Herpes Diagnosis & Empowerment: An Interview With Jenna Roberts a Life With Herpes Member

Life With Herpes Podcast - Transcript Jenna Roberts

Hear how a herpes diagnosis went from devastation to empowerment 

Alexandra: Hey you guys, I'm Alexandra Harbushka, founder of Life With Herpes. And I'm really excited today because I have an interview with one of our secret society members. So Jenna Roberts has offered to tell her story, share what it was like to get diagnosed, share what it was like to go through that whole process with her doctor. Go in, find out that it was herpes, you know, her whole dating story. And then she's going to share a little bit with us about how she feels her herpes diagnosis has actually empowered her. So this is something that a lot of us think when we're diagnosed or we hear of somebody being diagnosed that our life is over. And that is something I know I felt and I'm sure Jenna felt this is what as well, when she was first diagnosed, that our lives are over when it comes to dating, when it comes to sex, when it comes to really anything that we want in life. And I know I found through my diagnosis, I completely transformed my life. So I'm so excited to hear Jenna tell her story. So welcome Jenna.

Jenna: Hi. Thank you.

Alexandra: Thanks for being here. This is, this is so exciting because we were talking off air. I haven't had anybody on the show that is a part of our community, our Life With Herpes communities. This is really great to have, you know, people in our county that's what it's all about. What part of the world are you from? Are you East coast? West coast?

Jenna: East coast.

Alexandra: East coast. Is it cold?

Jenna: Yeah, actually we're expecting snow tonight.

Alexandra: Oh my gosh. So we're recording this right now in December, guys. So if you're listening, it's December. It's the holiday season. So yeah, that sounds, yeah, that sounds chilly. I'm in Las Vegas.

Jenna: Right. Oh, lucky.

Alexandra: All right Jenna. So why don't you start off and telling us a little bit about your diagnosis story?

Jenna: Okay. So, Oh, sorry.

Alexandra: Oh no, you're fine. Because it is--  all of our stories are not that different yet there's always a unique twist to it that we all can learn from. So why don't you go on ahead and share.

Jenna: Okay. So I was diagnosed in 2014. So I've had the diagnosis five years. And basically, I ended up catching it, on, I had been sort of seeing this guy for a little bit, off of, I met him on Tinder and we had gone out a couple of times and we had slept together a few times and basically after one of the weekends that I spent with him, I would say maybe two days after seeing, what is after seeing him, I ended up getting what felt like a paper cut. And so, of course, I was like looking with a mirror down there and I didn't really see anything and it just hurt really bad, like so much pain. I mean, I couldn't even, I couldn't even lay down. I couldn't say I can't walk, I couldn't do anything. It was very, very, very, very painful.

Alexandra: You know, something's wrong, like, you know. Yeah. And it's typical with a paper cut because we don't think paper cut means herpes. We think paper cut means like, "Oh, I just had sex and there wasn't enough fluid.". [crosstalk] Yeah. Or rough or something like that. Yeah. That's exactly what i thought.

Jenna: I used a different soap or lotion or underwear or like, just something like, almost like your, you know, when your lips get chapped, you're like, "Oh, I need to use chapstick." or whatever, like your hands now that we're in the winter, like your hands get chapped after you do the dishes. You're like, "Oh, I didn't put lotion on. I did too many dishes." Like--

Alexandra: Right, exactly.

Jenna: Yeah, that's, I mean, I, I didn't see anything, so I just kind of was like, okay, I guess I'm, I guess I will just sort of let this heal up, whatever it is. But then as the days progressed, it just hurt even more. And so I think it was maybe five days in or six days in that I finally scheduled a doctor's appointment to go get it checked out, just to make sure that everything was okay. And so I scheduled an appointment, and I went in and the doctor checked me out and he basically was like, you know, I've seen so many cases of herpes and this does not look anything like it, but I'm going to go ahead and culture it anyway just to be safe. But he's like, I really don't think that that's what it is. So that gave me a little bit of peace of mind because, you know, he was a professional and he kind of give me the confidence that it wasn't herpes. And so I waited, I waited and I waited for the phone call. And then maybe about a week later he calls me and he said that I had herpes simplex virus two. And he confirmed it.

