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This forum and community has helped me so much, still have a long way to go


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Hi all! Let me start by saying that these forums are the only thing making me feel like maybe having herpes is manageable, so thank you all for that:)


I'm a 21 year old white female and I have hsv 2. I know this because I asked my gynecologist to test me for absolutely everything as its been a pretty crazy six months.


I lost my virginity last June with a guy I wasn't dating, but who I am friends with. Up until recently I wasn't very social, I had a few work friends but mainly didn't go out much. In May I got a new job and kind of inherited the social life that came with it. I was experiencing so many things for the first time, went to my first live concert, stayed out all night for the first time, had my first lemon drop ect. And all of this was good, at least it started that way. Having sex for the first time I've described as "fun". It was painful and it wasn't as great of a feeling as I could give myself but it was a genuinely fun and a positive experience. I felt comfortable and safe and like it was something I really wanted to do, I wasn't drunk, I wasn't at some frat party, I was good.


That being said I feel like the good things in my life I start to abuse. I started going on dating sites like OK cupid and pof to find other partners, which wasn't a big deal at first. I have a history of severe depression interrupted by periods of extreme bliss (I have been seeing a psychiatrist since I was fifteen and have done the mood stabilizer cocktail but am now only on antidepressants as I have gotten much better and less severe mood swings and not had thoughts of suicide in quite some time).


So I would go through phases of having lots of casual sex, which again isn't a bad thing, but I was doing it even if I didn't like the person, or even if I knew the person didn't care about me. I guess I have a self destructive streak. I also wasn't being safe about it. I know it sounds naive and so foolish but a couple guys did get me by saying they were "allergic" to condoms. Also one guy I hooked up with told me he really liked me and wanted me exclusively along with how special and unique I was (ugh it seems so obvious now that I'm writing it out) he then proceeded to take me to a motel, that I paid for, fucked me about three or four times, and then went out to his car to get something and left me there. Like didn't come back at all. And I thought he was genuine and let him have sex with me without a condom.


Sorry I didn't mean to write out a short novel here. What I'm getting at is that my first experience with sex was great and positive and it became this thing I abused and wasn't careful with. Fast forward to September and I made an appointment with my gynecologist because I knew I hadn't been as careful as I could have. I'm on birth control so condoms were always a second thought (also nobody tells you in health class that not wearing a condom can also feel more pleasurable for the girl- not saying you shouldn't use them but it would have been nice had some a acknowledged that). I had sex with about maybe 11 different partners at that point, most of them being one night stands. So I was tested and everything came back negative, all urine tests and vaginal swabs and then the blood tests... except for one thing, hsv 2 had a number next to it on my chart which said I had it.


This was devastating, and the first three days after I found out were the worst. I don't need to tell you guys what that initial reaction is like. And I'm not saying it's all my fault but I should have been more careful. One of the symptoms of mania is engaging in risky sexual behavior and I think that mixed with the fact that sex was so new and exciting to me, I went too hard too fast. I thought I had ruined my life, ruined myself for anybody that might actually want me. After that I took a break for a month or so and then I met someone.


He was great, he took me on my first real date, the kind where you have the door held open for you and you go to dinner and he walked me to my car and kissed me Goodnight. I didn't even know that was my first date until after it happened. We went on more dates, I'd even stay the night sometimes and we'd kiss and cuddle but he always insisted we wait because I had told him about some of the previous experiences I had with guys and he wanted me to know that I was worth the wait to him. When we did eventually end up having sex, I disclosed to him before we started getting into it. It was the scariest thing I've ever done, everything that came out of my mouth was so rehearsed sounding and robotic. I could barely say it but I made myself. He told me he was sorry that happened to me and then we had sex. I was scared he didn't know the risks he was taking, although they weren't too bad. I've never had an outbreak in my life, I am on the antiviral medication and also we used a condom.


Anyway things didn't work out with him (long story, basically I don't think he thought I was good enough, but he made up excuses) and I just lost my job as a portrait photographer because our studio was shut down. I've been going through a hard time lately, having so much time on my hands isn't good for me. I've fallen back into that pattern of casual sex and as much as it shames me to admit, I haven't told everyone I've been intimate with casually about the herpes. Especially if they don't even bother asking which I'm not proud of. I'd say I've had sex with about six or seven more people and told about 5 of them. With mixed results, one guy I had been talking to but not hooking up with yet just stopped talking to me all together. A few of them have said they felt uncomfortable but they still wanted me to give them head (I hate people sometimes) anyway I just wanted to share my story. I didn't know if anyone else felt this way about sex, I really love and enjoy it but it's so hard to stop before I'm having risky meaningless sex with someone who can't remember my name.


