How do we deal with “Life Changing Events”? Generally it depends on the situation at hand.
The birth of a child usually brings celebration; a graduation from High School or College? Again – a celebration and maybe feelings of anticipation about what the future might bring. Moving into a new house? Mixed emotions most probably concerning how the payments will be made if some unforeseeable hard times occur along with feelings of excitement, accomplishment and pride.
What if the life changing events are very different in nature? In our lifetime, we most certainly change jobs; experience a tense job or home situations for one reason or another. We will likely lose friends and loved ones to illness or accident. Our lives may be changed or altered that call for adjustments to be made to continue living the life as closely to that which we were living before the change occurred. These life alterations are what we will concentrate on in this article.
The life-changing event of being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) need only require alterations such as educating ourselves in hopes of continuing life as we have known it. It may help to know the author of this paper is also infected with genital herpes. It was believed that my life would never be the same. It is not. It is better. As most things, it takes time and I hope to give you a more clear definition of the acronym STD to encourage your healing and provide support.
S = STOP!
The phrase “That which does not kill us will only make us stronger” has never been more true than with a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted infection. The social stigma alone can cause great emotional stress. This unspoken yet apparent social stigma and general perception is that those who contract an STI (sexually transmitted infection) are probably promiscuous, unclean and uneducated or maybe they even deserved it. There is a sort of “Children of a Lesser God” mindset. Now that we have an STD we are less than we were before? This couldn’t be further from the truth, but nonetheless, seems to be an overwhelming and shared feeling for the newly diagnosed. That is why we must immediately STOP all thoughts of this sort. It would seem that the moment a diagnosis of an STD is given that time stops. Many have the perception that everything in life will now be measured from that point on as “Before Herpes” or “After Herpes”. STOP! Stop and consider that it is not surprising that STDs infect so many people when most everyone does engage in sex. It is a normal part of life. Sex to humans, is as natural as eating, breathing and sleeping. In a study by the Kaiser Foundation and the American Health Association (ASHA) there are more than 15 million will be diagnosed with STD’s every year. So as you can see “You are not Alone”. For the millions in the Herpes and HPV Community there are ASHA Help Groups in nearly every state that will help understand this rather unwelcome life change with Certified Help Group Coordinators and friends to answer questions and assist in shouldering the burden an STD diagnosis can bring. There are many Online groups where you can find friends in your area or globally. One more point to ponder! The national standard is 1 in 4 people have herpes. There are 4 Presidents on the face of Mount Rushmore. You are certainly not alone and you are also in good company!
T = THINK
Although it is hard for someone newly diagnosed to understand, it has been said by some that herpes made them a better, more responsible person. The root of this may be akin to a woman giving birth at a young age. She may be thankful because she became more grounded at an early age. There is however, no less a responsibility to living with a new child or living with an STD. Both require responsibility and attention. During your adjustment time with herpes I ask you to consider this as a time of retrospect, a time to THINK. In an article found at www.herpes.org “Herpes a Powerful Tool” it is stated “where else can you have something such as an internal mechanism that will give indications of when you are run down, tired, becoming ill, or stressing?” This is done through a person’s individual symptoms or prodrome which can be anything from a burning in the thigh area to a tingle, itching or slight burning in the genital area. Recurrences of outbreaks of genital herpes usually involve some “triggers”. This is a time to focus on just what actually triggers your outbreaks. Target the things in your life that stress you, make you worry or upset and find ways to adjust them, approach them differently or avoid them all together. You may need to take some time and simply think of yourself and consider the overall big picture. There are many people living full and successful lives with an STD and you can be one more! It may be that having herpes gave these people reason to think about ways to succeed. They took the time to stop and think about the their future.
D = DECIDE
Events in our lives give it structure, substance and meaning. These events will either become a strong foundation upon which life is built or the rubble we dig from under. After we have overcome the shock of an STD diagnosis, grown in understanding the virus and have taken the time to think about how we will let it affect us, the next step is to continue on and make decisions about “What next?” Being wounded is a universal experience and being wounded brings about questions and oftentimes, doubts. DECIDE how you will approach and begin healing these wounds. Will you be the master of your destiny or become detached and unable to get beyond these debilitating moments? Liberate yourself from those fears that can and will hold you back. Don’t give this STD the power to affect your self- image. Decide for yourself how you will let this STD affect your life and do not let it be a complication. STDs are often much less threatening than conditions people are diagnosed with every day such as asthma, cancer or even eczema! Decide that you are fortunate because most STDs do not have to be debilitating or lessen your life unless you let it. You have an STD – it doesn’t have you!
S – Stop and learn. Wisdom comes.
T – Think. Truth evolves.
D – Decide. Knowledge lingers.
Life is not over. It has just begun – again.