Alexandra: How was his is message. Was it like, was it very, was it good bedside manner? Was it very matter of fact? Was it I'm so sorry to tell you?

Jenna: It was, it was kind of, it was kind of both matter of fact and I'm sorry. He basically called me and was like, you know, "We cultured it. It came back positive for HSV too. I'm really sorry, but you should know that it's really common." And he said it just kind of like that with a flat affect. And then I just was like, "Okay." You know, I mean, what do you really say in that moment? So I hung up the phone. And I just, I cried and I cried the day that I found out. And at the time I was living in a different state and so like I didn't have much of a support system at the time. And even if even if I dead like I, I kept it a secret for a really long time because I was like, I just can't share this piece of me. Like there's just no way I'm going to be able to tell anybody this about me ever again. Like ever. You know, I was mortified. I felt so, I just felt so much shame and so much embarrassment that like, I let this happen to myself. I mean, I went through a whole slew of emotions and then I went through a phase of denial. I was like, this is just, I mean, part of me wanted to think that like he had made a mistake and then part of me was like, "Well, it's not really that big of a deal, but I'm just going to keep, I'm just going to keep having sex." You know, because, you know, but it was, it was not from a healthy place. It was definitely like from a place of denial, you know, and to be honest--

Alexandra: With the same guy or with someone new?

Jenna: No, with different, with different people.

Alexandra: Okay. So it's like, "I don't really have this or I don't really care."

Jenna: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And at the time, honestly, because it was like still relatively new, I would say this was probably within my first year of having it, you know, there were times that I didn't even disclose and it's really terrible and I feel, you know, really bad saying that, but I was in such a place of denial. And it wasn't really until I would say like year two or three of me having it that I was able to kind of come to terms with it a little bit more. And the way that I did that was by just stopping dating altogether, you know. I felt like if I couldn't-- if I didn't feel confident in myself to be able to like share this vulnerable piece of information about me with somebody, then there's absolutely no reason that I should be dating, period, you know? So I kind of went through a phase where I just was really going to focus on learning how to re-love myself.

Alexandra: That's so important, that's great. I'm going to stop you right there because it's so easy for us just as humans just to say like, "Oh, I'll just keep going. I'll just keep plugging along or on numb it with something else." Right? Like how you said, like, "I just was in denial and I just kept going." Or whether we numb it with drugs or alcohol or like another relationship, that's something because we get pissed off. Why me? Why did I get this? And we start pointing fingers like, "Whoa, my friend over here has sex with everybody and she doesn't have it. Or my friend over here, he blah, blah, blah, blah, and he doesn't have it. Why did I get it?" And we're totally in absolute, like you said, absolute denial of or, or just not, or not wanting to accept it or trying to fight it.

Jenna: Right. And I think the, the reason I was so angry about it was because I, I felt like I did everything right when it came to me sleeping with him, like I said, he was somebody who I was kind of dating a little bit. I would say maybe about six weeks we were talking and we had the STD talk. I asked him if he'd ever been tested and he said yes. We used condoms. And somehow I still managed to get it. I, I don't know. I, I just can't, I can't really explain it. I mean, I still, I still got it so because I, I felt like I did everything right. You know, I had a lot of animosity about it in the beginning, but then I don't know, something just kind of shifted in me around year three, but it definitely took a long time, like it wasn't, it wasn't something that was just, okay, this is what I have. Like I'm cool. Like it wasn't like that at all. Like it took me a really long time.

Alexandra: I think that's typical and very healthy and very normal for everybody. I mean, same, same here. It wasn't like, Oh, let me go share the world that I have herpes. Like just like I got diagnosed and let me share, like I, I completely agree. And, and may ask, how old were you when you were diagnosed?

Jenna: I was 28.

Alexandra: Okay. Me too. So when you're in that 28, 29, 30 for those of you that have not turned 30 yet, something just clicks in your mind at 29. I don't know what happens, but you're like, I'm turning 30. I've got to get this together. So that happened to you?

