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Had my first outbreak, feeling ashamed and guilty

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So, I was diagnosed with HSV2 (having my first OB) a fortnight ago. Since then, I've been having this strange mix of feelings ~shame, guilt and sadness~ which is really bringing me down. It might sound silly, but I'm really afraid people will get away from me if I tell them, specially my significant other...

How have you guys overcame those feelings? Does acceptance really come? How long did it take you to be ok with your diagnosis?


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Hi, @mastermittens, and welcome! Everything you've described is absolutely normal. I think most everyone on this forum either feels like you do now, or has felt that way in the past. Given the absurd stigma surrounding herpes, the fear of rejection is also very normal.


I once read that, on average, most people bounce back to their pre-herpes level of happiness in about six months. I also think that for every person you ask, you'll get a different answer, so there really is no one-size-fits-all answer. I spent the first six months wishing I was dead and feeling unworthy to talk to strangers. Don't follow my example. :-) At the eight month mark, I was just starting to believe I might actually be okay. At a year post-diagnosis, I really started to feel hopeful. Today, I feel happier than I've ever been, and I wouldn't trade a cure for herpes to go back to the person I was 16 months ago.


In my opinion, I think it's really important to spend some time grieving and experiencing the five stages of grief. Might as well just get it out of your system now, or else it's going to rear its ugly head the next time you have a loss of some kind.


I found it really helpful to talk to a counselor. I tried a few friends, but none could really provide any empathy or support. Others have found a lot of support with close friends and family or partners. I was newly divorced when I found out (turns out I had it all the years I was married) and while I chose to tell my ex (he tested negative), I haven't re-entered the dating world since my divorce. Still figuring out me before I add a relationship to my life!


I also found it immensely helpful to get educated about HSV. There are many great resources mentioned in these forums. My favorites are these forums (you'll learn a LOT!) and this site, Terri Warren's book available on Amazon (she has a handbook at this link for some very basic facts: https://www.westoverheights.com/herpes/the-updated-herpes-handbook/) and the Project Accept website. Reading these forums is invaluable to me because I can hear how others have handled challenges and get new perspectives I hadn't considered before.


Now is the time for good self-care! When I was first diagnosed, exercise kept me sane, planning activities I enjoyed gave me something to look forward to, journaling helped me to make sense of my thoughts and emotions, and meditation helped me to relax with uncertainty and be more grounded. I've also been reading lots of books about topics like shame, self-compassion, courage, empathy, etc. You'll find what works for you.

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