Dealing with Herpes Anxiety: 3 Tips
This is a question I get almost daily. I either get DM’s, or it’s posted in our Secret Society Support Group, or you guys comment on my posts. The aftermath of being diagnosed with herpes is real.
Firstly let’s talk about anxiety. What is it?
Experiencing anxiety here and there is 100% normal. We have times that we are freaking out. For example;, we can have anxiety of taking a final exam because if we don’t get a certain grade the we won't pass and then we won't graduate because we have to take the class over again. Or we’re interviewing for a really important job and there’s a lot of money on the table that will change your family's future, or maybe you’ve experience extreme loss. These are all examples that we will probably all go through in life.
When I researched the word anxiety this is what I got back; Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
Anxiety and depression were once explained to me by my friend's dad, a psychologist, that anxiety and depression are similar and a normal part of life. He explained it like taking a roller-coaster ride, there are little dips and highs here and there and that is a normal part of life and we need to experience it. When it becomes a problem and professional help should be sought out is when there are the really big huge dips and the really high highs. This part is terrifying and when we need to look at seeking help. That is anxiety disorders or depression.
You can google ways to deal with anxiety and there are some great suggestions that come up like: staying active, limiting caffeine and alcohol, spending time outside, get plenty of sleep, diet and exercise, meditation and even breathing exercises. (source) All of these are great to take inventory on in your life. But I know you are asking me specifically with herpes.
So here are some tips I’ve learned over the years with dealing with herpes outbreaks.
The first question to ask yourself is what am I afraid of? Is it a herpes outbreak? Is it that I have herpes? Is it that I have to disclose it to someone? Really dig deep and find out what the main pain point is. This might come to you quickly or you might need to set aside some journaling time.
Then the next question to ask yourself is what is the worst thing that can happen if that happens?
I used to have a fear that I’d leave the house and that I didn’t lock the house or that I’d forget to put the garage door down. I’d leave the house and then drive back because anxiety would kick in and I’d begin to panic. In order for me to break this thought process I had to walk through the steps of the what ifs, and the what if nots. What would happen if I didn’t lock the house, someone might break in and steal something but then I’d dig deeper and think what does that look like and so on.
I’m sharing this with you so that you can start to look at what really happens if your …”insert you worst fear”... sets in.
The next step that is helpful with dealing with herpes anxiety is to start scheduling your stress. I’m sure you’re thinking, what? Yep, I want you to schedule when you’re going to freak out. This technique is used a lot when it comes to time management and time blocking. Our brains work so much better when we are not multitasking and trying to do 100 things at once. So what is super helpful is if you set a time to worry or freak out about having herpes. So if you’re newly diagnosed you might need more time and if you’re just having spats here and there you might need less time. Maybe it’s an hour a day that you give yourself to freak out. Put it in your calendar, set your timer and then go. Freak out and google whatever you want, worry about whatever you want, stress all you want! What I tell people in our Emergency Call sessions is to keep an open notepad on your phone where you can put the thoughts that come to your head throughout the day then when it’s time to stress you can pull it up and have a hayday.
What will end up happening is your hour will become 45 minutes and then that will become 30 minutes and so on. Eventually it won’t be daily but once a week and then eventually it will only pop up here and there. This is such a great tool to use when you realize that something is controlling your life and you’re not able to function properly. Of course, if you feel like your anxiety or depression is something bigger please, please get help. Here’s the suicide hotline 800-273-8255.
One of the things that is super helpful when it comes to feeling alone or like nobody understands what you are going through is to find a support group or find a community. That is why I created the Life With Herpes Secret Society. It’s our secret online community filled with people from all walks of life and all over the world. We all get what post herpes diagnosis anxiety feels like and we can hand hold you through it. We have 2 live support group calls a week and much more. Here’s the link for you to join and come say hi.