Jenna: Yeah, it did. Yep. And honestly, like, I think what I really just sort of figured out was that being angry about having it doesn't change the fact that I have it. You know, like I can sit there and I could be angry, but at the end of the day, like it's not going to, it's not going to make it go away. It's not going to cure the disease. So I think when I started to have that perspective shift, I started to be more accepting of it and you know--

Alexandra: How did you transform that from "I'm angry." to "I have to accept it." Were there any rituals you did or were there, it was like, there are books that you read or was there just like, did you have a dream one night? Like what?

Jenna: No, it was a process. And like I said before, I, I really kind of cut off dating and having sex for awhile. And I just really started, what I kind of did was I started to sort of date myself. I know that sounds silly, but you know, all the times that I wanted to like go out on dates, I would be like, well, I'm just going to, I'm going to take myself out on a date. I'm going to go have dinner by myself. I'm going to go to the movies by myself, like, and I would really try to spend that quality time with myself to try to learn how to re-love myself. And you know, I've got to say, I remember you saying one time in one of your podcasts, what was it that you said. That it was sort of like a bittersweet thing or that you found a silver lining and that's really what I tried to do. Try to find a silver lining. Like, why did I get it out of all the people who don't have it, why did I get it? You know, instead of the why me, like I, I wish I didn't, I sort of change it into like, well, why me? You know, because I felt like there was a reason. Yeah.

Alexandra: Sorry, what do I need to learn?

Jenna: Right, exactly. Yeah. So I try to really focus on the lesson that I can take away from getting it, because again, know I feel like perspective has a lot to do with how you deal with the diagnosis, you know? Because a lot of times what I hear or read from members in the secret society is that you know, they just can't move past it. You know, and I, oftentimes trying to, I mean in private messages, like I'll sit there and I'll tell them like, you know, just try to figure out like what you can do to work through it. Like being angry doesn't change it. You know, and that's kind of, that's kind of how I just worked through it. And then once I felt like I can say the word herpes out loud because I couldn't even say it, like I couldn't even, I would say, Oh yeah, like I have STD too. You know, I couldn't even say the word herpes because I was just so, it felt so dirty and gross coming out of my mouth, you know.

Alexandra: It will, because that's the side that's, that's the stigma, right? It's like, I think of the stigma as, as like the big bad wolf or like this young cloud or like this mystical villain. Doing around trying to feel bad and yeah, we're, we and we, I will, I'll speak for myself. I played into it prior to being diagnosed with herpes. I made fun of people with herpes.

Jenna: Right. Me too.

Alexandra: I made fun of people with STDs. I was like, what? Like right to be, have safe sex, you know what I mean? I played out just like, yeah, we, we, I think we all did because it's, let's face it, the jokes can be funny.

Jenna: Yeah. I mean some of them, ones that are in movies are hilarious, like you can't, you can't help but laugh until you're sort of the punchline of the joke. And then it's kind of like, ouch.

Alexandra: And then you realize like, Oh, wait, like you're laughing and you're like, Oh, but that's actually about me.

Jenna: Right. Yup.

Alexandra: But yeah.

Jenna: So the stigma is very much a real thing. And when I found out, when I finally felt comfortable enough to like share the information with my closest friends that I had it, I started off by telling my, my best friend and she lived in a different state because I was living in a different state. And, and she kind of, I mean I love her to death and she and I talk very openly about it with her now. But at the time, you know, five years ago, she really, she has, she has HSV one, like she gets cold sores on her mouth, but she was very much like, Oh well you have the, you have the sexual crimes, you know, and it hurts, you know, and I was, and so it wasn't until actually I listened to your podcast and join the secret society and started informing myself a little bit more that then I was sort of able to like rebuttal those things because they're not actually different at all, you know? And she just came over yesterday and asked me for her some bowel shots because she broke out in a cold sore, you know, it's the same. It's the same thing. Same exact thing, but for some reason it's just more frowned upon when you, when you have it in a different place. You know, it's like, you know, I get it genitally, it makes me, yeah, exactly. But it's the same. It's the same condition.

