Where Did Crystal Go?

Where Did Crystal GoI will be having surgery on August 22 to replace my defibrillator. I have written about my physical health problems a couple of times but this is the first major event/surgery I have had in quite a few years.

I will not be blogging “live” on a regular basis. However, I do have my Popsugar, Ipsy, and Birchbox reviews for August ready to post. I will also have some guest bloggers post. I am really excited about having these guest bloggers come in. I think they are going to add something new to the blog.

One guest blogger will be a friend of mine who is going into therapy for the first time. She will be writing about her experiences in therapy from the perspective of a first timer!

Another guest will be writing about nutrition, how nutrition relates to physical and mental health, and some recipes to try.

Each one of these bloggers will introduce themselves in a separate post so I’m not going to give too much away. I cannot wait to read what they have to share.

I will still be on all social networks but may be slow to answer and follow back. I look forward to coming back to Finding Crystal with new ideas and I am excited about some things I have been working on. I hope you stick around to read the guest posts as well as reviews that I have planned. I hope to return to a regular blogging schedule by September 22nd and will keep you all updated on my progress. Be sure you are following me on Google+, Facebook- FRIEND ME and/or LIKE FINDING CRYSTAL, and on Twitter! You may also want to follow my Instagram!

See you soon!

 

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Can I Tell You A Secret?

I’m having surgery Friday and I am terrified. I’ve had to put my blog and social networking on hold because of my surgery. You may have noticed a pinned post at the top of the blog saying that I will be gone for a couple of weeks.

Before I was ten years old, I had had four open heart surgeries. I was born with a double outlet right ventricle, aortic regurgitation, and ventricular septal defect. I had my first defibrillator implanted in my chest at nine years old. I have had to have my defibrillator replaced every 4-7 years since I was 9. I had a replacement at 13, 17, 22, and now I’m getting ready to have it replaced on Friday.

Can I Tell You A Secret

I have spent this week receiving shots because I also have a St. Jude mechanical valve. I take blood thinner to prevent blood clots around the valve. Since I’m having surgery, I cannot take my normal blood thinner. I’ve been going twice a day to receive shots that hurt like hell. The valve generally last about 10 years. I am on my 22nd year with the same valve. Yes, I have been lucky in this regard but I live with the fear everyday that something will go wrong.

This will be my fifth defibrillator. I am 31. I have lived with this all my life. You would think that I would be used to it. Those that are close to me know this and know what I’m going through. I am terrified of having surgery. I am possibly more scared than I have ever been. It has been harder each time. None of this ever gets any easier.

When I was nine years old I imagined what my life would be like when I grew up. I thought that surgery would no longer faze me and it would be a breeze. I am more scared now than I was when I was 9. I think there are several reasons for this. One of them is I know everything that could go wrong. I went through two weeks of cardiac at my job as a disability examiner. There’s a lot of shit that can go wrong in there.  Another is I am realizing with every surgery that this is something I will be dealing with for the rest of my life. This will never go away and could possibly get worse as I get older. I am coming to the realization that when I am healthy, I am really healthy. However, when I’m not healthy, I’m REALLY not healthy.

Also, I think my anxiety and depression plays a huge role in the dread I feel. I have never had anxiety this bad about something. It has affected my sleeping pattern and eating (as in, I don’t eat). Ever since ‘defibrillator replacement’ rolled off the doctor’s tongue, I’ve been in a constant state of anxiety. If there is anything good about this situation, it is that I don’t work and don’t have to worry about taking time off work.

I hope you will stick around and read posts from guest bloggers. I cannot wait to read them. I also have a couple reviews scheduled and I have a couple thinks that I will type up whenever I am able. Until then, I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. So many of you have already reached out through Twitter or Facebook. Thank you.

