Zoe the Hamster with Bipolar Foils Death Yet Again!

Okay, well Zoe doesn’t have a bona fide DSM-5 bipolar diagnosis, but I had to rope you in somehow! imgres

(She does seem to have rather mercurial states of mind.)   

To tell you the truth, I find it interesting that the first topic I wanted to write about today wasn’t bipolar-related. That’s a novelty. I think about bipolar disorder so constantly that it feels like a part-time job. While a hamster on the lam may not be quite as fascinating a subject as bipolar disorder, it feels good to focus on the critter and give my weary brain a break. 

Actually, I do bring up bipolar disorder at the close of this post, so please bear with me and don’t scamper off! 😉  Prepare yourself for some rodent-related high drama!

My brain is not feeling too fresh today because I awoke with a head cold. I become a big baby when I’m sick, even if it’s a mild bug. I felt the creeping crud coming on yesterday afternoon while I whizzed around doing too many errands. I think that hectic pace made me vulnerable to a germ which has been making the rounds. Sneezing, weakness, and the grumpies have been my only symptoms.  

Anyway, I noticed this morning it was very quiet. Preternaturally quiet. There were no sounds of Zoe frenetically running on her “Critter Trail” wheel. I walked over to her abode holding my breath.

Ahhhhhhhhhh! My worst suspicions were confirmed.

No Zoe!

During the night she bit through layers of duct tape used as a temporary measure to cover a hole in her cage. (Before you critique me, please know it wasn’t my idea to use duct tape!) Meanwhile, our dog Lucy ran excitedly from room to room. After checking the bathroom for signs of Zoe, I sequestered Lucy there. 

Next, Rilla and I went on a hamster hunt. All the while, I fervently prayed that Lucy didn’t have Zoe in her digestive system!  

I don’t want to sound like we’re negligent hamster owners, but these things do happen. We’ve had Zoe escape once before…


I worried that it was highly unlikely for us to have another happy ending.  

I ran around the house with Rilla, snot running down my face in the mayhem. I peered into every nook and cranny for the wily brown furball. I looked down over the edge of Marilla’s bunk bed that pressed up against the wall, where there were a few inches of space between bed and wall. To my shock, Zoe’s head popped out from underneath the lower bunk.  Hallelujah! After coaxing her out with hamster grub, Rilla grabbed her as gently as she could. Relief washed over me.  

I covered Zoe’s cage’s hole with a brick instead of duct tape. 

From now on, I’m calling her the Houdini Hamster. 

Now I’m tuckered out from all the commotion, so I’m off to be a banana slug. This hamster excitement took a lot out of me, but at least I don’t have a hysterical seven-year-old on my hands. Thank God I’m not making plans for a hamster funeral.

I’m also glad I had the energy to find Zoe. If this incident happened during my bipolar depression days, I would’ve hidden beneath my comforter, unable to deal with it. Finding Zoe was a small-yet-significant triumph.

Sending you all my sluggy love until late next week,


 Fascinating Banana Slug Fact:

Banana slugs can be found hanging out in our front yard. Fortunately Lucy doesn’t try to eat them – that would be gross, as they love to slither along things such as dog excrement.imgres-1imgres

Draggin’, Green Cupcakes & Climb Out of the Darkness


I am draggin’ today.  The weather is gloomy, and while I’m not depressed (Thank you GOD, thank you GOD. Always thank you GOD for that one!) I’m feeling lethargic and anxious for no good reason except perhaps existentially-speaking.  It’s just one of those days where I’ve become banana slug-like.


(Here’s a sluggish side-note.  I live in banana slug heaven: Santa Cruz County, California. U.C. Santa Cruz, the college I graduated from, boasts none other than the banana slug as its mascot.  Banana slugs love to creep and crawl where I live up in the redwoods, especially on a rainy day like today.  They are not dangerous, so that’s good – just slimy.)

So on this day of apathy what do I do?

I commit to participating in not one, but two special events taking place within the next two months.

