Helpful information & advice on dealing with Herpes
Managing and living a normal life once you have herpes can be very challenging but many people have been through the same experience. Below is a list of helpful information for anyone with herpes.
Guidance and Direction for people living with herpes
Living with Herpes – A practical approach
Know the facts
How do I tell someone, especially my partner, that I have herpes?
The importance of self-esteem, adaptation and acceptance
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
A diagnosis of herpes often comes as a shock. Many people do not feel comfortable talking about sexuality and sexual health issues.
There are many avenues for help, reassurance and guidance. Below are resources that can offer help and support for people living with and affected by herpes:
Herpes Acceptance with Counseling
Adequate information about herpes and the implications for the future are an important part of clinical management and treatment. Counseling offers a way of dealing with your concerns.
If you or your partner are finding it hard to come to terms with the news, need advice, guidance for the future, or just need to talk with someone, a medical expert or counselor can help give you some direction.
Encourage yourself or your partner to speak with a medical expert or counselor.
Support Groups for Herpes
The experience and support of other people with herpes can be extremely valuable. Support groups for people with herpes exist in many countries and they have the objective of providing support and education to people with herpes.
For anyone who feels isolated by herpes, self-help groups can provide a much-needed arena for open discussion and the exchange of information and ideas.
The more emotionally charged an issue, the more important it is to find out the facts. Most people know little or nothing about herpes. Frequently, what knowledge they have is colored by myth and misconception.
Having the correct information makes it easier for everyone concerned. Herpes is extremely common. In some countries, up to one in five people are infected with this virus, whether they know it or not.
Some basic herpes facts that you should know about.
- Herpes is passed on when one person has the virus present on the skin or mucosa and another person makes direct skin-to-skin contact with the live virus.
- The virus is likely to be present on the skin from the first sign of prodrome (tingling or itching at the site where an outbreak usually occurs), until the sores have completely healed and new skin is present.
- There is the possibility of being certain periods of time (most likely only a few days out of the year) when the active virus might be on the skin, even though there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
- Always using latex condoms can greatly reduce the risk of transmitting the virus at these times.
- Herpes is very frequently transmitted by infected people who do not know they are infected.
- Once diagnosed, a person generally is able to take the simple precautions necessary to protect partners – avoiding contact during prodrome periods or during an active outbreak and practicing safer sex when no symptoms are present.
ATTITUDE AND SELF-ESTEEM WITH HERPES
- A positive attitude helps greatly, starting with a positive perspective towards oneself.
- It is important for individuals to have time and space with themselves so that they can learn about their strengths and develop them.
- For anyone who finds stress a particular problem or has trouble relaxing, there are specific techniques, such as meditation and courses on stress management that can help.
- Some enlightening articles on stress management and ways to achieve more positive states of living can be found in the Emotional Healing & Support section of this blog.
OUTBREAKS AND RECURRENCES
- A person who experiences recurrent genital herpes should try to get to know the pattern of their outbreaks, and may discover the particular circumstances that are triggering an episode. With this understanding one can then learn to avoid the outbreaks by tailoring their lifestyle.
- To gain relief from frequent recurrences, internal antiviral treatment may help. It can prevent some recurrences and provide valuable ‘breathing time’ in which people can learn to strengthen their own resources.
When it comes down to the basics of telling someone you have herpes, there is no foolproof method. What you say and how you say it are going to depend on your own personal style. It is only natural to feel apprehensive about telling someone else about genital herpes for the first time.
A good long-term relationship must be based always on honesty and trust. While some people may experience an negative response, most have found their partners are both supportive and understanding.
- If your partner does decide not to pursue a relationship with you simply because you have herpes, it is in your best interest to find out now. It takes a lot more than the occasional aggravation of herpes to destroy a sound relationship.
- Carefully choose the time and place for telling someone. Although it may not be necessary to tell someone right at the beginning of a relationship, do not wait until after a serious relationship is established as this is not fair to the other person and does not respect their inherent right of free will.
- It is ideal for the discussion to take place where you feel safe and comfortable. Some people turn off the TV, take the phone off the hook, and approach the subject over a quiet dinner at home. Others prefer a more public place, like walking in the park, or a quiet restaurant, so that their partner will feel free to go home afterwards to think things through.
- Be prepared. Plan what is going to be said and have your facts about genital herpes clear. It can be a good idea to have information that is relevant to herpes printed out and on hand for the person in question to read. This will offer your partner facts and knowledge that will put the situation into a higher perspective, as well as reduce any associated fear to the risks involved with herpes.
