Friday, September 5, 2014


I have been thinking about writing this post for the past couple of weeks and I have wondered time and time again where to begin. Many (most) of you know that for the past three years, I have struggled with crippling chronic migraines. You know that since being diagnosed with chronic migraines, my family and I have tried everything that was within our power to get me well and despite our best efforts, my health continued to decline. In the past three years I have been to two neurologists, an infectious disease specialist, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a foot-zone specialist; I have had a lumbar puncture, at least six MRI's, several blood tests and blood panels done, several excruciatingly painful sessions of nerve-blocking shots, had Botox, tried literally every migraine pill on the market and even some medications discovered through medical studies that weren't used to treat migraines, just to see if they would make a difference. To the astonishment of my current neurologist, none of these solutions worked. Under his care, I have recently felt like a completely mute guinea pig. It felt like he kept throwing out random medications just to appease me. It felt like he wasn't hearing me and I was beginning to think that he didn't believe or care anymore how much pain I was in. I was beginning to lose hope. After my latest neurology appointment and not surprisingly getting anywhere, my mum and I decided that it was finally time to go search for answers elsewhere. So armed with three years of medical records and research, we did just that. And that was when my life began to change.

My new doctor, funnily enough, is at a regular, old family clinic that just opened up just around the corner from my mum's work. She had a particularly good experience with him when she, herself, was sick and then again with my baby sister. Overcome with pain and exhaustion, and with a highly cynical attitude, I accompanied my mum to my first appointment.  I was surprised to experience actually being listened to by my doctor. He was overcome with concern and was outraged that I had been through so much and been treated so poorly and carelessly by my other doctors. From that moment he sprang into action and within just two appointments, that's right, two appointments, my family and I got the answers that we'd been searching for for three years.

I have been officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (this has been a big contributor to my severe migraines), Hypothyroidism, a heterozygous, genetic mutation that makes it impossible for my body to absorb vitamin B, and a couple of severe vitamin deficiencies. Needless to say that when I received this news, I became instantly overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that there were so many things that were making me sick. Overwhelmed that three of these sickness have no cure and I will have to deal with the rest of my life. And overwhelmed that my mother and I had suggested two of these diseases to my neurologist last year and just barely a few months ago and he dismissed them because they weren't strictly neurological. He even went so far as to call the heterozygous, genetic mutation fake and hyped up; that the doctor whose specialty this mutation is, was trying to take advantage of gullible people.

But do you know what's great in spite of all of these intimidating and overwhelming things I've been diagnosed with? Now I have answers. Now I know that this pain I've been feeling for almost three solid years is not in my head. Now, I can begin to take the first steps on the road to recovery and the first steps to managing my diseases.

This is only the beginning to what I am sure will be an excellent uphill climb towards better times and happier things. For the first time in three years, I can breathe easy knowing that I am finally learning how to take care of myself in the right way. And I no longer have to be afraid of the future. I can now go into it with open arms, armed with new and priceless knowledge to be the best version of myself I can be.

Last week I didn't have a migraine for  five straight days. That is an incredible something that has not happened since before I was diagnosed with chronic migraines three years ago. Things are looking up!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

When Life Ceases To Make Sense

When life ceases to make sense, what is it that you do with yourself? How do you cope? How do you continue to survive when everything you ever imagined or wanted for yourself has turned upside down and inside out? The answer? I wish I knew.

It is a curious sensation to try and re-imagine,reinvent, and create new dreams for yourself after such an event and epiphany occurs. Everything is so confused and bizarre anyway that you can't make heads or tails of it. You don't know or have any clue about how you're going to do this, you just know that it has to be done, no matter what. It eats away at you like a perverse, ticking time bomb until you finally make one step towards reinvention.

Eventually, slowly, very slowly, you start to make some headway. So, you're not getting married in the temple to the love of your life? FABULOUS! Work on receiving your endowments instead. You don't need a man to receive some of the blessings of the temple. You're not able to use your education degree in the traditional way because of a chronic illness? FANTASTIC. Tutor or teach private lessons! You can still make an impact and change a child's life working with them one on one. Men keep using you like a laboratory-trapped guinea pig over and over again? PHENOMENAL! Forget the dirt-bags, work and focus on yourself, became Lady Gaga fabulous, and make them rue the day that they dragged you through the dirt and let you go.