Alexandra: People can get oral herpes like, you know, HSV one from having sex too, right? But because it's oral herpes. And we make it okay. And everybody has oral herpes, it feels like, right? It's okay. You're not a bad person. They still, it still sucks they get an outbreak. Right? But you're not a bad person. You're not dirty. You didn't do anything wrong. Yeah. Even though, even though, and I want to go back to what you were saying too, because this is so crucial with practicing safe sex or feeling like you did nothing wrong. You did everything right. How did you get herpes? And it's true, we all have this idea in our head of if I do A, B, C, and D, then this will not happen. And so whatever that, so you said, you know, I dated this guy for six weeks, like that sounds, that's if you're dating, you won't get herpes. It's when you have one night stands, you get herpes. It's all these little ifs or thens, which are all false. You know? Oh well that was from my boyfriend. Or like he's my boyfriend or he's my girlfriend, or sorry, she's my girlfriend. So I won't get herpes from a girl from a committed relationship. We had the sex talk. So I, we had, we had the sex talk like right. We're responsible. That's another thing that's false or that is misleading. And like you said, you know, we used condoms. Great, yeah, we use condoms. Okay. So like you're saying, I did everything right. How did this happen? And the thing that's so frustrating for you, for me, for a lot of other people that are diagnosed, it's like, "Oh, I didn't know herpes wasn't included in the STD panel."

Jenna: Yeah. I had no idea that it wasn't. Because I've been, I mean, I regularly get checked for STDs. I get my yearly pap smear done. And I usually ask for the STD screens at that time. And I mean, I had no idea that it wasn't a part of a part of it, you know? And so when you're meeting somebody and your, as you're having the STD talk and you say, "Hey, do you have any, like, have you been checked before?" And they say yes, like you don't, think to specifically say like by the way, like have you been tested for herpes? Have you been tested for HIV, like you know, you don't specifically list out the different STDs. Like you just ask if they've been checked for STDs and they say yes or no and then you kind of go from there. So, yeah, I had no idea that it wasn't included. Now I know and now I inform people to get, you know, when they tell me that they want to get STD screens, then I always make sure that they ask for, you know, to be tested for herpes. But unfortunately, I actually, the same person who I, who came over and got called [inaudible] for me yesterday, you know, she gets tested too and the doctor wouldn't even give her the STD or I mean, when even give her the screening for herpes because she didn't have an outbreak. She didn't like, there was no reason to test for it.

Alexandra: You know, I've had that in the in the past, but before I had herpes, I had that too. I was like, no, but I want it. And they're like, but you don't have an outbreak. And I was like, so? I want it. And then they're like, have you been exposed to anybody? I'm like, I don't know. That's why I'm here.

Jenna: Right, exactly.

Alexandra: I don't know.

Jenna: [crosstalk] get tested for it.

Alexandra: They do. I'm like, if I knew I wouldn't be here. That's why I'm here. Yeah. That's really interesting. Yeah. You do have to ask for it. You do have to fight for it. You have to have a reason for it. That is really interesting that your friends, yeah, it just goes back to-- and I don't know what is right or wrong here. Like we either as a society need to say, "Hey, just like don't test it and just as soon you're going to get it." You know what I mean? Like just, it's like a chronic cold. Like just assume that during the cold and flu season you're going to get a cold. Like it just really hard to avoid. So either as a society we just need to accept it or we need to be, all of us need to be educated and adamant about, no, this is what I'm going to do and this is what I'm asking and this is what's going to happen. And we required of our partners. And the other thing that really gets me to back to oral herpes is oral sex is, in my opinion, far more dangerous than vaginal sex because with vaginal sex we most, I mean we're taught to use condoms. Oral sex, it's like, "Oh, I don't have a condom." "Okay, well we'll just have oral sex." Would you can get the exact same STDs. We're just, and we don't know that. We're like, it wasn't sex. I didn't have sex.