May is Mental Health Month and its theme is “Mind Your Health”.  (Kinda cute…)  I was reminded of that early this morning when I groggily attended an online meeting of the International Bipolar Foundation’s Consumer Advisory Council.  Our facilitator was Ashley Jacobs, the Director of Operations for the International Bipolar Foundation.  At the close of our meeting Ashley asked if any of us would be participating in Mental Health Month-related activities.   There was a resounding silence; out of nowhere I felt my mouth open and I spurted out, “I could make green cupcakes with green fondant ribbons symbolizing mental health, and sell them somewhere!  The proceeds would go to the International Bipolar Foundation!”

“That’s a great idea!” Ashley replied.


Some backstory is helpful here.  Ashley and I have worked together for some time, and she edits my weekly blog for the International Bipolar Foundation.  She diligently answers my plethora of IBPF-related questions, never judging me for their sometimes-strange content.   Apart from IBPF topics, we’ve emailed one another about baking, specifically cupcakes.

Ashley knows that my daughter Avonlea is going through a cupcake-obsessed phase.  I’ve emailed Ashley photos of our cupcake creations (mostly failures, I hate to admit) that Avi and I have toiled upon.  Ashley has given me links to amazing baking websites to inspire us.  Ashley is pro-cupcake.

Green frosting is a bit sketchy, as I’m not thrilled with using yucky artificial food coloring.  There are natural (costlier) alternative colorings, however, and I’ll consider buying one  – but they’re three times the price of regular food coloring.  I also feel conflicted about selling sugary treats instead of healthier ones, but green vegan banana bread won’t cut it.  I need to figure out where to set up my table, and I’ll contact our local paper for free advertising, and give it a go.

The other event, “Climb Out of the Darkness”,  is connected with Postpartum Progress, an amazing non-profit founded by women’s maternal health advocate Katherine Stone.  Stone describes this annual event, the only one of its kind, on her Postpartum Progress website:

“It’s the world’s largest event raising awareness of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and OCD, postpartum psychosis and pregnancy depression and anxiety. The event was created by and benefits Postpartum Progress Inc., a registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that raises awareness and supports pregnant and new moms with maternal mental illness.

Women around the world participate in this grassroots event by going on a hike, climb or walk outside on the longest day of the year (June 21st) to shine a light on PPD and related illnesses. The event is open to anyone and everyone who supports our cause. Anyone can participate, as long as they register, and registration is free.”

A few days ago I commented on the Postpartum Progress Facebook page.  I wrote that I’d love to be involved in the Climb by producing a large-scale walk in my town in 2015, not 2014.  I added that I have experience in special event production and I’d want a full year to plan the event.

I forced myself to mention that in order for me to take part, I’d like my postpartum mood disorder (postpartum bipolar disorder/PPBD) to eventually be added to Postpartum Progress’ list of maternal mood disorders before the June, 2015 climb.  (I’ve bolded the currently displayed postpartum disorders in the Climb description above .)

I’ve wanted PPBD to be recognized by Postpartum Progress for a while.  When the Postpartum Progress content editor Cristi Comes (Motherhood Unadorned) gave me the chance to write about my PPBD experience for the website, I jumped at it.  If PPBD was acknowledged by Postpartum Progress, I could truly put my heart and soul into my efforts. I want my mood disorder to be represented, ya know?)  It’s a perfectly reasonable request, I think.

After noticing that I wished to hold off until 2015, Katherine commented asking me, “Why not start out this year?”  I paused for a moment.  Then I reviewed the Postpartum Progress Climb website more closely  and I realized that I didn’t have to organize a big, ol event in less than sixty days.  (By the way, I could have joined another Climb group, but the closest one is too far away from me for my comfort.)

This June 21, the Climb date, it can all be very simple.  I won’t have to gather up a bunch of people.  There are three ways to participate, and of them is that I can walk as an individual.  I can involve my family and friends (and hopefully my new puppy!!) if I choose.  That’s the perfect way for me to get crackin’.  I registered a few minutes ago, and if you’d like to sponsor me, please visit this link:


My two daughters donated the contents of their piggy banks, and my husband donated too!

Thanks, as always, for reading, and I wish you a wonderful weekend!



For more information about the Climb Out of the Darkness event and Mental Health month, please visit: