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Manic Panic

by JessicaPaul 

Posted: 16 May 2012
Word Count: 89
Summary: A work in progress. I'm hoping it's quite evident from the content what the poem's about. I'm currently studying Psychology and wanted to try and write something that related to my current topic. I'm hoping it doesn't sound too simplistic, or overly-reductive of the disorder as I don't have first hand experience.
Related Works: The River Path • 

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The pacing’s racing. I’m chasing my
shadow’s tracing.
I dash. I crash. Go out on the lash,
camera’s flash.
I blurt. I flirt. Wear see-through shirts
and tiny skirts.
I’m fine. I shine. Show off what’s mine.
No need for sleep – I don’t feel weak.

I sip, flip, punch someone’s lip;
dark bruises on their cheek.

I scream;
believing sights
not seen.
Terror found
in unknown faces.
Sounds too loud
in open spaces.
Intense colours
show an evil side.
I’m fighting
for my right
to stay alive.

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Comments by other Members

FelixBenson at 13:12 on 17 May 2012  Report this post
Hi Jessica

Well you have certainly used sound well in this poem - the full rhymes and the short lines combine to give the impression of drama, urgency and abrupt change. I'm guessing this is come kind of manic disorder from the title - like bi-polar disorder?

I'm sure this sense of urgency is what you were trying to convey, and you've done it well. I notice the poem focuses on behaviour and actions, exactly what is exhibited by the patient rather than how it feels have these disturbing changes of mood, which sort of makes sense because the changes in behaviour in some cases (I think...?) can be chemical, and so it's harder to show what goes on below the surface.

Sometimes sticking to full rhyme is so effective - this helps you here conveying a character lurching from mood to mood. And the language is lively
I dash. I crash. Go out on the lash,

But what can happen sometime is that sticking to a full rhyme can send you up a bit of a blind alley, so you include lines that maybe don't help move the poem on.

I'm thinking of:
It started fab but then turned bad.

I'm not sure this line is necessary because we can see the mood shift in the other line, and can see that the 'up' mood has now crashed down. and although it fits in with the style of the other lines which is reportage of the mood shift, I'm not sure you need it.

The other thing I wasn't sure about was in the first line
My pacing’s racing
, I think I know what you mean - is it another way of saying my pulse is racing? I wonder if it's worth changing it to my heart's racing? Or is that too boring? But I like
chasing my
shadow’s tracing.
. Gives a good sense of being on the edge - even of their own shadow.

Given that you have said this poem is a work in progress, one thing I was going to suggest was maybe a switch in the rhyming from full rhyme to half rhyme when the mood shift happened. So full rhymes for the 'up' mood and half rhymes for the low mood. It would be another way of indicating the extreme shift in the language and tone of the poem. Like using major and minor chords in music. Just an idea that might be worth playing with.

Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed reading it.


JessicaPaul at 14:53 on 17 May 2012  Report this post
Hi Kirsty,
Thanks for your comment. I'm glad to hear you sensed the urgency that I was trying to incorporate. The poem is indeed about bipolar, and more specifically the manic stage.
I know what you mean about the line 'it started bad but then turned bad' - like you say I was trying to stay in the format that I'd set up but hadn't thought that a change might actually prove to be an effective illustration of the shift of meaning - nice tip!
The line 'my pacing's racing' was meant to be her pace, not pulse, to show how everything's sped up but perhaps I need to look at it - maybe it might work better as ' the pacing's racing'?
Just one question, I'm showing off the fact i'm a novice here, but what do you mean by full and half rhyme? I don't really understand poetry terminology! I guess you mean full rhyme as 'chasing' and 'racing' and half as 'chasing' and 'race' but have a feeling im over simplifying here. Or do you mean only rhyming half of the lines together? :-S Such a newbie!
Thanks again for commenting,

V`yonne at 15:27 on 17 May 2012  Report this post
I think maybe you could pull back from the full rhyme a bit here and there. This achieves pace but for me there a couple of places where it looses credibility because of the adherence to rhyme. One such is
I sip. Then flip. Punch someone�s lip.
Leave dark bruises on their cheek.
I choke, I joke, maybe take a little coke.
It started fab but then turned bad.