- You are doing the right thing for the both of you. By telling your partner, you allow them to enter into the relationship with full knowledge of the condition.
- Be spontaneous. Be confident. Your energy at time will dictate their receptivity and how they take the news. It is far more beneficial if you come to an acceptance of the situation and yourself so that this energy radiates out of you. When you love and accept yourself this will be the response and treatment you receive from others.
- A freeing advantage to being open with your partner is when you have an outbreak, you can discuss it with them instead of making excuses for why you can’t have sex. If the two of you are able to discuss the situation, openly and honestly, you can negotiate around it. Imaginative lovers find ways to weather these temporary setbacks.
- Consider how you would feel if the roles were reversed and you were being told. You can also role-play the situation with a friend who already knows your situation, but do not let them always play the understanding partner. Convincing another person can help you prepare for a situation where the response you receive is not the most positive; it is important that you are prepared for whatever the outcome may be and these scenarios experienced through role play will expose you to them, reducing as much shock and pain as possible.
Personal rejection, with or without herpes, is a possibility we all face. Fear of rejection can lead some to question why they should risk talking about herpes and choose not to disclose the fact. Instead they abstain during outbreaks, practice safe sex at other times.
This way of thinking can have more disadvantages than advantages:
- Dishonesty is not only affecting the person you are doing it to, but it is also affecting your relationship you have with yourself. The burden and weight of the deception is a heavy thing to carry no matter how good at denial you may be.
- You spend a lot of time and energy worrying that your partner is going to get herpes.
- The longer you put off telling, the more likely your partner will find out elsewhere and the more hurtful it can be to them, knowing you had deceived them for so long.
- It gets harder to do the longer you wait.
- For most people, the anxiety of not telling is worse than the act of telling someone you have herpes.
- Excuses create distance between partners and often lead to dangerous guesswork. Your partner might interpret your excuses in ways more damaging to the relationship than an honest discussion of herpes would be.
- Your attitude will influence how this news is received. Psychologists have observed that people tend to behave the way you expect them to behave, and expecting rejection increases the chances of an unhappy outcome.
What if your partner has herpes?
If your partner has herpes, your support will be very important in helping him or her deal with this condition. This situation will also directly affect you in some way or another, so if it is your intention to be with this person, it is your responsibility to become aware of what it is that you are really dealing with and come to an acceptance along with your partner. It is truly a journey that you will both be sharing together.
When your partner goes back to the doctor, you may wish to go too, so that you can find out more about the infection and determine if you are also a carrier of the virus. Together you will be able to become informed and proficient at managing the virus and preventing it from hindering any aspect of your life or relationship.
Herpes does not change all the good and wonderful things that make you ‘you’. It has nothing to do with your intelligence, social habits, unique essence or characteristics. You are a loving, sexual, whole individual. No one else on the planet has the things that you have to offer.
Unconsciously, many of us have a lot of negative beliefs related to herpes that make it difficult to convince ourselves that others would want to be with us. It is important to recognize that these are simply beliefs and you have the ability to consciously change them. Accepting the fact that you have herpes will make it easier to let others into your life and for them to love you unconditionally. We are treated the way that we feel we deserve to be treated. By changing the way we treat our self we transform our relationships and bring more joy into our lives.
Sit down with a pen and paper and say to yourself, “I have herpes.” What thought pops into your head? No matter what it is, write it down. Do this again and again until you have identified a number of the stereotypical/negative feelings that you have about herpes. Reflect on this with a higher perspective; one that can see that these are nothing but conditioned, negative thoughts that have been adopted by you during your lifetime and they very rarely contain any truth or base in reality. With this understanding you are aware that there is a place within yourself where you can come from and dwell in that has vast power and control over your experiences in life.
Look at your list. How many of the negative feelings or beliefs are truly valid? Take your list and replace each of your negative beliefs with a positive one. You have the power to change what you believe about yourself. Whenever you find your inner voice telling you that you can’t do or have anything that you desire, simply interrupt it and firmly repeat to yourself your positive replacement. The more often you repeat these positive statements, the more they reinforce themselves.
You can think and believe whatever you choose to think about yourself. Years of negative belief patterns do not disappear overnight and it might take some repetition and effort on your part to rewire these mental habits. But eventually, by deliberately replacing your old negative beliefs with positive new ones, you can begin to change how you think and feel about yourself – consciously and unconsciously. It is truly possible to be free and happy within your being, no matter what the circumstances are in your life.
Well done! Just by being at this point of investigation on your path, it is a clear reflection that you are reaching out for expansion and ready for change. You are here because you are capable of confronting this difficult issue in your life with courage and consideration.