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Adovia Moisturizer Review

I am reviewing Adovia Moisturizer. I have to say, I’m really bad when it comes to maintaining a skin care regimen. I wash my face with a cleanser and use toner but that’s really all I do. I know that I am getting to ‘that’ age where I need to start using moisturizer. The problem is that I have really sensitive skin and have a hard time finding one that doesn’t cause acne. Plus, Lupus wreaks havoc on my skin and it’s all a perfect combination for breakouts.

Adovia Moisturizer Review

The Adovia Moisturizer contains Dead Sea Minerals, Aloe Vera, and Chamomile. I can tell just from those ingredients that the moisturizer would be good for my skin. Also, the smell of the cream is light which indicates a lack of chemicals to me. The moisturizer is made not only for hydration but also helps protect your skin from the sun and air pollution.

As I said, I don’t generally use a moisturizer but I tried this one. I think we have a winner. The moisturizer was thick but I found that I only had to use a little. This is great thing to remember considering how much other skin care products are and how little time a jar lasts. It did not irritate my skin and it didn’t make my skin red and tight like some moisturizers. My skin felt very soft and it would make a perfect base for makeup. Once it goes on, it’s very light and even makes your skin look fresher. I loved this and I think I may actually have to use moisturizer now.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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PopSugar August 2014 Review

Popsugar

POPSUGAR Must Have is a subscription box that comes once a month. It is $39.95 so it’s one of the pricier boxes. However, I think it’s totally worth the money. It comes with a little of everything as you will see in the picture. The value of the box this month was over $125. If you want to try the box, you can use the coupon code REFER5 to get $5 off.

Popsugar Musthave August 2014 Review

Kendra Scott Elle Earings in Slate | Retail $52: I thought these earrings were really pretty. Michael also liked them. I thought they had a bit of a hippie vibe to them which I loved!

Paddywax Ocean Tide + Sea Salt Mini Jar Candle | Retail $10: I loved that this candle was soy based. Soy based candles burn so clean. This scent was really nice, very light, and I felt like it had a good burning time.

Goodbyn Purple Meal and Dipper Set | Retail $8: This is going to come in handy when traveling. It comes with a little container for dipping and it’s also really good to portion out snacks.

The Mason Jar Cookie Company | Retail: $12: I LOVED this item. I love any type of baked good anyway so this was perfect. All you have to do is add egg and butter and you have cookies! These were really good and I actually think I’ll be ordering from them.

Lollia At Last Perfumed Shower Gel | Retail: $22: This is also an item that I loved. It has a light fragrance and made my skin feel amazing.

Bite Beauty Lush Fruit Lip | Retail: $22: I love this lip gloss. I will also be buying more of this! It comes from Sephora and they always have some type of sale going on.

thinkThin Brownie Crunch High Protein Bar | Retail: no retail given but maybe $2-$3: My husband really enjoyed this bar. He loves protein bars and he thought this was one of the tastier ones he has tried.

I highly suggest this box. If you decide to sign up, I would love if you used my affiliate link. You can find that here.

Do you subscribe to PopSugar? Do you like it?

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You’re Given Six Months- What Do You Do?

Donna Hughey My friend Courtney is currently facing that question with her mom Donna. Courtney and I went to high school together. While we did not know each other very well, we were friendly. It has only been within the last six months or so that I have gotten to know Courtney. She is the author of Fat Girl Friendly and she helped set up Finding Crystal for me. She has become a really good friend. I originally posted about Courtney’s mom in this post.

Her mom, Donna, has cancer. Courtney has dealt with her share of cancer within her family. However, on July 25th, Donna was given about six months to live. I cannot begin to imagine the devastation, heartbreak, and fear that comes with having a time period assigned to the amount of life you have left. Donna will never share with Courtney all that a mother and daughter shares as each of them grow.

Six Months To Live

Since my previous post, some much has happened. I know some of my readers liked Donna’s Facebook page and contributed so I wanted to update you on her bucket list.