Maybe the order is just wrong here...

I sip, flip, punch someone�s lip.

can work without the extra words and is even more pacy.
Leave dark bruises on their cheek.

is quite a serious line so maybe in recognition of the gravity of that act:
I choke, blame coke, try to make
some sad joke.

Kirsty has given excellent ideas.

JessicaPaul at 17:13 on 17 May 2012  Report this post
Thanks Oonah,
it sounds to me like you both like the first stanza but think the second stanza is too forced by the rhyming format. I think I might consider changing the second stanza quite a bit so that I can convey the shift in state in a less structured way. To me, this is where teh poem goes from being a 'happy' manic to the more synister panic. I'll experiment with some ways of voicing that.
Thanks again for your comments, they've both been very helpful.

James Graham at 18:56 on 17 May 2012  Report this post
Ok, a little know-how on rhyme and half-rhyme. In full rhyme the final vowels and consonants sound the same, as in dash/ crash/ lash. In half-rhyme, or partial rhyme, the consonants rhyme but the vowels don’t, e.g lash/ lush or pace/ trice. (These particular examples wouldn’t suit your poem, of course.)

Or else in half-rhyme you can have the vowel sounds rhyming but the consonants different. You’ve got some examples in this poem: sleep/ weak and fab/ bad.

The effects of half-rhyme are many and various; how versatile it can be is something I suppose you can learn only from experience. As regards the current poem, I agree with Kirsty that the mood shift from high to low could be marked by a shift from full rhyme to half-rhyme. As Kirsty says, half-rhyme is like a minor key, there’s uncertainty in it. It would mean some reworking of your second stanza, but you should try it.

By the way, as I'm sure you know already because you've demonstrated it in the poem, there's end-rhyme and internal rhyme (i.e. anywhere else except at the ends of lines). Free and flexible placing of internal rhymes is very largely a modern development, very rare in older poetry.


TessaF at 19:13 on 17 May 2012  Report this post
Hi there Jessica

I enjoyed your poem and knew straight away that it was about bipolar disorder. A lot of what I wanted to say has been covered already (I'm just not quick enough!), but to reiterate both the rhyming and abrupt sentences in the first stanza do convey mania very well I think.

I knew someone with bipolar disorder and in his heightened state he talked rapidly, his mind flew from one idea to another and seemed to go to some strange places but he did not display some of the more 'typical' signs. His depressive phase was just terrible - he did not know how he would get through the day - he seemed to slow down completely (I thought). So the suggestion to change the rhyming scheme in the second stanza is a great one.

James has given you a much better explanation of half-rhyme than I ever could!

I enjoyed reading this. Looking forward to seeing more


JessicaPaul at 09:59 on 18 May 2012  Report this post
Thankyou James and Tessa.
James, once again, you've given some great explanations. I've been trying to use less conventional rhyming formats in a few of my poems now - mainly because I love using rhyme but am aware that trying to stick to strict rhyming conventions means that I often do my poems a disservice, resorting to cliche's to fill my quota.
Tessa, I'm really thrilled to hear you say you enjoyed reading it and look forward to seeing more - must mean I'm not too far off. I'm still really new to writing poetry, and my work is only based on what and how I like to write, rather than any real knowledge of it. However, I am trying! I want to learn more about the art as I think if you're going to do something, atleast try and do it well. I'm glad you thought the sound of the first stanza conveyed mania well.
I've reworked the last half of the poem, chopping a great chunk and replacing it. I wanted to show the shift from relatively 'happy' mania, to it becoming more sinister and scary, with hints of paranoia and psychosis coming through. I've tried to abandon a rhyming format, while still using a mix of full and half rhyme to give it the uncertainty that you all suggested. Hopefully it's worked, but I'm not really sure about the last 3 lines. I think they might be a bit too 'obvious' if you know what I mean? I'd be really grateful to hear what you all think of the revisions.
Thanks again to everyone for all their comments so far - it's been such a big help.

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