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I feel like a bad person

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I am newly 18 and I found out yesterday in the emergency room that I have oral and genital herpes. I am scared. I have a boyfriend but we broke up for a short period of time around 2 weeks ago and I had sex during that week because I was devastated after our breakup. We broke up because of distance and I made the choice to have 2 random hookups to attempt to get over him and manage my emotions. Then, a week later, we got back together and he said he would make the effort for me and I was so happy. I had sex with him a week ago after we got back together and now I have herpes. I feel so disgusting truthfully. I feel like I made a very bad decision that I can’t take back. Yes, we were broken up but I didn’t need to be having sex to make me feel better. I feel shame from that especially since I never had sex with my current boyfriend before we broke up. I care about him so much and didn’t want to give myself to him until I was ready but I was so quick to throw myself at strangers. I am repulsed by myself and all these memories. I’ve been having a meltdown for the past 24 hours and I can’t stop having panic attacks. And now I have most likely given him herpes. I need support because I feel like a different person. I feel ridden with guilt and all these ugly feelings. My ER experiences was also extremely traumatic. I plan to tell my boyfriend tonight over FaceTime because that’s the only way. I will never be the same again and I have to learn to cope. I already have a very weak immune system so my first outbreak has been indescribably painful. Please help me. Please. I feel like such a horrible person. I fucked up my entire life and I’m only 18. 

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First of all, I’m so sorry this is happening for you. I don’t think there’s a person in this community who would say that being diagnosed wasn’t a traumatic experience. All of us have been there, it’s horrible, there’s so much uncertainty, fear and anger. I’ll share my story because it’s a bit similar to yours. I also acquired GH while on a break with my partner. It was my decision to split up, I wasn’t in a good place and we were fighting over things like finances and whatnot. A few months in a had a fling with someone and shortly after went through all the classic signs and symptoms and then the diagnosis. My partner has been one of my best friends since we met so we still talked when we were spilt up. A few weeks after being diagnosed I told him and he was surprisingly supportive. A little bit of time passed and we got back together and now we’re stronger than ever and we don’t think at all about H. I’m not sure how your boyfriend will react, I hope that he will be understanding even if he needs some time to come around, but it’s important for you to know that your life is far from being over. A friend of mine who also has GH was the person who mentored me and coached me through it, and she said she regrets having spent almost a year feeling sorry for herself because now it has no bearing on her life. I was doubtful at the time but 7 months later, I get it. Take all the time you need to look after yourself, read and educate yourself, and I highly recommend visiting an actual sex clinic where the nurses are well educated with sexual health, it helped me so much. 

I can understand those those feelings of guilt too, shame, guilt and regrets that you acquired this the week you were split up. I was in the same place too, but Youre a young 18 year old though and you have every right to have sex and enjoy your body and have those experiences! It’s sad that there is so much shame around sex in our culture, but that’s where all of this negativity and dread about H comes from! 

I think when your initial outbreak ends you will feel a lot better. I know you have the added stress right now of dealing with letting your boyfriend know, but it will get worked out and it will be ok. Most people are not well educated about STDs and don’t know that herpes is just one of those things that can be there and someone doesn’t know they have it. Hell, I’m in my 30s and working on my third degree now and I didn’t know this! So please, try not to be so hard on yourself. We’re human. Also, a lot of people have this, I was shocked after I opened up to some of my friends to learn that lots of women have it! They say it’s something like 1 in 4 women! Anyways, if you need to chat please feel free to message me. I also recommended watching the episode of Adam Ruins Everything about sex (I think it’s season 3 episode 10?) The friend who coached me in the initial month told me to watch it and it took me a while to come around to it and boy was I glad I watched it! Check it out and don’t hesitate to reach out to me or to this community. 

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