Your Life with Herpes - Part One

  • Getting off the Emotional Rollercoaster

    When you were told that you had herpes, what was your reaction? Fear? Shock? Anger? Sadness? Or Resolution?

    I’ve seen all of these reactions … and others.

    The initial reaction to the news that you have herpes is often a major one, often involving involves many negative emotions.

    Let’s face it, no one wants a lifelong disease, particularly one that unfortunately often carries significant stigma.

    First, let’s deal with the chronic disease part of the equation. While it’s true that herpes is caused by a virus that can not currently be eradicated, it’s also true that the disease can be successfully managed – with medication and with lifestyle changes.
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    Historically, doctors did a lousy job teaching their patients how to cope with a chronic condition. For herpes patients, our answers were medication, safe sex and more medication.

    Recently, I was introduced to a program that seeks to change that. It’s a six week set of seminars that aim to teach people with chronic illnesses, such as herpes, how to manage their condition. And it goes far beyond taking medication!

    For example, in one session, participants learn relaxation techniques that can be integrated into daily living to help them manage their condition better.

    Participants also learn to approach managing their condition using simple weekly goals. For many, this is a much less daunting task than facing a myriad of huge issues that come with having a chronic condition.

    For example, A person with herpes could follow the below list:

    1. Do 10 minutes of yoga 3 times this week.
    2. Go online and spend a half hour twice during the week talking with others in a herpes support group.

    These are simple goals that can give a person a real sense of accomplishment and can help them learn to manage their condition. Studies show that the program is extraordinarily successful – participants feel healthier and better about themselves and they control their illnesses more successfully.

    You might see if your doctor can refer you to a similar program in your area.

    Now to the second issue: the psychological factor.

    If you are one of the people who carry around tremendous shame and fear over your diagnosis – believing that the condition will end your sex life, cause endless suffering or is a punishment for “bad” behavior – it is time you stop and address your feelings.

    Having herpes does not change who you are. People with herpes lead rich and rewarding lives despite the diagnosis. It is simply a chronic viral illness which CAN be controlled. You CAN have a fulfilling and open sexual relationship. You CAN have a healthy pregnancy.

    I have patients who manage their herpes, and I have patients who let herpes manage them. What type are you?

    Get off the emotional rollercoaster. Talk to someone – a friend, a spouse, a partner, your health care provider. Work through any feelings of anger, sadness or depression. Let go of the negative thoughts and feelings. Take control of your condition. You’ll be better – and healthier – for it.
Published On: September 25, 2006