I almost agree when I hear people say herpes can be a blessing because it did make me stop and think and pursue something real. But I'm feeling so down again and I keep looking for happiness in fleeting physical encounters and it's scary. It's not even about the physical. I miss having someone to be close with in that way. I'm surrounded by people and so lonely still. Thank all of you for making this a safe place for me, I think just writing it out helps a lot.

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Also I've been wishing lately I had never gotten tested in the first place. Haven't had the symptoms or an outbreak it seems like my life would be so much less complicated had I not been so insistent on getting tested so thoroughly. I could be having casual sex still and not be disclosing and not feeling guilty because I wouldn't even know I had it. I know this is pretty pointless to think about because I did ask and I do know now, I just keep obsessing over what if. My gynecologist did put me on suppressive medication which might be the reason im.remaining outbreak free so I guess that's something to be thankful for.

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@Tyedye99 I'm so glad you're here and sharing your experience.


I'd like to share some thoughts on a few of the things you mentioned in your posts.


First, please be aware that condoms only partially protect from HSV. I mention this in case you are beating yourself up about those unprotected encounters. Yes, it is always safer to use condoms, but sex carries risk regardless. I hope you can be gentle with yourself about your past choices and just focus on taking healthier steps in the future.


Also, regarding your regret about testing, I can totally relate to this and struggled with this as well. Like you, I did not experience a noticeable outbreak that alerted me to my infection, it was my choice to get thoroughly tested. Like you, I later questioned that choice. I'll be honest in saying I still have those thoughts occasionally, but less and less over time.


I think most people react strongly when diagnosed with HSV. Many start a grieving process at that time, and a natural part of the grieving process is anger. For those who know who infected them, often anger is directed at that person. When the source is unknown, the anger needs to go somewhere else, I think. For me, the anger was mostly directed at myself for choosing to test because, in the absence of physical symptoms, it *felt* like the true problem was *knowing* about it. I also had some anger toward my doctor for not setting my expectations when I tested, and I was angry at society in general for perpetuating the stigma. All of this anger stemmed from fear that I would be limited in my sex life and relationships as a result of this diagnosis. Over time, as I have experienced much acceptance, anger about my personal situation has subsided, though I still have strong feelings about the stigma, and of course compassion for those who are struggling with it.


In addition to (1) time passing, and (2) experiencing acceptance from a majority of partners, I've found there are specific actions that have helped me feel better about the choice I made to get tested...


First, like you, I take antivirals and regularly use condoms. Like you, I much prefer the feeling of not using a condom, but I'm protecting myself as much as I am protecting partners. I have always operated this way, using condoms outside of monogamy. I would even say a silver lining of this diagnosis has been less arguing about condom use with casual partners who want to rely on recent test results instead of condoms (it still happens occasionally but much less often). I will admit, I did mess up one time since diagnosis in the heat of the moment, but some people learn better by making mistakes, so maybe that's me. Anyway, I do my best to be disciplined about it in my casual relationships.


Also, I disclose to prospective partners. Yes, it's a bummer to have to interrupt the flow of new romance with this conversation, and occasionally it will result in rejection, but there are benefits as well. Just like using and condoms and antivirals, it is a positive action I can take as a result of testing and knowing my status. The minority of partners who self-select out are doing us both a favor. I truly believe this. It's just a compatibility issue like any other that we're getting out of the way early. Another benefit of this is that you can experience how a prospective partner deals with this type of information and human interaction. Regardless of whether they are still interested in being physical, how they treat you in response to your disclosure will tell you something about them. You mentioned wanting intimacy and I think you will find that these conversations frequently lead to greater emotional intimacy. At least that has been my experience. I would say half the partners I've disclosed to have responded by sharing something vulnerable about themselves. It's pretty cool how that can happen.


Finally, I reach out to others who are experiencing the same roller coaster of emotions upon diagnosis, and I open up to friends about my HSV status and educate them when natural opportunities arise. Had I not chosen to get tested, I would not have the power to do these things.


Hang in there and feel free to PM me if you need support. (((HUGS)))



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@Tyedye99 I can relate to some of what you've said. I enjoyed casual sex at a young age--it was new and pleasurable and I was curious! Sometimes I get mad at myself for it now, because it was one of those casual encounters (all of which included condom use) that gave me herpes. I have to remind myself that I just didn't know condom use wouldn't completely prevent me from getting herpes. And I'm trying to accept that the only thing I can do about my past is to learn from it and move forward.


In one of Adrial's recent e-mails, his video talks about how our reactions and feelings are never really about herpes. It's just that herpes brings all of our shit to the surface. When I divorced two years ago from a highly critical man, and then a year later when I found out I have herpes, I subsequently realized I had been seeking a lot of validation from other people throughout my life. Nearly all of my self worth came from the attention I received from others. I'm now learning to love myself enough to put myself first, set boundaries, speak up for myself, and really believe I'm worthy of love in spite of my imperfections.


