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How I got to Happy with herpes :)

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When I was first diagnosed with herpes, it felt like the end of the world. Every day was a struggle. I kept reminding myself, "It's not cancer, nobody is dying." But it has honestly been the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. It was almost 4 months ago that I found out. For about 3 out of these 4 months, I woke up with this dreaded, sinking feeling EVERY morning. I was sad all day and I wondered if I would ever be truly happy again.


I am :)


It took me about 3 months to get back to being happy but those 3 months of allowing myself to be angry, sad, lonely, and anything other emotion were needed. The first week that I found out, I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, and I didn't' want to do anything. I cried SO much. I got mad at myself and others. I felt trapped. And I needed those emotions to be let out. The things that have helped me are this amazing support group, long walks, watching FRIENDS ;) my sister, my therapist, a journal, and all those crying sessions in the shower ;) Time heals all wounds. Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe those two quotes. I know that the second one is hard to understand in this situation but I've learned so much from this experience. I've only grown stronger from it. (What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger :) )


This change in my mood is so sudden. I was still kind of gloomy a few weeks ago, but ever since I got back from my cabin for the 4th, things have been different! My therapist has helped a lot. When this first happened, I hated myself so much. I would just stare at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I hated myself so much and that I was a terrible person. My therapist, Sarah, had me describe good things about myself in one of our sessions. I said that I'm a good friend, I care about people's feelings, and some other stuff. Then she had me tell her what I think makes a good person. So I said someone who is kind, someone who helps others, a good friend, etc. And she pointed out that one of the qualities that I used to describe a good person is also a quality that I used for myself. It was then that she helped me to realize that having H and the way I got it, do NOT make me a bad person. I'm a GOOD person.


Sarah gave me "homework" one time, which was to think of two things that I like about myself each day and then share them with her at our next session. It sounds so dumb, but it really worked. Slowly, it worked! She was so proud of all the things I came up with: I like that my sisters and I are all really close, I'm a good friend, I stick to plans and don't flake when something better comes up, I like my curly hair (I used to straighten it almost everyday in hight school), I'm open minded, I don't judge people's differences, I like my pale skin, and I like my toes. That last one sounds weird, I know, but I have a friend who always complains about her toes and how she hates how stubby they are. I mean, yeah her toes are stubby, but they're toes!! It doesn't matter haha but Sarah thought it was great that I could love something like that about myself.


A HUGE discovery I made in therapy is that I want to have the talk with a guy before I kiss him-so this guy is aware of the fact that I can spread this not only through sex, but from kissing. (I have HSV-1 both orally and genitally). This was really hard for me at first, because I was super bummed about not being able to kiss someone til AFTER the talk. But you know what I realized? This is actually REALLY good for me! I think that having to decide if someone is worth having the talk with or not before kissing them is good. Because then I can decide if they're worth my time and if I truly like the guy. If I were to kiss him before the talk, then I would probably be confused if I really like him or if I am attached from kissing him. I'm bad at writing out my thoughts so hopefully this makes sense! But when I realized this in one of my sessions with Sarah, it was like this huge silver lining! I couldn't believe that this would be a good thing, ever! But it really is.


Another big thing is that I thought that this secret of mine would stay just between my sister, my college friend, and I. But no :) I actually just told a friend the other day! This friend of mine is very open minded and I knew she wouldn't judge me. It was so much easier to talk about than I thought it would be. She was not judgmental. Just asked some questions and told me that she has another friend who has it!! I was shocked! So yeah, it went really well opening up to her and I'm glad I told her!


I feel like I'm forgetting a lot of stuff to say, but I guess to sum it up, I am happy. And it's not the end of the world. I do believe that I will date people in the future, I still might have kids and get married, I'm not a bad person, and things do get better. I'm still nervous about getting another big fat coldsore on my face, but I can't worry about things that might not happen. Thanks for all the support. You guys are amazing! :)

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I love that you are feeling happy, sjj! The way that shame takes deeper hold is when we stay alone. When we tell ourselves stories that we don't deserve to be happy or don't deserve support, we tend to not reach out. To everyone else reading this, however you do it, just reach out. It may seem like a big step right now if you're in the depths of shame, but that's the beginning of the healing journey from shame to happiness. It's like a flower blooming. You can't force it, but if you give it enough sunshine, it will naturally blossom fully. The blossoming happens when someone who accepts you and sees you for who you are beyond a simple skin condition. Whether that's seeking help from a therapist, one-on-one coaching with me, an in-person support group, finding an (h) buddy on this forum, there are many options for support out there. Shame can't exist in the light. It only grows in the shadows of hiding. It's time to stop hiding. You deserve it. You deserve happiness and self-acceptance. :)

Note: This is for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute medical advice or diagnosis.
I'm not a medical professional, so please take this as friendly peer support. 

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sjj238, you never fail to amaze me my dear. I am so touched and inspired by your journey and how much strength you have. You reached out for help and did what you needed to do in order to take care of you. Wow! And look how far you have come in such a short time. I am so very proud of you and I know nothing will hold you back from accomplishing your dreams. You have faced herpes head on and used it to propel yourself even further ahead in your journey. You rock Chicklet. I can hardly wait to see where this new found confidence, healing and growth will take you. You are a true inspiration to anyone who is struggling right now. Look out world! :)


Huge hugs!!


Brenda xo

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sjj, I am so happy for you! You are going places gf! Nothing is going to hold you back! I'm glad your therapist helped you. Your story reminded me of my story of OCD. When I first saw a therapist, she gave me the same homework. You see, when I first started dating a guy who I liked for a year, I was on Cloud 9. One dreadful night, we were both tired and I didn't dress very sexy and he thought I wasn't interested in making out so he ended up falling asleep. I was so AFRAID that he didn't like me anymore that I told myself that I didn't like him either. I woke up the next morning thinking how silly that thought was. When I got to work, I saw him up on a forklift and he looked ugly. Long story short, I was protecting myself. I started to obsess about it and ended up in therapy. Therapy is great! So kudos to you!



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Ahh Sj, all I can say is wow... You really have come a long way in the last 4 months. Good for you, girl.


I am so proud of you - how far you've come, and how you've handled yourself through this. You knew what needed to be done - you knew you needed help to get through and you reached out.


I'm sure your experience has already, and will continue to help many others who are having similar struggles. And that in itself is truly a gift. :)

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