I haven't got everything figured out yet, and I don't know if I ever will. But the point is that I'm trying, despite the horrifically sh***y hand that I've been dealt.  I won't give up yet, though. It's not my time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Book of Love

                True love. What does that mean? To you? To your family and friends? To the world? To be quite honest, I truly think and believe that it means something different to every individual who is lucky enough to encounter it. I also think that if you’re very blessed and fortunate, you can experience it more than once. The idea of soul-mates is a lovely one, but not something I really believe in. I know (from experience), that there are at least a handful of “right” people out there that you could build your life with. Each experience would be different, but you would be just as happy with one as you would with one of the others. And if by some chance, your relationship with one of these people doesn't work out, if it crashes and burns, does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, that it wasn't true and right and wonderful and what you were supposed to be doing at that point in time. We need to remember that each person has their free agency; that that particular fact is what makes true love so beautiful in the first place.

                Roughly three months ago, at the beginning of March, I met a man I was supposed to marry. We were happy and blessed, and in complete awe that we had found each other under such strange circumstances. Despite the challenges we faced and the opposition we received, especially from our family, we made it through because we knew what we were doing was the right thing; that we would continue to be blessed for our faithfulness. We loved each other and we were excited to get married and start our new lives with one another. We threw ourselves into frenzied wedding preparations; I bought my wedding gown and made arrangements for alterations and called the temple and scheduled our sealing, he made a budget, paid bills, and started looking at options for our honeymoon and for our apartment. We shared our dreams, hopes, and fears with one another and kept moving forward towards August.

                But, just a mere two days after he met my entire family at Easter dinner, he came to my door ashen faced and told me that it was over. Midst the shock, pain, and disbelief, I felt anger, sadness, and disappointment. I was hurt. I was frustrated. And more than anything I wanted to shake him until his teeth rattled; until I could knock some sense into him and rid him of the lies and deceit that Satan had filled him with through friends and family. I knew deep in my heart and soul that we were supposed to get married; that we were right for each other. I couldn't believe that he had let his thoughts get so warped that he would forget not only the answers that he got, but the answers I got, and the ones that we got together. I couldn't believe that he had forgotten the significance and importance of all the blessings we had received since making the decision to get married.

                It wasn't until weeks later that I realized that his decisions and actions didn't change the fact that our marriage was right. His actions didn't suddenly nullify our answers and make our decisions together meaningless, our time together worthless. If we had gotten married, it still would have been the right thing to do and we would have been happy, of that I am certain. He had his agency. And I had mine. I guess what I’m trying to say is, is that this man was just one of my right options that Heavenly Father has in store for me. Just because it didn't work out with this particular man, doesn't mean that it won’t work with another of Heavenly Father’s choices.

                Love is multi-faceted. Each experience that each person in the world has is different. No two love stories are alike. These facts are what make love so beautiful, individual, and incredible. As a daughter or son of God, we have endless potential and because of that, our lives have endless possibilities just waiting for us to reach out and take them.

                 Just because this version of a Happily Ever After didn't work for me, doesn't mean that I won’t still get one. I am not bitter because of my broken engagement and cancelled wedding, on the contrary, I am grateful and hopeful. I am grateful and hopeful because I got to experience true love and when it comes along next time, I will be able to recognize it and appreciate it and value it that much more a second time around. I know that it is possible. It is not a dream. It’s real and it’s out there.

                I beg of you to be open to all of the possibilities that life has to offer you, most especially when it comes to love and making decisions that will affect the rest of your life. Even if the possibility seems so incredible and ridiculous, such as encountering someone you haven’t been with in a couple of years, reach out and take it. You take that possibility and you run with it, knowing that God will have your back the entire way; having faith that you can love again because you did it once before.

There is more behind what happened between he and I on that day, and there are other reasons he had for doing what he did, but I felt that it was only necessary to share enough information to give you an idea of what happened. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A "Thank You" Letter to Demi Lovato

Dear Demi,

I know that's a long shot that you'll get this, but I just wanted to thank you.

