Tag Archives: hsv

Article: What It’s Like To Tell Guys That You Have Herpes

Inspiring doesn’t even start to describe how I felt when I read this beautiful blog/article on Women’s Health Mag online.  Written by a beautiful young college student by the name of Ella Dawson, it tells of her experience of living FEARLESSLY with Herpes.

Starting with her diagnosis where she quickly that despite feeling very alone, she was FAR from being the only person with Herpes

When I looked up the statistics on how common herpes is, the math didn’t add up: If one in six people had genital herpes, how was I the only person I knew to do the ultimate walk of shame from the student health center clutching a stack of STD pamphlets? Further Google searches opened my eyes to the powerful and invisible stigma associated with sexually transmitted diseases.

To her resolve to push herself to be ok with saying “I have Herpes”

I was sick of making myself small because I had herpes. Six months after my first outbreak, I started dropping the “herpes bomb” into conversations casually. My logic was that every time I told someone, “I have herpes,” the words would get easier to say.

To her favorite disclosure

My favorite disclosure happened when a guy made a herpes joke while chatting me up at a party. He offered me the rest of his expensive beer and said with a wink, “Don’t worry, I don’t have herpes or anything.” I had a choice to make. I could laugh his comment off and pretend it didn’t hurt, but that would mean laughing at myself. Or I could steer into the skid and stop being so afraid of what people thought.

“That’s funny,” I said, with as warm a smile as I could manage. “Yeah, that’s really funny. Because I have genital herpes.” His face crumbled. Not because I grossed him out—I could practically see the wheels turning in his brain as he realized he’d made an ignorant joke at someone else’s expense. The guy started apologizing profusely.

Isn't she a cute as a button? But in reality this girl is one Bad-Assed Chick!
Isn’t she a cute as a button? But in reality this girl is one Bad-Assed Chick!

Ella has hit the nail on the head about why there is so much stigma surrounding having Herpes and why we need to learn that when someone makes a joke about Herpes, it’s not personal (see my blog about Herpes Jokes for my POV on how to handle them)

The thing is, this stranger wasn’t intentionally making fun of me. He wasn’t making fun of anyone because most of us don’t associate herpes with actual people. …….. I had seen in the flesh what a simple “I have herpes” could do when said fearlessly, without shame. Because when a real person—a woman you know and respect—casually mentions having herpes, it stops being a punch line and starts being someone’s reality. The more I saw that understanding dawn on someone’s face, the less fear I felt. I wanted herpes to have a human face, and I wanted it to be mine.

I think I cried a little when I read that, because I work every day with young women (AND men!) who have bought into the Herpes Stigma and who have gone from confident, radiant souls to someone who now believes they have to “settle” for anyone who will love them … and that is soooo far from the truth…

Ella’s last statement echos my own experience with being out and confident with my H+ status

Every time I tell someone that I have genital herpes, I run the risk of it being the only thing they remember about me. But when I tell them on my terms, with confidence and cleverness instead of shaking hands and shame, I am immediately positioned to get a better response.

And finally, I couldn’t have put it better…

When you disclose having herpes, generally whomever you’re disclosing to follows your lead…….

Amen sister! Please, read this blog … it may well change how you look at Herpes – whether you have it, or you know someone who has it ..

http://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-relationships/dating-with-herpes

Peace Out!

 

Dating Online: My Personal Experience With Being Out and Proud

Just over a year ago, I hit a wall and an epiphany at the same time. Previously, like most people with herpes, I had approached herpes with the alternating depression that I would have to disclose and the fear of being rejected. After 35 years with the virus though, I had finally figured out a few things:

  • That rejection was not about me.
  • That most people are woefully ignorant not only about herpes, but STD facts in general so their reaction told me a lot about who THEY were and whether I really wanted them in my life anyway.
  • That I wasn’t ashamed of having herpes.
  • That I no longer wanted to hide in a closet of shame and fear.
  • That I wanted to just be my fully authentic self.
  • That I was tired of the stigma.

Continue reading Dating Online: My Personal Experience With Being Out and Proud

Triggers As Learning Tools For Life

As part of my work as an advocate for the Herpes community, I spend a lot of time on the Herpes Opportunity Forums. Our work there is to help the “H+” population and their loved ones to get reliable, accurate information about living with the virus, and to feel supported and less isolated in their journey.

Much of the talk is about what are known as “Triggers” … those things in life that cause or contribute to an outbreak. These things vary largely from one person to another, and even in each person some things that trigger an outbreak now will not bother them in the future.  Normal triggers are stress (the biggest trigger of them all), chocolate, nuts, foods that are high in Arginine, sex (especially in those who are going through their first few months post exposure), and sunshine (mostly in those with HSV1 oral). But lately there has been a number of new “triggers” that have become evident on the boards…..and they are Continue reading Triggers As Learning Tools For Life

Herpes Jokes: Getting the Last Laugh

Q: What’s the difference between love and herpes? A: Herpes lasts forever.

I often see people on the Herpes Life Forums who are hurt or frustrated when they hear someone telling a Herpes joke.

NEWS ALERT!