  • Donna wants to get married to her long time partner Sharon – they get married August 30th.
  • She wants to meet Jeff Gordon – this happens this coming Saturday!!! Also, in addition to Jeff Gordon, Jeremy Clements racing stepped up and Donna will also get to meet him and the #51 car.
  • She wants pin up type style photos taken like those found on Trashy Betty. *This was achieved July 31*
  • Pedicures monthly- this is not a vanity request, rather one of comfort. Chemo causes neuropathy which is extremely painful. These pedicures will help with circulation. *This was achieved July 31*
  • She wants to go to the Georgia Aquarium. *GA Aquarium including World of Coke and Hotel accommodations DONE (thanks to Cathy especially and unnamed donors with extra passes and Aloft Hotel Downtown Atlanta)*
  • She wants to go to New York City to see the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 memorial. This is especially important since Courtney served in the military. *Frequent Flier miles plus other donations are making this happen*
  • She would also like a trip to Provincetown, MA.
  • The family will also have funeral expenses totaling about $1,500 or so and Donna does not have life insurance.
  • Her family has trips planned but we would like for her to have spending money to do whatever she wants. Hard Rock Cafe is going to host them in NYC for a meal as well as in Myrtle Beach and Atlanta.

In addition to the good things that are happening, there are other ‘cancer related sucky’ things happening. They have met with Hospice and they are formulating a plan. They also have met with the funeral home to make those type of plans. It has been said several times, this is not an ordinary fundraiser. Generally fundraisers are to help people and you get to see an end result. In the case of Donna’s Bucket List, at the end of this fundraiser, Courtney loses her mom. Please keep this wonderful family in your prayers.

So what can you do to help? There are two main funds set up for Donna. There is a Give Forward account set up to raise the money so we can make Donna’s bucket list come true. You can find her Facebook page here: Six Months To Live- Donna’s Story

I ask you to put yourself in this same position. What would you do if you had six months to live? What would your bucket list be?

 


 

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The Ultimate Facebook Party

We have made it to our eighth week of The Ultimate Party on Facebook!

The Ultimate Party on Facebook

Last week we had 42 different Facebook statuses linked up to the party!

Here was my favorite share of the party!

Manic Mom is a smaller page and she also is living with depression. Even though I’m not a mom, I can relate to her on many levels. Check out her Facebook page here and her blog here.

To participate in today’s party:

  • First follow your hosts and co-hosts on Facebook.

Hosts:

hosts facebook

  1. Tammy from The Ultimate Linky — Follow The Ultimate Linky on Facebook HERE.
  2. Tammy from My Life Abundant — Follow My Life Abundant on Facebook HERE.
  3. Kim from Kid PepFollow Kid Pep on Facebook HERE.
  4. Sinea from Ducks ‘n a Row– Follow Ducks ‘n a Row on Facebook HERE.

Co-hosts:

cohosts facebook

  1. Crystal from Finding Crystal — Follow Finding Crystal on Facebook HERE.
  2. Paula from Buenos Aires –Follow Paula — Buenos Aires on Facebook HERE.
  3. Amber from Snapshots and Snippets — Follow Snapshots and Snippets on Facebook HERE.
  • Go to The Ultimate Party’s page on Facebook HERE.

  • Add one or two of your Facebook statuses that you want boosted as a comment to the top post on the page. The post says “The Ultimate Party on Facebook, Week 4!!!”

Here is how to find the URL of the Facebook post:
Go to your Facebook page.
Find the post you want to boost (have people like/comment/share).
Click on the time under the title. I would click on “30 minutes ago.”
time for facebook.

Then go up to the browser window and copy the URL. It will look like this:
URL of facebook post

Paste this URL as a comment on The Ultimate Party’s page.