Jenna: Actually one of my good friends, she, after I started becoming like more open about talking about it, she actually then also disclosed to me that she also had herpes and she told me basically that her story was her boyfriend of like three years or, I mean they were together for awhile. He performed oral sex on her and she ended up getting herpes. And, later, I mean she asked him about it and he, he said that like, he sometimes gets cold sores, but at the time that he did that, like he didn't have a cold sore, so there was even no indication that like, I mean obviously if you had a cold sore then that probably wouldn't have happened and they probably wouldn't have done that. But, he wasn't, he didn't have an outbreak, so--

Alexandra: He didn't know any better.

Jenna: Yeah, yeah.

Alexandra: Yeah. And, and that's a thing. People with oral herpes a lot of times don't know that it's herpes.

Jenna: Yup. And they say it's a fever or that it's a cold sore, but it's the same thing. It's the same thing. It just makes me so mad when people say that because it's the same thing.

Alexandra: And I've been guilty of that too, because I have both. And when I was first diagnosed with oral herpes, I was like, but it's the good kind. You know, like I'm guilty of it too, or like, "Oh well it's no big." Please like it's not, it's not a big deal. Like everybody has it. Like it's not that kind. I didn't get it doing anything wrong, you know, like I totally played into it. I want to go back to you being empowered and I'm going to ask you so I'll use myself for example. When I was diagnosed with herpes, I was in a funk in my life. I was 28 years old. I was living at home because I was in debt and I had to pay my debt off. I was, I had horrible acne, like the kind where like, you could feel your pulse, you know, like you're going to give birth to that, like 28 years old. I was-- it wasn't like binge drinking or anything, but I would drink more than I probably should have. You know, go to the happy hours, you know, nachos, like just, I wasn't treating my body with respect. And I was desperate to find somebody. I was turned 28. I didn't want to be single. I was settling. What I just-- I basically had all these things kind of just, I was stuck. So when I was diagnosed with herpes, it was really, it took awhile, like at least a year. It was my wake up call to get all these things in order, right? Pay off my debt. All these things, figure out my health, figure out my acne, figure out, what I was going to do with dating, all that. So it really transformed a lot of areas in my life. And you are, you were talking about how you feel extremely empowered. You have herpes. So were there other things in your life that were going on that you can attribute, "Hey, because I got herpes. Hey, like, like for me, my acne is gone. I don't have acne anymore. Like I don't have to worry about it anymore," you know? It's a silly one but, but for you, like was there anything that happened, you're like, I got in the best shape of my life or I realize, like you said, I had to date myself. I, so what were some things that potentially other aspects of their life?

Jenna: I think that what I ended up doing for me was it ended up in some weird way, like you would think that, you know, somebody who has it like would have really low self esteem because you kind of get in the mindset like, "Oh my gosh, nobody's ever gonna love me. Nobody's ever going to want to touch me. Like nobody's ever going to want to date me. I'll never be able to share this information with anybody. I'm going to keep it to myself forever." And, but what it ended up doing for me was it was the exact opposite. I had the exact opposite experience and it made me be a little bit more cautious of who I let into my life, which then made me only sort of let quality people into my life. So gone were the days of me just like sort of dating douchebag guys because I didn't feel good about myself. You know, I used to seek validation that way. And then once I got this just, I don't know, I just, it had the opposite effect and it made me just really evaluate the relationships that I had in my life, because I really only wanted to let people in who were going to be uplifting about it, who are going to be positive about it, who are going to not judge me for it. And so, I just, I don't know, I mean, I just really gained a lot of self respect through getting herpes. Like, I don't really know. I feel like that's the silver lining for me. That was the reason I feel like I had to get it in order-- I feel like it was the universe, his way of being like, "Okay, slow down. Like you're going too fast, like hold for a minute and stop and think what you're doing." You know? And that's exactly what happened. And I took some time to myself. I learned how to love myself and you know, even now I just, I'm very mindful of who I let into my life. You know, I can kind of, I'm a really good judge of character and I'm able to kind of read people with it. Like I'll know within the first like a couple of times a meeting people if like there they're going to be good people or the people that, the kind of people that I want in my life. Not saying that, you know, I feel like everybody has good qualities about them, but you know what I mean? Like--

Alexandra: [crosstalk] Someone could be like a good friend for you but not a good friend for me.

