About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have a poem in The Poeming Pigeon, essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. My story "Santa Lucia" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. I've written three novels entitled Purple Loosestrife, Hoping It Might Be So, and Dark and Bright, all of which are as yet unpublished. I'm working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What Is a Brain Zap?

I've had people ask me what a brain zap is (see my February 25th post for some information about brain zaps in general). Well, a brain zap is very difficult to describe. They've happened to me with the antidepressant Effexor. At times when I had forgotten to take the medication in the morning, or when I'm going off it as I am currently, I've gotten brain zaps as one side effect of withdrawal.

Zaps tends to occur when I turn my head or move around, but they can also happen randomly when I'm just sitting still. A zap is sort of a noise inside my head that sounds metallic, but also a feeling of a surge of some sort going through my head. It's so hard to describe as you can probably tell from my word choices here. The noise sounds kind of like "ch-chunk"--like a piece of metal shifting. And with that shifting, I feel something akin to a shock traveling from one side of my head to the other. Zaps don't hurt, though--they just feel weird, and they can have a lingering effect of making me dizzy.

I'm currently off of Effexor because I've switched to Wellbutrin. I just stopped Effexor entirely after tapering off it (under my psychiatrist's care) for the past several months. I've switched because of some negative side effects I was having with Effexor that I don't have with Wellbutrin. Since I'm just off the Effexor, I'm experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which include brain zaps, dizziness, headache, vague nausea, and tingling in my face and limbs.

I expect that these withdrawal symptoms will last for at least a few days, but the good thing about withdrawal is that it only lessens with the passage of time. Whatever the case may be, finding the right meds is integral to controlling an illness such as bipolar I disorder, which is what I have. I was diagnosed nearly eighteen years ago, and my meds still need tweaking at times. For anyone out there with mental illness, keep your chin up, take your meds, and always strive to find the right combination of meds to control your disorder. The meds I take now are Wellbutrin, Abilify, Lamictal, and Clonazepam. They're working, and I hope they'll work for a long while.


  1. Wow! That is fascinating! And unpleasant for you, so I apologize that my curiosity-meter is peaking like crazy right now. Emily, I do wish you the best of luck in the transition to the new meds! So have you written any bi-polar characters?

    1. It is fascinating really, so no need to apologize for your curiosity! I've written quite a few characters with mental illness in my literary short stories and in the literary novel I'm finishing tweaking and proofing. I have schizophrenic and depressed characters in some stories, and one of the main characters in my novel has schizoaffective disorder, which is like a combination of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I'm also working on a memoir about my experiences with bipolar disorder. It's slow-going, but I think it will be worth it. :)