1. Blue Screen of Death
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    Blue Screen of Death Member

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    Bipolar character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Blue Screen of Death, Aug 25, 2009.

    I've been thinking of making a character of mine bipolar, but I'd like to know how far is to far when changing their mood.

    Also, the characters friend thinks she has a small cat who rides on her shoulder and can talk. This a little much?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Depends on your audience. I can see a lot of people enjoying its surreal sweetness, and others just thinking its stupid. Depends, as always, on how you write it.

    Maybe read about bipolar disorder, see if you can talk to anyone who suffers from it.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I suggest you do some research on bipolar disorder. I'm sure there are numerous accounts of patients and personal experiences on the internet. I once knew someone with bipolar disorder, but since he didn't experience many mood swings, I don't have much info on that. But I do know that he sometimes experienced sudden impulsiveness.

    I don't think it's going too far for the character's friend. I read a long time ago about a young girl (4 or 5) who had hallucinations of animals and people. She even said that the animals talked to her. I don't remember exactly what disorder she had, but it was very severe and was getting worse everyday. I'm not even sure if she lived past a young age. So, yes, I have heard about someone like the character's friend you mention. But before you write, I highly recommend a lot of research.
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    nothing's too much if you can make sense of it to the reader...

    as for the bipolar character, i wouldn't advise trying that, unless you've either been there yourself, or someone close to you has the disorder... or unless you've done the massive amounts of in-depth research it would take to be able to portray someone with it accurately and believably...

    i've dealt with someone who had a full-blown case of it, but i'm not sure what you actually mean by [to (sic) far when changing their mood'... it's not like a jekyll/hyde character or bat/vampire suddenly becoming the other... or a person with MPD switching from one of his personas to the next...

    you need to do your homework and study the DSM IV section on MDD... and check out some of the many websites set up for sufferers of the disorder... chat with some who do and ask them how it happens/feels...
     
  5. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    Bi-polar is a rather strange thing and as people have already pointed out isn't as clear cut as jeckyl and hyde In fact it is far more complex, mood swings can happen at any time and may not be entirely obvious a person can go from being rather happy and joyous to completely depressed within a matter of seconds for no reason what so ever and you may find yourself irritated by small things which don't usually matter just because. It doesn't mean you will snap all the time, although there may be moments when the person is rather irritable, nor does it mean you are someone else, although sometimes alter egos do appear, especially if the person involved tends to act out of character when in these moments and this may even come into conflict with the dominant personality (a rather interesting experience when you are arguing with yourself i can tell you) you may find that certain traits are picked up as well, personally when i am in a really down mood i tend to listen a lot to POTO soundtrack, friends have been known to avoid me in these times. The main emphasis here though is research, it is different for different people and unless you know a lot about the subject try and steer clear however i would recommend reading the K-pax trilogy for an insight into how thsi can be done, and also prozac nation for a true life account of depression which is often closely linked with bi-polar disorder
     
  6. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't even think of writing a bipolar character unless I had a good understanding of the disorder first.
     
  7. Snap
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    Snap Member

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    You really, really need to make it realistic. Bi-polar disorder is a terrible thing to have. My uncle is bi-polar, and to put it in perspective, when he is in one of his "high" moods, he would go out and buy a new car (like a mustang), when he and my aunt don't have nearly the money for it (they are on a very limited budget). When his mood goes down, he has been known to come after my aunt with a knife. So yes, I would do some research, and make it believable. Just last month, my uncle was hospitalized. From his hospital bed, when he was feeling rather good, he ordered two truck-loads of gravel to be delivered to my aunt and uncle's driveway. They have a one car drive way. Luckily, they called my aunt before they dropped it off, and she was able to call it off.
     
  8. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    Actually i do similar things to what snaps has mentioned i ahven't taken a knife out on anyone other thsn myself addmittedly but teh random spending when i do not have enough money i have done, niothing as extravagent as a car admitedly but i have purchased computers and videogames consoles before just as a spur of a moment thing
     
  9. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I have some people that I work with who might actually believe that they have a cat riding around on their shoulder...

    I used to be "bipolar" but I was nothing compared to my aunt. She would be up for three days straight doing random things (like gardening, organizing her CD's, etcetera) and then she would sleep for two or three days straight.
     
  10. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    That last sounds a bit more schizotypal than manic-depressive (though when my dad's manic enough, he's also delusional...)

    In my personal experiance, mood swings are gradual, and the mood, once swung to, lasts for a while--manic for a week, depressive for a week--rather than "I'm happy" one minute and "I'm going to kill myself" the next. I heard of an example in psychology class who, for six months, would be out every night at various clubs and activities--then one week he'd only be out five nights, then four, then two, then none at all for six months, then one week he'd be out two nights, then three, then...
     
  11. stormy
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    stormy New Member

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    I do suffer from it along with other depressive illness. so if you want to ask me any questions, please feel free to get in there.

    I dont have a cat on my shoulder, but now and then i have an naughty imp.
     
  12. Blue Screen of Death
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    Blue Screen of Death Member

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    Thanks you guys, your advice really helped. The cat may turn out to be a smaller mammal, or maybe even a bird or something. If it is a bird, it would probably be a parrot. Maybe a penguin.
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    A penguin that says "Sliiide." ;)
     
  14. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    When my bipolar grandmother skips her meds, especially after a few days, she totally flips moods. She sometimes hallucinates. She can be all happy and loving, and then only seconds later, mean and cruel.

    How about not even mention that your character is bipolar. If you write the character close enough to someone that seems to be bipolar, those familiar with it will think your MC is bipolar. Those that aren't familiar will think the character is eccentric, or flat out crazy. Either way, it could make for an interesting character.
     
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  15. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your Bipolar character can have any delusions or hallucinations(making them bipolar disorder with psychotic features), but remember, they need to be mood congruent. Delusions of grandeur are very common.

    A cat on a shoulder sounds like schizophrenia... unless the cat is telling her that she's the president or the messiah to the feline world or a billionare.

    I'd recommend looking up the DSM criteria for diagnosing Bipolar Type 1. They're seven points and basically if your character can meet four of them you've got yourself bipolar patient. And although rapid cycling from depression to mania is exceedingly rare, it is possible and would probably make a far more interesting character.
     
  16. KillerQueen
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    KillerQueen New Member

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    I have Bipolar disorder and my moods switch up really fast at any time. One second I can be all happy and nice, then mean and vicious. I usually feel guilty during and afterwards, so I go an apologize like a second after I'm done snapping at the person.

    When I'm on a "high" if you will call it, I like to go out and spend money on stuff that I don't even need. Like one time, I brought a huge pizza that I didn't even eat just 'cause I thought I was "getting back" at my mom, even though I spent my own money so really I wasn't doing any harm to her. That was really stupid and useless but I was fifteen at the time, so eh.

    Another time I got so mad I destroyed my room and everything in it. Took a perm. marker and wrote curse words on my wall. My mom was pissed, but she left me to myself. I broke down crying for hours on my room floor afterwards. There's been different times where I've tried to kill myself too, and pulled a knife out on my cousin. Also I was convinced my mom was trying to kill me once because she brought regular iced tea instead of diet and that her boyfriend (who drove the car to the store) was an accomplice. Sometimes I like to go out and hang out and do stuff, and other times I’ll just stay in the house for weeks at a time not doing anything at all.

    That’s just my experience with the disorder. As for your character, I think you should read up on the illness. I think the mood change thing can be different depending on if your character has Bipolar I or Bipolar II.

    As for the cat thing…err…. No comment.
     

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