Jenna: Yeah, exactly. Totally. So I just feel like I gained a lot true catching herpes and, you know, at this point and time, like if I could go back and like redo the situation over again and like not sleep with him and like, you know, I probably wouldn't. Well, I mean, I probably wouldn't, I probably wouldn't change the situation like I if yeah. I mean, it's very bittersweet. It's very bittersweet. I mean I don't wish people have this condition obviously, but I feel like for me it was sort of a transformative moment because it just helped me kind of refocus the direction in which my life is going, if that makes sense.

Alexandra: That's huge. I love that. I love-- you've really come full circle and that's really not to use the word empowering again, but if some, whoever's listening that was just diagnosed or is just newly in this and they're like, yeah, right. Like, yeah, right. This is going to be good news. You know, like my life is over. Just to hear somebody else say that like, Hey, I wouldn't change it. I would still sleep with this guy. I still would get herpes because it really for the better changed my life. I love that.

Jenna: And some people, I mean, some people would go through these phases of it a little bit longer than others. You know, it's, I mean every, it's everybody's each individual experience. But what, like I said, what really helped me was just sort of putting my dating life on the back burner for a little bit and taking time to really process the information and figure out like what I needed to do to make sure that I was taking the best care of my body because now that I had this condition, I didn't, I know that you've done podcasts, where you talk about like how certain foods trigger outbreaks and you know, there's, yeah. There's just certain foods, eggplant, that was one of the ones that you said, you know?

Alexandra: You too?

Jenna: Yeah. Just someone else. Yeah. So I try to stay away from, from like foods that will trigger it. I don't know, I just started really trying to take care of myself better. And aside from just learning to love myself, it was also like I started working out more and I started, I just started doing things that were going to make me feel good. That was just the bottom line was like, okay, this at the end of the day is this going to make me feel good, you know? And if I didn't feel like it was going to make me feel good, then I wouldn't do it because also stress can trigger an outbreak. And so I was trying to, I was trying to live as much of a stress-free life as I could.

Alexandra: I love it. It's so interesting. So I have a YouTube video, coming out and basically everything you just said is like what I say in the YouTube video. It's like, it was like literally word for word. It's almost like I gave you the template and a couple of things. Yeah. And a couple of the things I talk about with, with like how herpes can empower you is like you get to choose who's in your life. It forces you to stand up for yourself. And that's one of the things I really harp on is like it forces you to like know your self-worth. First, when you're diagnosed and chances are prior to being diagnosed, you may not have noticed it. I'll speak for myself is I, a lot of times, didn't feel equal or like my self-confidence is a little bit lower or again, I was just desperate to find somebody. I didn't want to be single and being diagnosed with herpes you're like, "Oh no, no, no, no." I, well at first I definitely took a second, like the backseat of the on the bus or like a second class citizen type of mentality. But then I realized like, "Oh no no no no no." like I am an equal to you. Just because I have herpes does not make me less eligible, does not make me less desirable, does not make me less any of those things. Right? Yeah, that's basically, you basically hit all my key points, YouTube video.

Jenna: And I will say what wasn't helpful was when I first was diagnosed was getting on Google and like googling pictures or like reading forums. That was something that I actually did in the beginning. Like, once I found out that I was diagnosed, I would read these forums and it would be all these awful people, like, you know, talking about how their world is over. And it was so depressing. I just, and I would read all these people's like, comment. I mean I would spend hours sometimes I became a little bit obsessive about it. And then finally I just, I had to stop because like it was, it was sending me into a depression and I just knew that it wasn't healthy for me, so I just really tried to stay away from Google when I was first diagnosed. So, you know, if I could give any advice to anybody, yeah. If I could give any advice to anybody, it would be to stay off Google because there is so much inaccurate information out there regarding it.

