Herpes healing process: The 5 stages

When you first get genital herpes, a process begins. This is the well-known Kübler-Ross grief cycle and applies to anyone who has been impacted by a life-changing circumstance, everything from people dying of cancer to people like us dealing with the ramifications of an incurable STD. (Also, read The herpes self-acceptance process.)

Onto the 5 stages of herpes healing …

1. Denial: a temporary defense for feeling
“I don’t really have herpes. The test was wrong.”
[after an initial herpes outbreak] “That was just razor burn.”

2. Anger: you recognize denial can’t continue
“Why was I such an idiot to have sex with that person?”
“I hate the person who gave this to me. They should pay for doing this to me.”
(victim mentality)

3. Bargaining: hope that you can change what can’t be changed
“You know, a
cure for herpes has to be right around the corner. Medicine is advancing in leaps and bounds.”
[talking to a higher power] “I promise if I don’t actually have herpes that I won’t have questionable sex with anyone ever again.”
Do you find yourself hoping to change what can’t be changed? (Read this post on serenity.)

4. Depression: giving in, letting go of unrealistic hope that’s holding you back from what is, shedding old belief patterns
“What’s the point? Why bother? There’s no hope.”
This might translate to a feeling of being shut down, numbness, maybe crying, grieving, feeling loss.

5. Acceptance: come to terms with what herpes means in your life, and that who you are is more important than what you have
“Herpes is just something that I will deal with in my life. It’s actually not as bad as I ever imagined. I can move on and live my life. It’s going to be okay. I am okay. I am worthy.”

Please note:

  • These stages don’t have to occur in order.
  • These stages can be skipped/revisited.
  • These stages shouldn’t be forced.
  • Simply notice where you are right now.

So, what stage are you in now? Notice that without shaming it or judging it. Don’t use the awareness of these stages to further shame or judge yourself and your personal process. Just notice and allow yourself to be in the process of healing. Take care of yourself and show yourself radical self-love.

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