The purpose of herpes support groups is to help you deal with the psychological aspect of herpes and provide information about treatments and research. People often write to me for support. They either feel ashamed, helpless, and dirty or just want the pain to go away. I do everything I can in my book Herpes Wise and on my website to tell people how to alleviate the physical pain, but I’m fully aware that I cannot provide psychological pain relief to all of my readers. That’s why I feel local herpes support groups are important.
The International Herpes Alliance defines the role of a support group as an entity that can provide medical advice, refer patients to clinics and doctors and help people pass through different emotional stages. They say that for most people, genital herpes is a psychological disease, not a physical one. I must agree with that. People are afraid of herpes and often fear rejection. Some people just deny being affected by herpes. These are the people who don’t disclose they have herpes to their new partners. Deep inside, they often feel dirty and ugly and lack self-esteem. Going to a herpes support group will help them express themselves and build confidence, eventually breaking the isolation that they confine themselves in.
People usually feel very anxious at the beginning. Is this the end of my sex life? Is there a cure? How do I get rid of it? These are all very common questions. Talking about it freely and no longer feeling lonely will release the pressure. Some people will talk a lot about it. I am one of them. Others will only speak to a few people. Getting support and staying well informed is the first step toward empowerment. People eventually learn to adapt and control herpes or at least not let it control them.
If you feel very anxious, ashamed or dirty you may want to participate in a local herpes support group. There are several forums online. Online support groups are a good place to start. People can learn to talk about herpes, share personal experience and speak with others who are already in control of herpes. Seeing that other people get on with their lives relieves part of the anxiety.
Offline support groups can offer human face-to-face contact. That is essential for people who feel ashamed and tend to withdraw into themselves. Going to a local support group, meeting people, and shaking hands with them, may be an important step toward self-acceptance and love.
I feel that taking care of the physical part of the disease is like treating 20% of the pain with painkillers. Doctors usually don’t provide psychological support for people who are diagnosed with herpes. Statistics confirm that most people are left dissatisfied by their doctor’s appointment. Herpes Support groups can provide the friendly environment that a doctor can’t. However, they cannot change the fear of herpes that is rampantly growing in our society.
Herpes can be controlled and doesn’t have the power to ruin our love or sex lives. We do. If we accept herpes, then maybe we can help people understand that it is not that bad to have it. We can promote healthier ways to respond to STDs in general.