I’ve spent a lot of time writing about my eating and how it’s really the biggest label I am fighting right now, however, tonight I have been working on my college project and doing some research on skin disorders. In my first post I mentioned that one of my labels is Herpes and figured it’s time to revisit this one.
I was a reckless idiot in my last two years of school. Low self-esteem coupled with my then undiagnosed BPD made me a bit of a, well, slut. I know I am not the only one with BPD who has done this, it’s a common ‘symptom’ apparently. I guess I also view sex differently, to me it has never really been totally sacred, it’s a basic animalistic ‘need’ and I hate that men get congratulated for sleeping around but women are labelled whores…but that’s a whooole other post! I may also view it differently due to the sexual abuse that went on in my family circle. I was also exposed in my tweens with a family member being addicted to porn and me finding it on the PC; it all kind of adds up and makes sense. Sex wasn’t sacred.
Anyway, the point of that ramble was that I was reckless and yet never struck out with an STD (so put your judgemental thoughts away) or any unplanned kiddies or anything. Nope. It was in 2012 when I was dating a guy, planning our wedding, that I ended up at the doctor with severe pelvic pain. Being a government hospital I was never told what was wrong exactly (just some mumble of PID or chlamydia), and instead my partner and I were just shoved on a ton of antibiotics and treated to a scornful remark from the pharmacist. Judgemental prick. My partner ‘forgot’ to take the entire course of medication and it took a few months plus a few more trips to the doctor for me to find out that my partner not only cheated on me, but was a coke addict and was sleeping with both men and women. Don’t even ask how all that slipped past me. I was at a really low point in my life and he was hardly ever home, and mostly made sure I stayed at home anyway. I was on the pill at the time and about to get engaged, so extra protection didn’t seem necessary. It was a huge messy break up and after being attacked by his coke buddies I OD’d and ended up in a clinic.
So then after all this I start dating this amazing guy, my current partner, but I was still having issues with pelvic pain and missed periods and kept being told that it was just PID. Eventually after being in so much pain I could barely walk and missing my periods for 3 months I had a scan and tons of blood tests done. I found out I have ovarian cysts which is likely the cause of most of the pain and also the missing periods but the worst was when I got a phone call and my gynae goes, “well, good news is you don’t have chlamydia. But your HSV 1 and 2 tests came back positive and you also have an infection called ureaplasma. I will give you antibiotics for the infection but there is no cure for Herpes.”
My world stopped.
An then I cried. And I cried, and I cried..and cried some more. I also did some research when I could actually see out of my blurry, swollen eyes. Herpes? Me? Only whores get that. It’s a dirty, filthy STD that belongs to a reckless prostitute, not me. But as I began to research I was astounded. Firstly Herpes is also the virus which causes cold sores. HSV 1 is generally the type that causes cold sores and HSV 2 is more the genital herpes virus. Now you could be asking, “how the hell didn’t she know she had it?” and my answer is: not every one gets symptoms. Which goes on to my next point, Herpes is the second biggest viral epidemic next to HIV/AIDS! Approximately 80-90% of the American population have HSV 1 and it is mostly contracted during childhood. ALSO, HSV 1, although mostly oral can be spread to genitals via oral sex. Betcha didn’t know that; I know I didn’t. As for HSV 2 approximately 1 out of 6 people have it. That’s huge! But no one talks about it! There is such a stigma attached to it that we don’t say anything for fear of being judged. Even now, I still have days where I’m reminded that I have it, whether due to a flare up or because somebody passes a remark about herpes in general, and I still hear those voices calling me a slut. A dirty whore. Why would anyone want to be with me?? Oh yes, and then I also had to tell my partner and nearly lost him. He did freak out and had tests done, however after getting negatives in his tests (we’ve been together nearly 2 years) and researching, he decided he loved me regardless. We just have to be careful and I have to be totally open about any flare ups.
So here is how it affects my life:
If anyone finds out (and I live in a teeny gossipy village) I will be judged and prove all the bullies right. Herpes attacks the immune system so I will always be more susceptible to getting sick and when my immune system is low from being sick then the Herpes flares up, so it’s a vicious cycle. Having next-to-no symptoms means I often don’t know when I am most contagious. Worst I get is some tingling and a really annoying itch (which I always thought was Candida). Not getting sores does mean I am not as contagious as those who do get sores, which is a positive. I will probably never have unprotected sex with my life long partner because if they happen to get it they may not be as lucky as me with regards to symptoms. Oral sex is pretty much something I will never experience again. If (thanks to all the damage from infections, big if) I can still have children and I am having a flare up during birth I could pass it on to my child and either kill them or leave them blind. If my partner and I ever happen to break up I would have to tell every potential partner there after that I have Herpes. How the hell do you break that news? Generally you date a person a while before jumping in to bed, so now you tell them and they run away screaming and you waste what, a month, two months thinking you may have happiness. You can’t tell them right away either as that would just sound slutty; “Oh hi, nice to meet you and by the way I have Herpes. Not that I’m going to sleep with you tonight but just in case, you know.” Because that isn’t awkward.
And here I sit, knowing that 1 out of 6 people have this but the vast majority of the population don’t have a real clue what it is about. The government doesn’t test for it in routine tests because they don’t think it helps in reducing the spread. In fact from what I’ve read they care very little about either testing, educating, or trying to stop the spread. People who don’t get symptoms don’t generally tell their partners which means they could be spreading this virus left, right and centre. I can understand why they wouldn’t tell due to my above mentioned awkward convo’s but how can you live with yourself if you don’t say anything?? I would rather feel awkward.
So there is another label. It’s 1:09am and I have no idea where the time went. I don’t know if I ever fully accepted this label. Most days I still tell myself it never happened. It’s only on those days when it creeps into my mind that I feel the shame and guilt which I know is misplaced, but still. And I would probably break my ex’s neck if he came near me. I have so much anger towards him that I am scared of what I may do if he decided to come up to me. There are not enough expletives in the world.
If anyone reads this and has questions please feel free to comment.