How do I cope with possible rejection for having herpes?

Dear Dr. Amy:

Hi. I have lived with herpes since I was 17, I am now 21. It seems that over the years I have gotten more depressed about this, I cry all the time and have given up hope, I feel like I am all alone. Sure they say that 1 in 5 have this disease but who are those 1 in 5? I feel very alone. I guess it has gotten worse over the past four months because I have met someone, who is really nice to me, and wants to marry me. One night we were talking about what we fear and he told me he feared getting AIDS, or cancer, or something like that. This just made me cry because I feel that I am his biggest fear because this is pretty close. I’m also afraid that if I have sex I might give it to him. See, I got this disease from my first boyfriend, and then he left me. This other guy comes along, and was very persistant, so we went out. I told him that I had herpes, and we tried to be careful but he still got it. I’m afraid of this happening because I have an outbreak every month. I stayed with this guy for over 2 years, because I felt obligated to, but he was emotionally abusive, and later became physically abusive to me, so when he broke up with me it was a blessing. It has been over a year now and he still semi-stalks me, but I guess I deserve this so I haven’t done anything about it. What I am really afraid of is being rejected, being alone, yet of getting too close. I guess it would help if I had someone to talk to about this, who also has it, but the closest support group is 4 hours away. I guess I would just like to end it all, so I wouldn’t have to go through this any more. I pray to God to take my life. Is there any hope out there?????

Dr. Amy’s Response:

Yes, there is hope. You have described some signs of depression- excessive crying, feeling hopeless, and low self-esteem. The good news is that depression is treatable and responds well to psychotherapy and/or medication. I recommend that you begin by having an evaluation by a psychiatrist who can recommend a course of treatment. This is the first thing you need to do to get started. 

You obviously are in a lot of emotional pain and feel like you don’t have any options or control over your life. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship or to be stalked. You can get legal protection-check into that. This is probably hard for you to believe right now because when you are feeling depressed it’s difficult to imagine things getting better. Accepting help from others is hard to do but you have made the first step by writing to me.

While a support group would be beneficial, as you mentioned, the distance does not make that possible. You may find another type of support group that is local that addresses issues that you are dealing with such as relationships. Contact your local mental health center for this information or look in the newspaper for lisitngs of support groups. You might want to consider individual therapy as well to help work through your low feelings and to provide you with guidance and support in your current relationship. There are also suicide hotlines that are often listed in the front of your telephone book that have counselors available 24 hours a day. You can also contact the National Herpes Hotline at (919) 361-8488 and this website’s chat room for more information and interpersonal support. You have spent 5 years suffering alone-you’ve taken a positive step by reaching out-keep going!


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