November 2017
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herpes outbreak #2, five years later...


icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

Last Sunday I started to feel a bit off, and by Monday night I was sure -- I was having my second-ever genital herpes outbreak. I went to the clinic on Tuesday and got meds, and honestly while it was somewhat uncomfortable it wasn't terrible and as long as I was sitting/lying still, I didn't feel it at all. But the emotional impact was intense, because I had been unsure which type of herpes I had. See, I contracted it from someone with a cold sore going down on me, meaning it was type 1 which prefers to live in the mouth: so it could be that I would never have a genital outbreak but might have oral outbreaks. For 5 years I had no outbreaks, and I kinda got my hopes up. I communicated clearly with lovers about it and took precautions as if it were genital herpes, but I think I kinda expected it to not be. Turns out I'm not THAT lucky, though 5 years between the first two outbreaks is pretty good.

I started feeling really shitty about myself and my lack of desirability. I was texting with Allison and told them what was happening and that the actual physical part was no big deal, but the stigma was making me feel pretty intensely sad. Like I said to Allison, this outbreak is no worse than a bad acne outbreak (when you first get a bump it feels like one of those achy pimples). Most people who have herpes -- 80% -- don't even know because they don't have symptoms. People who do get outbreaks usually only get a few in their lifetime, and they decrease in frequency and intensity. It doesn't damage your system. Unless you or someone you have sex with is immuno-compromised, there is no logical reason to fear herpes, except of course for the stigma.

Interestingly, the next day my timehop showed me an article I had linked a few years before -- "The Perks of Herpes." I realized I have to come out all over again because most of the people who know me didn't know me then. I've always been out about it because unlike the author of that article, I want people to know WAY before genital contact happens. I don't think it is good consent to wait until sex is about to happen, because then there is pressure to decide on the spot and most people are not well-educated enough to do that. Most people would need to do some research in order to have a decision they are confident in. And I also just don't want to deal with the heartbreak of falling for someone and then having them be like "if your genitals might be untouchable sometimes that's gross and I don't want to be romantic with you." I guess if I fell for someone asexual I might not tell them because it really wouldn't matter.

I'm still feeling really shitty about it. I don't want people to love me in spite of a fact of my body. I don't want all potential lovers to be considering a thing that I feel is largely irrelevant. I don't have a choice though, because only informed consent is consent.

So, yeah. This came on the heels of a realization that I am older than most of the people I know and age is a factor in most people's attraction. And of course I have a significant amount of fat and that is also a factor. So I really feel intensely undesirable. I know these things will eventually blend into the background of my life again and not make me feel like a repulsive monster, but right now it's pretty terrible.

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Comments
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
It is a difficult hand to be dealt, stigma-wise, and your upfrontness about says volumes about your ethics.

I'm a little unclear about how this second outbreak verifies that it's really genital herpes, though? Both the oral herpes virus and the genital herpes virus can potentially infect either location, so the only differences I know of between them are that the genital herpes virus is somewhat more likely to infect the genitals and is also reputed to be very slightly more severe, on the average. I don't think there's any foolproof way to distinguish which of the viruses you're infected with other than getting the virus tested in a lab.

In any case: *hugs*
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
thank you.

Well, it doesn't actually verify, it just disproves the unlikely but possible thing I was told about where it would recur only in its preferred location (and type 1 likes the mouth). I'm 99% sure I have type 1 because that is what the person who gave it to me has (theirs is oral).

*hugs back*
queerbychoice ══╣╠══
Oh, it can recur wherever you were exposed to it but does tend to recur less often if you were exposed in its unpreferred location. Which would help explain why you went five years between outbreaks! It also tends to recur less and less often over time, so the next one might be ten or twenty years, or, you know, never! So you're not likely to have to worry about many future outbreaks. :-)
cactus_rs ══╣╠══
Have you seen Adam Ruins Everything? He has a great episode about why everyone should chill the fuck out about herpes.
belenen ══╣intrigued╠══
omg, I love that show, though I'm annoyed that it isn't Belenen Ruins Everything because that feels like SUCH a me title. I haven't seen that episode yet, I shall have to look it up and see if there is a transcript/subtitles.
re_vised ══╣╠══
Two in five years is not bad! I applaud your being out about having herpes. I have a friend who has it, but she doesn't say anything to anyone. (She's married, so I suppose it's a mute point.) She had a terrible time dealing with the stigma.
belenen ══╣analytical╠══
That is true! I have been relatively lucky and should be grateful!

The stigma is so ridiculous *shakes head* I think if people realized how usually mild and prevalent it is they'd get over it, but people have to be willing to be out...
wolfteaparty ══╣╠══
The stigma is sad. Herpes should not be treated like it's scary or the end of the world (and in my opinion, it's not a reason to reject someone that one is in love with). If more people were open about it, maybe the stigma would go down as people see how common it really is.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
I agree! plus, it's ridiculous that cold sores are treated like nothing while genital herpes is treated like plague -- they can both create the same thing. *shakes head*
webgirluk ══╣pic#124969441╠══
I'm sorry to read that you're going through this :-( It's not helpful when we live in a world that enables stigmatising things.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
*nods* thank you for the sympathy.
miintikwa ══╣╠══
I have oral herpes. I am ALWAYS out and open about it, because I do not want there to be ANY risk at all. I have had people say "ew gross," and reject me because of it, but I kinda look at that article as a good example of why I feel better about it when they do.

At any rate, I grok the feelings of undesirability. I have had that, too. But, from someone who probably would never be able to date you, I have always found your spirit utterly glorious and desirable, and your body is the same. <3 <3 <3
belenen ══╣adoring╠══
dayum, I had never heard of someone being rejected due to oral herpes. People are so ignorant about it!

aaawwww, thank you! that is very sweet <3 <3
lusimeles ══╣╠══
thank you for writing this entry! i think it is very brave. i agree with your perspective on disclosure and consent.

from what i can tell, it seems like you have several lovely partners already. i can't speak for them, but i can say that if my partner wound up having herpes, i'd probably still love the shit out of his body - just bc it's a physically sexy body to me - despite the herpes (which, ia, is much less of a deal than most people make it out to be).

i hope you feel better soon.
belenen ══╣artistic╠══
thank you for appreciating!

I have only one sexual partner right now (and for the past few years), but I have a lot of very close and cuddly friends that I value as much as lovers :)

thank you <3
pallid_regina ══╣╠══
Dan Savage's take on herpes is so good, I wish he would write a book just about that for people to have. Here's hoping you get to a good head space soon.
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
thank you <3
soundofsunlight ══╣reeds╠══
I'm sorry you're feeling bad right now. I think having herpes is not a terrible thing; I wish we had better education about it so people wouldn't blow it so out of proportion. There's a lot of fear about things that wouldn't be scary if the facts were known.
belenen ══╣nascent╠══
I agree! if only people would self-educate when they have the chance and share their knowledge, we'd have a vastly better world.
lusimeles ══╣╠══
Ah, sorry for the misunderstanding! I did skim one of your "People" posts, but probably didn't fully comprehend the language choices.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.