In fact, I once asked my therapist how to avoid getting involved with men like my ex in the future. She said, "Really notice how they react when they find out you're not perfect."


I can also relate to being surrrounded by people and still feeling lonely. Herpes can be so isolating! And so often we're not willing to really be with that loneliness and instead move immediately to another relationship. If there's one thing my marriage taught me, it's that being alone is far, far better than being with someone who doesn't truly love and accept me. I felt like shit about myself being married to him, and I am never going back to that place.


When I find myself wishing I had never gotten tested, I think of three things: 1) Having herpes makes me 5 times more likely to acquire HIV. That alone makes it worth knowing so I can protect myself. 2) I'm going to be able to weed out men who can't handle my imperfections pretty early. And 3) Without herpes, I would not be learning to really love myself. This makes me pretty excited for the next forty-something years off my life.

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High risk HIV populations? Could you elaborate a little? I actually didn't know about that, so it's freaking me out a little. Thank you optimist, it means a lot to hear that you've been there too with the regretting getting tested. I seem to flip flop back and forth between being okay and thinking it's almost a blessing in disguise and being open with it to people, to being almost in denial. Thinking "wow I have such a low risk of giving this to anyone else, and don't feel any symptoms, it's almost lIke I don't really have it." And those thoughts make me feel like maybe this whole thing was some kind of bad mistake and everything is okay. Im 21, I've been sexually active for 6 months. I can't handle the fact that for the rest of my life, I will have this. It's almost too much for me to bear. And I KNOW it's not a death sentence, but it feels like it is to my sex life. I feel vulnerable and ruined and like I fucked up my future with my reckless behavior. When I wrote my original post i.was in one of those good positive accepting places and right now I'm not. I don't want to have to tell people this, they don't unserstand. When I try to explain how low the risks are and how common it is I sound like I'm trying to sugar coat it and I feel like people think I'm down playing it and don't want to get close to me. I should stop with the casual sex, it makes me feel awful but also I get this crazy sense of validation. I feel wanted and desired and I know that's pathetic. Typical girl with low self esteem jumping into bed with anyone that shows her any sliver of sweetness. And the worst part is that I have a very loving familyou, I'm so close to my siblings and my parents and I know what it's like to be treated well and loved. If they knew the things I've been doing, the danger I've been putting myself into (meeting people off craigslist for sex) they would be so sad for me. Yet I keep doing it. I crave something more than just meaningless sex but I feel like maybe that's just wishful thinking. I can't believe I'm writing this to a bunch of strangers because these are things I can barely admit to myself. I'm worried about the consequences of my risky behavior not just health wise but also mentally. I just want to be happy, and to feel something.











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@hippyherpy I'm definitely not an expert, just recalling from memory some stats I read in Terri Warren's book. I went back to the source, and she states "two to five times." She also added this applies to those with HSV2 (not genital HSV1). It's definitely not my intent to spread misinformation. I'm not one to live in a bubble to avoid risks entirely, but acquiring herpes has just made me acutely aware that I can't eliminate risk and sometimes the odds are not in my favor. :-(


@Tyedye99 I highly recommend reading Terri Warren's book (available in the Kindle version on Amazon) for a much better description of how having HSV2 makes one more susceptible to acquiring HIV. In a nutshell, when the HSV2 virus "sheds" from your body (whether you notice it as an outbreak or it's asymptomatic), it creates microscopic tears in your skin. This makes it easier for HIV to enter your body. Also, when the herpes virus is active, your body sends a certain type of immune cell to the genitals to, as Warren puts it, "defend against the herpes outbreak or shedding. Unfortunately, it jut so happens that CD4 T cells are the very ones HIV prefers to infect. .... If HIV is present and you add in the friction of sexual activity to the whole picture, you can see why T cells can be far more easily infected with HIV when you have HSV 2."


Please don't beat yourself up about wanting to feel "wanted and desired." It's not pathetic. We all want that! Do you have access to a counselor? Therapy isn't for everyone, but I found it really helpful to talk to one and I learned a lot about myself.

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Hi @tyedye99. It sounds like you are using your sexual experiences as a hobby. I agree with the ladies above. Find a counselor, be open to actively listening to what they have to say and following their advice. Prepare yourself to hear what may be true about yourself that you might not want to hear. Remember they are there as your guide to self love and self appreciation. Until you achieve these two things, you will not be able to be open to a true love. You will continue to let people use you. It's a first step of many you will have to make in your journey. Sex is fun, but not at the cost of your health. Think long term here. Seize the day. Your wake up call is now. Take advantage and run with it. Develop some hobbies other than sex and you will become a healthier you. Good luck. Grab 2017 by the horns girl, you can do this!

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