Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
Living with herpes is not easy – heck, contracting or living with any STD/STI is not easy. It’s that simple; it’s tough.
Despite the large portion of positive messages I write on The STI Project, there’s no way around how one feels in the first days, months, or even years after contracting an STD.
As a result, I commend this reader for sending in her interview. It is poignant and it brought me back to the times I felt similarly.
It is through sharing these stories we can begin to feel a community (as the interviewee mentions) and we can begin to heal. I truly believe not feeling alone is the first step toward helping heal our fellow friends with STDs – from there, we can pile on the education and the acceptance. 🙂
But, communication is first and I thank you so very much for sharing your pain so others will know they are not alone.
1. How old are you?
2. What do you do for a living?
I am a children’s librarian.
3. What STD do you have/have you had?
I have genital herpes.
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD?
Almost a year
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD?
I contracted it from someone I have known over half my life. We had a “friends with benefits” relationship…every few years when the two of us happened to be in between relationships, we would get together to hang out and end up having sex.
Each time he would start out wearing a condom, but then slip it off because it wasn’t comfortable. I never worried about it because I had an IUD…all I was concerned about was pregnancy.
Contracting an STD never even crossed my mind.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD?
I don’t know how to put it into words, except maybe to say that the current fabric of my existence seems to be made almost entirely of this.
I cannot un-believe that I am more than my herpes at this point.
It has changed the way I look at and think of just about everything.
I entered the deepest depression I have ever experienced in the 6 months following my diagnosis. For the first time ever, I felt absolutely no hope. I believed (and still have to fight believing) that the people around me would be better off if I was out of their lives.
My life went from “normal” to a nightmare in my head.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
I have voluntarily told my three closest girlfriends.
They have been nothing but supportive.
They seem to have no stigma attached to genital herpes.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
My doctor prescribed acyclovir straight out the gate and I took it twice daily.
I was discouraged at first, because it didn’t seem to be doing any good. I took the acyclovir for 7 months and still had horrible outbreaks every two weeks, so I stopped taking it. A little over a month ago, I started taking the acyclovir again daily, this time supplementing it with L-lysine, selenium, and a multi-vitamin with zinc.
I have been outbreak free since, which is awesome! And I know the supplements are helping in other ways too.
9. Has having an STD hindered past relationships?
This has really affected my progress in dealing with having herpes.
The two guys that I have dated since I have been diagnosed hit the road when I told them. I told them when it was apparent they wanted to have an intimate relationship.
Their reactions have made me feel worse about myself. I feel like no one is ever going to want to be with me; like I’m not worth making that sacrifice for.
I also feel like if a guy is interested in me he will be disgusted by me once he finds out.
I feel like I don’t have the right to flirt with or be interested in a guy without him knowing, because I feel like I’m leading him on under false pretenses.
Again, this has really messed with my head and is definitely preventing me from moving forward in dealing with this.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD affected your partner?
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD whom you did not tell you had an STD?
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD?
I have realized the vitality in using protection.
Having unprotected sex is like playing with a loaded gun.
I can’t believe I didn’t contract something worse, or contract something sooner. As I mentioned above, all I was worried about was pregnancy.
Having herpes has made me more compassionate toward people who are discriminated against for any reason (sexual preference, race, etc).
I have also lost a lot of my hope for a “happily ever after”. Also, my idealism has gone down the tubes. I hope this will change as I continue trying to deal with this in a positive way.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with The STI Project?
I’m participating because I need some form of support group to help deal with this. I live in a somewhat rural area, and resources are limited. I want to read about and communicate with people like me, who are dealing with this and with whom I can identify.
I feel so alone.
I’ve been anorexic and bulimic for about 20 years and remember going to my first support group. Hearing other people share their secrets and fears was like being enveloped in a hug by someone who unconditionally loves you. Finally believing that I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t a disgusting freak gave me hope. And, I am a full believer in the adage that bringing your secrets out into the light kills the poison that surrounds them. I need that with herpes.
I feel like I am a burden, a mistake, and forever damaged. I think the only way to kill this toxic mess in my head is to get out of myself and communicate with the right people.
Thank you for this project. I have been looking for something like this to help me deal. Your perspective, experience, and perceptions are empowering and have given me some hope!
Have you felt the same way? Did it help you to read someone else’s story or do you have a different perspective? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!