  • Go and boost at least 3 other statuses for every status you link up. Like, comment, or share the other Facebook posts. I cannot be on Facebook all day! The hosts and co-hosts will do their best to boost every post, but we need your help!
  • Please follow our Facebook page (The Ultimate Party) if you want to see our updates!
  • If you wish, you can follow our Pinterest board called The Ultimate Party where all of your hosts can pin your great posts.
  • Optional: You can include your pin URL for that post so that others can pin it if they want to. If you repin the pin, please try to remember to include the hashtag #theultimateparty in the pin description.
  • We would love it if you grabbed our button!
The Ultimate Linky

And we would love some tweets! Thank you!



Before you link up, we have one more special feature that truly makes this Facebook party The Ultimate Party!

Every weekday except for Tuesday, you can share your posts on one of the host’s pages.
Go and link up one of your posts as a comment to the post on the host’s Facebook page. (It will be pinned at the top or will be very close to the top of the page.)

Here is the schedule:Schedule for Facebook share days

Now go HERE to party!

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How the Depressed Head and Heart Feels

If you use the search box to search for the word depression on this blog, you will find nine pages of entries educating, venting, analyzing, or talking about the subject in general. I’ve even done it for you. You can click here to browse if you wish. The point in that little exercise is to demonstrate just how dominate depression is in my life. I want to take you on a journey. I’m going to take you through the head and heart of depression is regards to my experience. While I realize that not all journeys aren’t like mine, for anyone who has never experienced depression, it will give you a good idea.

Inside the Head and Heart of a Depressed Person MeI have lived with depression and anxiety for four years. Medications, my psychiatrist, and support from my family and friends helps but the darkness never completely goes away. And if it does recede, it is just on the outskirts waiting for a trigger. My personal triggers often come from events that do not affect me directly or from small, insignificant events. Depending on my mental state at the time of the trigger is how I react to it.

For the past two months, I have lived in my own personal hell. I can’t seem to ‘snap out of it’ or be happy again. I’ve learned to fake it, I’ve learned coping mechanisms, but depression has been firmly parked in me for two months. It is a dark hole; I cannot even see my hand in front of my face. I see no light and there is no way out. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning, other times I am feel like I am treading water. However, a few days ago, I encountered a trigger that has sent me into a spiral of hurt. If you haven’t been living under a rock, you have heard by now that Robin Williams committed suicide. But this wasn’t my trigger.

I am very active on Facebook, sometimes too active. However, because of my personal health problems, it is my main source of socialization. It can be a blessing and a curse. When the suicide was reported about Robin Williams, social media lit up. Everyone had an opinion or a way he could have ‘fixed’ this.  There was a group of people that said that all it takes is Jesus to cure your depression; you just have to want it bad enough. You just have to speak it and have enough faith. There were also people calling the act selfish and self centered. And I triggered. It could have been much worse had I not removed myself from social media while all the rhetoric fizzled out. However, I could feel the soul sucking feeling of suicidal thoughts rising up and I stepped away.

If wanting, begging, claiming, praying, speaking, etc worked, I would have been cured four years ago. For four years, I have begged God to take this feeling of wanting to die away. I have bargained with Him, I have pleaded with Him, I started Bible studies about depression, and faithfully attended church. Fellow Christians tried helping by giving me Bible verses to memorize and stories of depression in the Bible to remember. I truly felt that I wasn’t being faithful enough. Maybe I wasn’t praying hard enough, I hadn’t asked the right way, I hadn’t ‘claimed’ my rescue loud or faithfully enough, and on it goes. In four years, there has only been a handful of so called Christians that have reached out to me in love and not with advice. There have only been a few that tried to understand what I was going though and offered a hand to hold me up. And those hands came from unexpected places, as did the condemnation.

And then a lot of people said suicide was selfish. They said the person wasn’t thinking about the family and/or friends they would leave behind. They said Robin Williams did not think about his daughter he was leaving behind. First of all, I want to start out by saying that no one, no one, can predict what another person is thinking, in particular and especially a person who is dealing with the demon of depression. However, from my experience, suicide is not selfish at all. The times that I have thought about it and seriously considered it have been the exact opposite of selfish. My thought process has always gone something like this: “I am a burden to Michael, a burden to my family, and a burden to society. If I wasn’t around, all of those things would be much better.” And then there’s this voice in my head that tells me not to over think it, just do it. The pain will end if I just do it and those around me would be free.

