bit mischievous, but decidedly not cynical. Only a truly cynical person would have written as you have and claimed it as firsthand.

Any further input from Wock, in this thread, I`ll regard as being authoritative. :wink:

If I had my way, I would give this topic, its own forum. Ive lost track of the number of times Ive heard Writing being described as therapeutic.
Scrivener, is about writing. Would anyone disagree? Writing`s therapy :question:
Take care Folks

Here is something you may find interesting

Many famous authors are bipolar or “type I” Manic depressive. Interesting enough the illness has many drawbacks but also offers many creative outputs of expression and when a writer is in a Mania episode their riding stamina takes on a whole new course. Like a hyperactive child on speed. Since in a mania episode, eating and sleeping are hardly needed or wanted a creative person gets in the “zone” and seems inexhaustible. The words flow with ease and the pages pile up. Next thing they know they have written over 15,000 words and still feel like running a marathon. :slight_smile:

Life always seeks balance.

Who knows many reading this thread may suffer as well :slight_smile:

The question “How can one be sane in an insane world” comes to mind.

PS: Writing is very therapeutic and thought provoking. This instills a sense of wonder and make life that much more interesting.

And who knows… maybe something one writes could change the life of another in a good and therapeutic way.

Encourage creativity and the world will leave you with a sense of wonder.


Ive perused similar lists before. Its always fascinated me, that people so badly affected in one way, are capable of such achievement and sheer brilliance in others. One wonders; is it in spite of, or because of?

My gut instincts( un-proveable), are telling me, that there will be quite a few people out there, that come across this thread, for whom a chord is struck. There will be sufferers of other debilitating conditions as well as depressive illnesses. I would expect writing to be of therapeutic value to most of them, given even the most rudimentary of writing skills.

However, when people mention writing about their illnesses, as therapy, I hear alarm bells. I would hate to think, that people embarking upon this course of action, assume a therapeutic effect, will always be the subsequent outcome. I fear a reinforcement of the negative impact of their condition, is a possible, if not probable consequence. I would love to hear to the contrary, from people that can prove me mistaken.

As for writing per se (excepting the previous point), Id say even if its with stone tablet, mallet and chisel, write your bloody heads off, about anything and everything, somethings and nothings,…just write :wink:

Take care folks

I think a view point from someone reading the text is also beneficial. If you have a million things running through your head all the time, and you want to convey that to the reader - you need to be careful in how you manage that.

You could confuse and alienate the reader. The reader could even disbelieve the writing because it feels far fetched. So even if the thoughts are coming ten to the dozen, the writer needs to slow down a bit to convey those thoughts.

Perhaps a method of intersperceing a normal pacing with manic periods of text would not only give the reader a chance to get into the flow of the story, but would also give him the slight disorentating feeling that the writer wants to convey.

I agree with Pink (and see the points made near the top, too). If you think about it, plenty of writers have written about their own issues but in a way which engages the reader effectively. Have a read of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, or Running with Scissors by Augustin Burroughs (painful stuff made completely hilarious), or even A Boy Named It by David Pelzer. Not aware of any books specifically about manic depression or bi-polarism, but read any of Stephen Fry’s autobiographies to get a flavour of what one bipolar person can do with writing.

Hugh, thanks for that. I should rephrase. I didn’t mean I wasn’t aware of any texts on the subject, but that I did not know about fictionalised accounts, or personal stories a la Running with Scissors or A Boy Named It.

Something else. Don’t fall into the trap thinking “racing thoughts” is actually like thinking sped it up. It isn’t really It is more like you mind won’t shut up. There aren’t “spaces between” thoughts if you would. It is more like ADD but where one thought leads to another with no time between them.

ex. “Looking at the faucet, I realize I need get out my tools and fix that god forsaken leak. Every time I hear that hollow dripping sound it feels like torture. It reminds me of a drum being beat over and over. Like the little drummer boy. Drummer boy. I need to go Christmas shopping. Ugh. I need to get gas before I travel to the mall. I hate getting gas at this late hour.”

I went from fixing the faucet to how the faucet is torture to christmas shopping to getting gas for my truck. All in one paragraph. That is what “racing thoughts” is more like. In a mania episode the easiest way I can explain that is sit down and drink about 8 expresso’s real quick. Do this when you are highly motivated to do something say like spring cleaning. Now spring cleaning on 8 expresso’s would be a lot like a mania episode except along with that mania episode comes false happiness with no real explanation. Laughing at times when something isn’t really funny. etc.

The depression comes when you “crash”. The problem is crashing could take minutes, hours, days, or even weeks before you actually come down.

Imagine if you would drinking three pots of coffee and then feeling the caffeine buzz for three straight weeks with no break. That is about the easiest I can explain mania.

In writing it you can actually make the “mania” episodes the more light hearted humorous side of a character. It gives room for many situations that can be funny and you don’t need to bombard the read with a million thoughts to show the mania. Rather show the manic person loosing attention or their attention straying a lot. If someone is talking to them in the middle of the conversation they may look at the walls and realize they need to paint. They may even actually head to the garage to get a paint brush while this is on their mind but when they get to the kitchen their thoughts may stray to eating and they may offer their guest a snack. The whole time while their guest had been speaking to them. :slight_smile:

The depressive side will be the opposite. Lack of motivation. Lack of humor. Lack of energy. Lethargic and mind numbing.

It could make for a very interesting character.

Dr. Jeckle / Mr. Hyde in the truest sense.