EVERYTHING has been the butt of a joke at some time or other… every conceivable race, emotion, situation, disease, etc known to man is fair game. Blondes. Fat people. Pollacks. The President. Kids. You name it, there’s a joke (or several hundred) for it. So why is it all of a sudden it’s not OK to joke about Herpes once we are diagnosed? I’ll bet you either have told or laughed at a Herpes joke at some point in the past. Yeah – some are uglier than others… but same goes for everything else that’s joked about. IT’S NOT PERSONAL!  You only noticed it because you have Herpes – and there will be jokes out there that you don’t think twice about that bother someone else. So what is the difference between a Herpes joke and the following ?(Graphic alert! I picked these specifically because of the nature of the joke and this blog) Continue reading Herpes Jokes: Getting the Last Laugh

Easy, Simple Self Help Tips For Relief From Herpes OutBreaks

The following are some of the tips I give out every day on the Herpes Life Forums to people who are suffering from the symptoms of Herpes. Everything suggested has been shown to help at least *some* of the readers …. what works for one may not work for another.  I’ll add more as I learn of new things that seem to get good feedback for results, so check back occasionally to see if there’s anything new. Click on the highlighted words to find more info or to buy the product 🙂 Continue reading Easy, Simple Self Help Tips For Relief From Herpes OutBreaks

Finding Your Authentic Self With Herpes

Sometimes the things we cannot change, end up changing us

Awhile back, one of the members of the Herpes Life Forum wrote this beautiful passage:

At one point or another, we are forced to confront our authentic selves. For a while we can try on different masks, goof around, fake it. We dabble in this and that, float here and there, even if it doesn’t agree with what’s in our soul. Eventually, though, something happens that snaps us awake, tells us to stop fucking around, and brings us back down. Makes us honestly question ourselves.

No more do I have the luxury of sleeping with whoever finds me attractive. My sexuality is no longer a curtain that I can hide behind, no longer a “fall back” for feeling insecure (or worse, bored). I have been forced to face myself- the raw, ugly, vulnerable part of myself. I have had to find value in the parts that I kept hidden, to become aware of things I did not want to become aware of.   Continue reading Finding Your Authentic Self With Herpes

Hopelessness: Turning Adversity Into Opportunity

“I encourage you to accept that you may not be able to see a path right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.” 
― Nick VujicicLife Without Limits

One of my greatest sources of inspiration is Nick Vujcic – a beautiful soul who was born without arms or legs. This young man has taken something  that he could have (and did, for many years) seen as something that could make him unlovable and a non-productive member of society, and turned it into a message of inspiration and hope.

I often have people who are coping with a new Herpes diagnosis say: “But it’s not FAIR! I don’t sleep around. All my friends are having one night stands and they didn’t get it! WHY ME???” They can only see the negative. They buy into the stigma,  convinced that they are suddenly dirty, unlovable, a slut, a leper. They can’t see that this virus is, by comparison to what *could* happen to us in life, a pretty minor inconvenience. They become hopeless almost overnight, convinced that their life is over and that they are destined to be single, sullied, and unable to be “like everyone else” ever again. Continue reading Hopelessness: Turning Adversity Into Opportunity

Rejection: It’s All About Perspective

Most fears of rejection rest on the desire for approval from other people. Don’t base your self-esteem on their opinions.  Harvey Mackay

One of the main fears that seems to surface with the people I coach after Herpes diagnosis is the dreaded disclosure talk and the corresponding fear of rejection. Suddenly any other reason that might cause a potential partner to reject them goes out the window and the whole focus of their being goes into the mis-guided belief that Herpes makes them dirty, unlovable, tainted, or whatever, and that NO ONE will ever want to love them.  I can tell you from coaching many people and seeing them grow and face their fears that it’s just not true. We have several  Success Stories on the Herpes Life Forum every week … and interestingly, far, far fewer Rejections! I have yet to ever come across any proof that Herpes will keep you from finding love. Yes, it may add one extra speed bump to the process, but my observations have been that many people feel that when they DO find love with H, it’s deeper, more fulfilling, and better than any love they have ever experienced…but that’s a whole ‘nuther blog! Continue reading Rejection: It’s All About Perspective

Driving Yourself Crazy: A Reality Check About Sex and STD’s

To walk across the street is a risk.     Mikhail Baryshnikov

So often I see people beating themselves up for acquiring Herpes. The majority of the time, they were just plain blissfully ignorant about the risks, about the fact that we are not automatically tested for H in the STD panel, or they just plain got caught up in the moment … (Damn Hormomones!!!).  Many get HSV1 from oral sex because they didn’t know that cold sores could head South (and their “giver” often didn’t know either and/or didn’t know they had the virus because they got it as a child). Others are told by their partner that they are safe as long as they are not having an outbreak,  because that is what their Doctor told them. The vast majority of Herpes transmissions are a result of inaccurate information combined with the fact that 80% of the population has no idea they have H. Then, once they get Herpes, they obsess (understandably) about passing it on. Even when you point out that with anti-virals and condoms, the risk falls to about 1-5% (depending on your gender), they are deathly scared about getting in a relationship and passing the virus on to their new partner. So they vow to either become celibate (also perhaps to punish themselves for being so “stupid”), or to only date someone who has H. The problem is, they have forgotten that if you are living life, you are ALWAYS living with risk. The secret here is that once you are educated, you have the power to reduce that risk to an “acceptable” level. Ignorance, as we H+ folks know all too well, is the cause of the vast majority of new cases of Herpes. The following is something that I tell people all the time who are obsessing on the risk factors of passing Herpes on, or who are beating themselves up for having acquired H. Continue reading Driving Yourself Crazy: A Reality Check About Sex and STD’s

Blame: The Millstone Around Your Neck

Blame: A way to discharge pain and discomfort

Brene Brown … from http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame

Often when someone is first diagnosed with Herpes, the first thing they want to know who gave it to them. Sometimes it’s easy to figure out, other times it’s more complicated because the virus is a slippery little devil and may have been lying dormant for some time (and through multiple partners) before it rears its blistery little head. It’s a normal reaction … we humans always want to know if we can make some meaning about how it happened: Did the person know they had H? If now, why not? Did they give it to them on purpose? How long have they had it? How on earth did they not know they had it… Etc. Continue reading Blame: The Millstone Around Your Neck