Alexandra: Yes, there is. And like you said, there's a lot of people who are sucked into the downside of it. And that's one thing I can say about our community, the life of secret society. I really feel that the people in there are happy people. Like they're, they're working through, yeah, the devastation of a diagnosis. And I-- we've all been there, but I really do feel like our community is overall a happy, positive. You know, like when somebody's down, we all jump in and we're like "It's okay. Let's fix this. Okay. You made it through the day you went to work. Awesome." Like, you know, like we're all there to support and, and this, this is not like, I wasn't planning to plug this by any means, but you know, just saying that is like, are there places I'll go now and I'll jump on. I'm like, "Oh, I feel dirty being on there." Or I feel depressed. And luckily for me, when in 2011 we didn't have this, like Facebook was still new, you know what I mean? This stuff didn't really, there weren't really forums. There weren't, it was just Google and Google was hella scary. So don't go to Google.

Jenna: Don't go to Google. Well, yeah, I mean the community, I feel like I'm being a part of the secret society. I guess I found out about it last year through your podcast because I definitely listened to your podcast for a while before I joined the secret society. But by the time I had joined the secret society, I kind of was already in a good place emotionally about it. But I felt like, you know, just having the support would be beneficial because everybody has their bad days. You know, I mean don't get me wrong. I am generally like, you know generally I'm fine with this condition, I sometimes I have bad days, you know, and sometimes it gets heavy on my mind and sometimes you just need an outlet. And I feel like the secret society has been really beneficial in that aspect. You know, I tried to be uplifting to other people in there, but there have been times where I posted and I've needed support myself and everybody is just so friendly and like a lot of us are anonymous on there and so you don't even need to have a picture. And people will still comment and people will still, lift you up and people, I mean it's great. I love, I love that you created that, honestly, because it's such a good space.

Alexandra: Thank you. I'm so happy to hear it because I feel the same way, same way about it. You know, like I just, yeah, everybody is, is there and supportive and checking up on you and-- Like I myself, there's days-- right now, I'm pregnant and I've had outbreak after outbreak after outbreak and I'm like, what is going on? You know, I didn't have outbreaks for months. And now. And so I get it. Like it gets frustrating, so tired of this. I get it. So I get that we all have our days or we all have our moments or like, you know, whatever. It's, it's just part of life. It's a little trigger and, but we know now how to squash it or accept it and go, okay, that's all it is and I'm going to move on. So I want to thank you, Jenna, for joining us today. It has been so awesome. I know it is scary to be vulnerable. It's scary to put your story out there. Trust me, I know. But, having you share your specific diagnosis story, you know, you share how you've grown and you feel empowered and how it's really changed your life. And I really think the key thing that you said is I wouldn't go back and change it. I wouldn't. It was my destiny and I've grown from it.

Jenna: Yeah, yeah I just know, I feel like I probably would've ended up spiraling. Like I probably would've ended up on this destructive path because that's kind of where I was going, kind of like you said, I didn't have a lot of self-worth and I had low self-esteem. And I feel like once I got it, instead of it contributing to even more low self-esteem, it did the opposite and it made me really confident and it made me resilient and it made me reevaluate the types of people and things that I was letting into my life. So I-- why would I change it? You know, why would I go back and want to not have this condition and lose all the things that I've gained from having it, you know? I just, I wouldn't.

Alexandra: Great. Awesome. That is great to hear. That's the most empowering, inspiring thing I've heard. Thank you for being here.

Jenna: You're welcome.

Alexandra: I really appreciate it. And like I mentioned earlier about the YouTube video that Jenna just basically hit all my bullet points. So you, guys, want to watch it, it's called like, I think it's like three things that empower you getting herpes. So yeah, check it out and it'll be great leeway into this interview. And of course we've been talking about the secret society, so if you don't know what it is, that it is an online community where we have hundreds of people throughout the world, different languages, different time zones, different cultures, which I think is also really cool. And it's secret and it's just an opportunity for you to get resources, get help, get hands and just find some reprieve from all the icky stuff out there.

Jenna: Exactly.

Alexandra: All right. So I will see you all soon. In the next episode, and I'll talk to you soon. Go to lifewithherpes.com for more information and I'll see you all soon. Bye.

Jenna: Bye.


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