Last year I worked in an inner-city school in Phoenix. I taught 8th grade English.Most of the kids came from low socioeconomic backgrounds, single-parent families, we had lots of kids in foster care, we had two group homes within our boundaries; many children were depressed with suicidal tendencies and many of them had come from an abusive home or situation and a fair few had family members that were in gangs. More often than not, I was the only adult in their life who cared whether they lived or died.

I was more than a little overwhelmed when I started teaching, but then I realized what a difference I had the potential to make, largely due to the fact that they were exactly where I was when I was their age. More than anything, more than teaching them English, I wanted to inspire them. I wanted to get them to believe in themselves, get them to understand that they didn't have to listen to the people who told them "NO" or "You're not good enough."; that they had the right and power to do whatever they wanted, that they were capable of anything they set their minds to. Your music, your story of overcoming your eating disorder and your addictions, was/is such an inspiration to them. Being able to listen to your music during their school day in my classroom was their little ray of hope and sunshine that got them through the day.

I have since had to quit and move away from Arizona due to some serious health problems, but I just wanted to tell you this: A large number of my old students just recently went to one of your concerts and they were inspired and awe-struck. You made them feel special and even if just for a little moment, they believed in themselves because of you.

SO, what I really just wanted to say was "thank you". Thank you for taking care of "my kids" and inspiring them and believing in them when I don't have the ability to help them anymore. Thank you.

Sincerely and with greatest thanks,

Stephanie Ann McMurtrey

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year, A Fresh Start

Earlier this year when I was really struggling with my eating disorder and severe depression, I hit a very low point, albeit a unique one for someone who struggles with anorexia and depression. After an encounter with a very dear friend via skype who mentioned in passing that it looked like I had lost a lot of weight, I stared at myself in the mirror and was shocked at what I saw after really looking at myself. I had circles so dark underneath my eyes that it looked like someone had punched me in the face, my cheekbones jutted out, my clothes hung loose on me, and for once, I was afraid of what I was doing to myself and how it was affecting me. I called my mother and I cried; asking her over and over again. “What do I do?”

Shortly after this confession, I moved home due to some other serious health concerns and I started the long, hard road to recovery, self acceptance, and ultimately, forgiveness. This has not been an easy road for me to traverse; stuck at home and unable to drive or work due to crippling chronic migraines, I have struggled to find my purpose because it seemed as though everything I was and everything I had worked for was being ripped out from underneath me. I was clinging as if my life depended on it to the things that were no longer relevant to my journey and it was slowly killing me; mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. God had a beautiful, new plan for me, but I was shamefully ignoring Him and almost cursing Him as I tried by myself to heal my broken heart from the Hell I had been through and was still going through. And then through sheer divine intervention, the courage to act, and the desire to change, one day, I looked up and extended my hand to Him and slowly began to trust again.

 Much has changed since I moved home and most of it for the best. I am slowly, but surely learning to love myself for who I am; for how God made me. I am His daughter and God does not make mistakes. More often than not, I have never really understood why God wanted me to do something, but I did it anyway, knowing that He knows best and sees the whole picture of my life when I can only see what’s in front of me. Since I moved home, since following His plan for me, I have been blessed beyond my imaginings. Things are still extremely difficult, but my blessings make it easier to deal. God has given me beautiful, compassionate friends who have cradled and held me in my darkest moments and celebrated with me my small triumphs (like being able to take a walk or finally being able to eat three meals a day) and God has given me some of my strength back so that I am able to do a little more each day and even nanny once or twice a week. He has given me so much, and even though it’s been hard, and even though I've wanted to give up multiple times, He gives me the strength to keep on going.

No matter what, God and Christ always know what’s best for us. Even when we struggle, rage, scream, and beat against their guidance, they patiently wait beside us, holding our hearts and hands until we are quiet enough to hear Them.

Take what you've learned and been through this past year, the good and the bad, and go forward with faith. Move forward with love in your heart and the hope and excitement of good things to come. God loves you.

Happy New Year!