Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
This interview came in as an anonymous submission via the contact form.
The author tells a beautiful story of how an HSV2 diagnosis has helped her reflect upon her past, and how her infection has inspired some necessary, positive and self-empowering introspection.
As I put these interviews together, I find most remarkable the similarities in one another’s perspectives. Although each story is inherently unique and our backgrounds are equally as vast, an STD diagnosis, despite all of its negativity, has a remarkable way of urging us to take a solemn look inward, and, often, inspires us to care for ourselves, sometimes more than ever before.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
Recent university graduate; at the moment I’m a female nomad: volunteering, travelling, and working odd jobs abroad.
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
Genital herpes version 2.0 – HSV2
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
Yes. Partially-protected sex (condom was used, but may have been a little too late) with a partner who swears he didn’t know…
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
Ahh… I’ve been going through a lot of different emotions. It’s brought up a lot of pain from my past that I thought had been healed but had really only been pushed down. It’s slowed me down and gotten me to reflect on a lot of things. I’ve got a lot of work to do to get through the doubt and insecurities it has triggered and brought to light.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
No. I’ve received only loving support from anyone I’ve told, and I have told several close friends and family members.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD/STI? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
I am looking into suppressive therapy for the next couple of months (as outbreaks have been an almost monthly occurrence with a lot of other itching/tingling discomfort in between).
Eventually, when I’m in an environment where I’m able to take really good care of my health (nutritionally as well as mentally/spiritually), I will, hopefully, only need episodic therapy, if that. Ultimately, though, self-love and acceptance will really be my medicine and my ‘cure’.
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
It hasn’t really had the chance to yet, as my diagnosis is fairly new.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
No, and I plan on holding off on having sex with anyone until I can accept and find peace with this situation and become comfortable with myself again.
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
My whole world has been turned upside-down. I’ve been very cautious all of my life to prevent this very thing from happening. I’ve always been the ‘good girl’. I’ve got my priorities straight, and my life on track – goes to show that viruses truly don’t discriminate.
I sometimes feel the shame, doubt, and low self-esteem that the stigma of this infection can bring. But I’m working on those feelings; I’m working on not succumbing to that nonsense. I know that those thoughts and feelings can be changed, and must be – not only for my own benefit, but for the benefit of those I love and everyone I interact with. I’ve got a mountain to climb, but the view from the top will be well worth it.
I think I’ll get to a point, one day, where I’ll be grateful for this little wake-up call, because it is forcing me to deal with things that, otherwise, I, more than likely, would have kept tucked away.
It’s time to stop ignoring the self-defeating beliefs that have been subtly bringing me down all of this time once and for all.
It’s time to change the unconscious mental patterns that, likely, attracted me to this situation in the first place (e.g., always searching for love, validation, and happiness externally, when the love I need and crave has to come first and foremost from within myself).
It’s time to find a way to really learn to love, honor, and forgive myself – accepting the virus, the flaws, all of me.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I am choosing to participate in this interview because reading other people’s stories and gaining their insights and perspectives has been an important part of my own healing process, and I hope my story can be a part of someone else’s.
Through all of this, I’ve realized that life wasn’t perfect before herpes, and won’t be perfect with it, either. But it can still be, and still is beautiful. Maybe even more so now that I (we) have the chance to feel greater humility as well as deeper compassion for and a connection to others.
I have met some truly inspiring, strong, and beautiful people with this infection who I love and admire so much and would never even dream of judging in a negative way. So, it’s time to stop judging myself that way, and it’s time for all of us to stop letting society judge us that way.
Ultimately, the message I would like to get across is that I know we can meet this challenge and overcome it with enough self-love, forgiveness and acceptance.
Can you relate to this interviewee? Did it help you to read someone else’s story? Have you experienced something similar or do you have some feedback to share with this individual? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!