Welcome To The Club

New around here?

Welcome to the HSV sisterhood! Where shame and stigma don’t exist and EVERYONE else is going through it. Sure, our journeys may all look a little different but we’re all here for the same reason - to find comfort within our diagnosis. My mission is to cultivate connection, provide you with reassuring resources, and empower you to take your life back - all while making some wild improvements along the way.

Below I’ve included the top 5 things I recommend to those who reach out to me for help, advice, or guidance. It’s not necessarily the perfect formula (that doesn’t exist!) - but these are the things that helped me on my journey as I learned to cope with herpes.

Let’s get started!

1 Take a deep breath

Okay but really. Stop reading this for a second, close your eyes and take a long, slow, deep breath in through your nose - then release it with a big SIGH from an open mouth. Mm, feel good? Now do it a few more times! Then notice your body. Did your shoulders relax? Did you jaw soften? Try to let go of an extra tension in your body. And repeat as needed.

Normally, we take short, shallow breaths. This type of breathing triggers that fight or flight response in the sympathetic nervous system that can create feelings of tension and stress. Just what we need, right? Absolutely not. Slow, deep breathing can relieve stress, decrease your heart rate & blood pressure, and help you think more clearly. So just start there. It’s free. It’s easy. And it’s available to you 24 hours a day! The next time you feel fear, anxiety, or anger creeping into your thoughts - stop, close your eyes, and BREATHE.

2 Find Reassuring Resources

There are lots of online articles about living with herpes - most of which come from popular culture media like Cosmo & Women’s Health. Aside from that we’ve got WebMD and all the other horrifying medical articles available to us. None of those sat well with me. They felt vapid and/or cold - leaving me more confused than I was before I had set out for answers. Can I save you loads of trouble and share really stellar resources? My favorites are from those who have lived it and learned it.

  • Something Positive for Positive People - a podcast that started as a safe space for HSV+ people to talk about their journeys and share their personal experiences. It has since evolved into an “inclusive hub for sex-positive resources.” Real people. Real stories. Real feels. Check it out here and follow Courtney, the man behind the podcast, on Instagram. That’s where I connected with him and now he’s one of my most favorite people.

  • Carlee Murrell - dear friend, HSV sister, and personal-development coach helping womxn tap into their fullest potential. Aside from offering empowerment and gentle words of love and wisdom to her followers on instagram, Carlee offers HSV support calls guiding womxn to heal holistically and teaching them to navigate an HSV diagnosis from a healthier place. Give her a call if you’re curious!

  • Emily Depasse - is a writer and sexologist redefining the narratives surrounding STI’s and is slaying the stigma while she does it! Her instagram posts are FIRE -sharing her thoughts on disclosure, stigma, and social justice. Emily is absolutely brilliant and her work is grounded in academic research - providing nothing but solid information and valuable knowledge.

  • The STD Project - ran by the OG Herpes Queen herself, Jenelle Marie Pierce is a herpes activist working so hard to provide the kind of resources that we are all desperate for when we’re newly diagnosed (I’m 3+ years into my diagnosis and I’m still turning to her page for resources.) She created the HANDS, a network of other herpes activists (including me!) working to dismantle the stigma surrounding HSV. Not only does the STD Project contain tons of articles on herpes but it can connect you to even more people living, and thriving, with this diagnosis!

You can also check out my resource page to explore other videos, HSV+ people, and other helpful things that I’ve found along the way (bear with me, technology isn’t my bag- so that page is always under construction!)

3 Find Your Community

Whether it’s your siblings, your best friends, a local or online support group (attend one of mine!) or your improv troop you feel completely yourself around- find a community that supports you! My best friends were easy to confide in because they love and support me unconditionally… but nobody every said, “me too!” And because I felt like none of them could really understand what I was going through - I sought out a group that could. I attended my local HSV support group. And when THAT wasn’t exactly the community was looking for either… I created my own. If you can’t find a community, start one! You’ll attract the kind of people you’re in search of. Just look at all the awesome babes I’ve come to know through this!

Bottom line - find a community who can hold you up and cheer you on. It’s so much easier than doing it alone.

4 When You’re Ready to Disclose

Finding a group could mean having to open up about your diagnosis to others …and that can be TERRIFYING. Not all of us are ready to disclose. But trust me when I say that talking about it to someone who truly cares about you can really change your perspective. I’d say almost always you’ll be met with comfort and support. Unfortunately, not everyone can be so accepting and it’s not always a guarantee that you’ll be met with that kind of tenderness - but usually if you believe that that person really fucking loves you, they’ll be there to listen to you. And if you absolutely cannot bear the thought of telling someone for fear that they will reject you - start with me. Reach out to me via social media or email and tell me your story! Or maybe attend a meeting (or just quietly listen in on one.) Sometimes listening to others share their stories can help you find your voice. Just try not to keep your story buried or untold - it’s a story that really matters.

5 Take Care of Yourself

Last but never least, take care of your damn self.

Girl, you’ve probably already berated and punished yourself enough already! And let me tell you (from LOTS of experience) - that will get you nowhere! Herpes isn’t going anywhere, unfortunately, and it certainly doesn’t respond well to your body’s stress! So stop beating yourself up so badly and start caring for your body, your mind, and your spirit. Whatever self-love looks like for you- do it. Do it often! See a therapist, go to yoga, get a massage, get a full 8 hours a sleep each night, drink more water, say sweet things into the mirror, get your nails did. Why? You’ve earned it, sister! Not to mention you’re more likely to experience less outbreaks when you’re in a better state of health and mind. This may be the most difficult suggestion for some of us to adhere to, but please try to make it a priority. Practice makes perfect, and pretty soon self- love will be your new religion.

Like I said, there is no perfect formula for healing. Each of us are on a unique journey, trying to sort out what all of this means. But hopefully my experience can help you to find a little formula that works for you. I’m glad that you’re here, I’m glad that you’re looking for answers, I’m so fucking glad that you’re doing this work. Welcome to the sisterhood, babe. You’re not alone.

XO

Rae

Rae Higgins