You see, Michael has to regulate my medications. I get two days worth of medication at a time. All bottles of pills are kept where I can’t find them. Yes, I have gone looking for them before. And yes I have found them before. And it has taken every part of my being to put the pills away. I hold onto these moments because I believe they show that I truly do not want to die. I have told Michael when this has happened and he would have to move the location of the pills.

This whole process kills my spirit a little bit each time. Each time the thought of suicide crosses my mind, every time I start to make a plan, my spirit dies a little bit more. I fall a little deeper into a hole that has to widen to accommodate the despair and hopelessness that I feel. And to tell me that these feelings are selfish, only deepens the cuts. Depression truly is the teeter tottering of being dead and alive. I’m breathing, my heart is beating, and my brain is alive, but my spirit feels dead. I feel lost, alone, and hopeless. And sometimes, these feelings will increase to feeling like I’m being buried alive in my dark hole. And I just want it to end.

I don’t want another lecture of how selfish I am. I don’t need to do another Bible study or pray or claim my independence from depression or have just a little bit more faith. I also don’t need people to tell me to put myself in other people’s shoes and try to feel what they are feeling. I have enough feelings of inadequacy just to have another task placed on me that I cannot do.

So next time someone is depressed, even if you don’t understand what they are going through, a “I’m here for you” is all it takes. Depressed people just want to know that someone out there cares. However, even then, it might not be enough. I cannot tell you how many times I have stood on the edge of life and death. If the depression is so deep that suicide becomes the only answer for them, there’s nothing you can do but let them know you are there.

 

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Konjac Fiber Sponge Review

Konjac Facial Sponge Review

I received the Konjac Sponge to review. I love facial sponges, body sponges, and those loofah things. They always make my skin feel so smooth. Having Lupus, it’s also important to make sure my skin is exfoliated to keep from getting any type of skin infection.

My first impression of this sponge was confusion. When I took it out of the wrapper, it was hard. Once I read the box (which I should have done first), I realized that you had to wet it to “activate” it, so to speak. Once activated, the sponge is surprisingly soft but still feels like it would exfoliate your skin. It just does so gently, sort of like a loofah.

One thing that I really liked about this sponge was it is 100% natural Konjac fiber. It is difficult to explain the feeling of the sponge but it is very soft. It’s infused with bamboo charcoal which helps detoxify the skin. This comes in handy when you have Lupus. You can use it by itself or with cleanser and it works just as well. The box it came in said it was biodegradable, sustainably developed, has no chemicals and nothing else added to it. The sponge holds water really well when it is being used.

Once I had finished with the sponge, I handed it over to Michael. I have plenty of facial sponges. He is a mechanic so he is around chemical and fumes that engines give off. He liked this because he said he felt like it really cleaned his face without any type of soap. Because of his job, his skin gets really dry so this was perfect to help exfoliate his skin as well. He will use the sponge and I am curious to see how the sponge withstands his use.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

 

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Shea Butter Review

Shea Butter Review

I received Adovia Mineral Skin Care’s Pure Shea Butter to review. I didn’t really have any experience with this type of product so I had to do some research. I found out that Shea butter can be used to make your own lotions, shampoos, conditioners, along with numerous other products. And what the Shea butter is really good for is lotion and dry skin. Because I had never tried anything like it, I Googled it to see what I could find. I really like the Shea Butter Guide. It has lots of recipes for lotions and soaps. I might even try to make my own soap. You’ll have to stay tuned to see!

This product came in a tub type container that had a lid to help keep it fresh. It is solid, kind of like butter you would cook with.  However, I did not have a problem getting some out of the container to test on my hands. I was also surprised at home much came in one container. It will last forever.

This stuff felt amazing. It was very smooth and very slick. My husband called it “an organic alternative to Vaseline,” and this is exactly what it is. My mom has really dry hands in the winter so I will definitely see what I can do to make her some lotion with this. It had an industrial, almost newspaper type smell. It wasn’t bad but adding some essential oils to it would probably make it smell a little less industrial.

Michael (my husband) is a mechanic. He is always looking for different uses for everything. He said that the Shea butter would also make a good mechanical lubricant for putting together gaskets and hoses. In addition, since he is a mechanic, his hands get beat up and become extremely dry. This will be awesome for him to use to help soothe his hands and hydrate them.

We cannot wait to see what else this can be used for!

Have you ever used Shea butter and if so, how did you use it?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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Why Mental Health Awareness Matters

I want to address mental illness from the perspective of why it is important to have conversations about it in the first place. I will eventually write some more personal posts, particularly given the recent event of Robin Williams committing suicide (that still doesn’t feel real), but it is still too raw to write a personal post. If you are a regular reader of Finding Crystal, you already know that I personally struggle with depression, anxiety, and on occasion, the soul sucking feeling of suicidal thoughts. If you are not a regular reader, then I invite you to browse the mental health category. However, if you want the three most important posts, look below for the links.

Why Mental Health Awareness Matters

Why Mental Health Awareness Matters:

  1. There have been approximately 130 school shootings in the past ten years. Let that sink in for a minute. That means, on average, there has been one school shooting every month for 10 years; and 2014 is not even over yet. Look, I get it. There are some evil people in the world. However, examinations of many, if not most, of the shootings show that mental illness was a factor. It was often overlooked and/or ignored.
  2. Mental illness is in the top five reasons people apply for disability. When I was a disability examiner, we learned that musculoskeletal (arthritis, back problems, etc) was the first reason people apply and mental illness was the second. I would estimate that over 60% of my cases had some form of mental illness alleged.
  3. In 2009, suicide is listed as the 10th leading cause of death. These are numbers from five years ago. If history indicates anything, this rate is increasing, not decreasing. This also does not take into account any suicide deaths that are not reported as suicide or that are reported as ‘inconclusive.’
  4. In 2012, 9.6 million adults were diagnosed with ‘serious mental illness.’ That is a little over four percent of the total population. Serious mental illness does not mean that a person occasionally ‘get the blues’ or feel sad. This means that out of every 100 people, at least four of them has a diagnosed mental illness, listed in the DSM, lasting a sufficient amount of time to be diagnosed, and affecting their lives in one or more significant ways.
  5. Mental health is simply ignored. At any given time of the day, you can turn on the TV and see ads for cholesterol lowering medications, high blood pressure medications, etc. However, there would only be a few mental health medication commercials. Yes, they are growing in number but I have sat through several hours of TV and not seen one.

So, why should you care?

Chances are, someone very close to you has some sort of mental illness. You may not even know it. People with mental illness tend to become masters at hiding their illness so that they do not burden the people around them.

We cannot continue to just care about mental illness when a suicide, a school shooting, or other significant event happens. If we continue the path we are on, there will be more school shootings, more suicides, and more mental illness related problems. We must start now educating ourselves on mental illness, including addiction. Our current society has become so complacent and numb about problems that do not directly affect them. In addition to that, our current society has become a “bandwagon” society. By this I mean that if something is hip and cool (even very unhip and uncool topics such as mental illness), they will quickly jump on the bandwagon, advocate for awhile, get bored, and get off the bandwagon at the next exit.  In reality, whether you have mental illness, know someone who does, or you have no experience with it, mental illness affects everyone through hospital costs, disability costs, and lack of education. Know the signs of a mental illness, know sources of information, and know suicide hotline numbers; know them because you never KNOW when you will need them.

Why do you think mental health awareness matters? And what does ‘mental health awareness’ mean to you?

 

 

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