Herpes Nation Newsletter Volume One, Edition Seven
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You Don’t Have to Suffer This Winter
by Christopher Scipio

Three years ago I developed the Milena Cold and Flu Formula to deal with the increasing numbers of people suffering from colds and flu every winter. The Milena Cold and Flu Formula combines Lomatium Dissectum, Linden Flowers, Boneset, Elderberries and Flowers and a proprietary Botanical Anti-Viral Complex. All the ingredients in the formula are hand-prepared and hand-formulated in small batches in powerful tinctures of overproof rum and sake. All the ingredients have been clinically proven to boost the immune system and significantly speed up the healing process with Colds and Flus. I personally guarantee that the effectiveness of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula will help you heal faster from a Cold or Flu and lessen the severity of all accompanying symptoms . But the real power of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula is its ability to help prevent a Cold or Flu. Taken as directed at the first sign of any Cold and Flu and there’s a good chance that you may avoid becoming ill in the first place. Contact me at info at natropractica.com to order yours.

Write your own story
By Nancy Olson

I just read a novel about herpes. That’s right. A novel. Before you get too excited, I should tell you that it was bad. Real bad.

Three Years ago I developed the Milena Cold and Flu Formula to deal with the increasing numbers of people suffering from colds and flu every winter. The Milena Cold and Flu Formula combines Lomatium Dissectum, Linden Flowers, Boneset, Elderberries and Flowers and a proprietary Botanical Anti-Viral Complex. All the ingredients in the formula are hand-prepared and hand-formulated in small batches in powerful tinctures of overproof rum and sake. All the ingredients have been clinically proven to boost the immune system and significantly speed up the healing process with Colds and Flus. I personally guarantee that the effectiveness of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula will help you heal faster from a Cold or Flu and lessen the severity of all accompanying symptoms . But the real power of the Milena Cold and Flu Formula is its ability to help prevent a Cold or Flu. Taken as directed at the first sign of any Cold and Flu and there’s a good chance that you may avoid becoming ill in the first place.

It promoted itself as “one woman’s journey to find her true self” but it was far from that. Instead, it traveled a well-worn path of social stigmatization to end at the redemption of a sexually empowered woman by the love of a good man.

If having herpes has taught me anything, it is that there is good in any situation. Even as I read the novel, I revisited questions about the virus that plagues most thoughtful people with the infection – like, what’s the big deal with having herpes anyway? Why is it okay to have a cold sore on your lip caused by the same class of virus, and not okay to have the same sores on your genitals, well tucked away out of view?

For me it all boils down to sex. The fact that genital herpes is transmitted sexually links it to the complex social codes that govern our sexual behaviour. And believe it or not, it seems like even in the 21st century most types of sex are still highly stigmatized. Most importantly for our discussion here is the belief that because you choose to participate in sex the responsibility for having a sexually transmitted infection rests with you, the willing participant. Like all STIs, herpes is considered to be a “stain” that links a person to sexual behaviour that is perceived as “irresponsible”. Sex, and not herpes itself, is the central aspect of herpes-related stigma. I can’t say enough how important understanding this concept has been to me.

The central character of the novel feels a deep sense of sexual shame, largely related to a period of promiscuity in her youth that she suspects led to her infection. As a woman in her mid-thirties, she now feels that herpes has made her untouchable, unmarriageable and irredeemable. Her herpes infection has dealt a blow to her self-esteem that goes beyond guilt. She feels fundamentally dirty, and frequent outbreaks remind her of this fact over and over again. She seems eternally stressed by the shame of her infection and while she does seem to know the connection between stress and denial and herpes outbreaks, she never really discovers the Catch 22 of her situation.

Guilt can be a useful (if sometimes wasted) emotion. It helps us recognize when we have done something that violates our own sense of right and wrong. Guilt is about what we do. Shame is about who we are. If we feel guilty when we indulge in one sexual behaviour and better when we participate in another, what we are experiencing is the boundaries of our own conscience. If we feel ashamed of all the sexual feelings we have, we are experiencing sexual shame. Instead of just feeling guilty when we violate our standards for a healthy sex life, sexual shame causes us to feel evil simply for being sexual at all. And therein lies the challenge for those of us with herpes – how can we reduce sexual shame and fight the double-barrelled stigma of being sexual AND carrying HPV-2?

Shame fills no positive purpose in your life. While guilt can help negotiate the boundaries of our conscience, shame negates who we are and destroys our self-esteem. You need healthy self-esteem in order to function successfully in life and in your relationships, and you need healthy self-esteem to make peace with herpes and the effects it may have on your sex life. So how, you may ask, can we break free from socially imposed concepts of sexual shame to discover our own boundaries and maintain the high levels of self-esteem we need to stay human?

How can we rid ourselves of sexual shame? Sexologist and courtesan Veronica Monet has written at length about this subject, and much of what she recommends can also play an important role in ridding oneself of the self-induced shame of a herpes infection. Monet recommends a three-pronged approach to eliminating sexual shame: re-educate yourself; talk to someone about it; and study the history of sex.

Teach yourself to think differently about sex. Replace those negative messages your internal self-talk sends you about sex and herpes with positive self-talk: “I am a precious person with a normal and healthy desire for a sexual relationship” would be a good place to start. One of the side benefits of replacing the shower of shame we typically inflict on ourselves is that we will begin to behave differently towards ourselves and others. If you truly believe you are precious, you will treat yourself accordingly. Write your affirmations down and keep them handy so you can refer to them when you are feeling overwhelmed. Use creative visualization techniques to picture the beautiful person you are, even as you play host to the herpes virus. Learn to distinguish your inner voice and intuition from your shame and guilt. This is not easy but a perfectly possible and important step away from sexual shame. I find it helpful to take a deep breath, clear my mind of all thoughts and relax into my feelings. When my mind is quiet it is easier to hear my intuition speak to me.

Sharing your shame will also release it. Look for like-minded individuals to make safe disclosures about your viral status is a great way to bust shame. As soon as I started telling my friends and family I have herpes I felt a decrease in the negative energy I had to use to maintain my silence. Seek out a sex-positive community on the internet or a class or group in your community that supports you in your healthy sexuality. If you are too shy to explore these options right now, hire someone to talk to, but shop smart. Not all therapists or sex educators are shame-free.

Learn to see your sexual desires in historical context. Sex was once a celebration of life and a form of worship. It was imbued with healing properties and thought to bring individuals closer to the divine. These beliefs are not unlike the resources naturopathic healers like Christopher Scipio incorporate into their healing regimens. Once you understand that certain of your behaviours were once considered “normal” then you will be gentler with yourself. Regardless of what fundamentalist groups might say, our current moral standards have not always been ascribed to. Sex between strangers CAN be spiritual and fulfilling – it all depends of the intention of the couple. Superficial sex can be perfectly healthy and fulfilling, not to mention fun. Just remember that all sex, respectfully practiced in honesty and safety, can bring us closer to ourselves, each other, and spirituality. When the Goddess of Love was still honoured, the sacred prostitute was … a person of deep integrity whose welcome for the stranger was radiant, self-confident and sensuous. Her raison d’être was to bring the goddess’ love into direct contact with mankind “. . . the personal was transcended and the divine entered in. In those days, human sexuality and the religious attitude were inseparable.” (The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine by Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Inner City Books 1988.)

I am not ashamed of my sexuality and I am not ashamed to have herpes. Even if I choose from time to time to protect myself from the disapproval of unenlightened individuals, I am proud of the work I have done to escape the sexual shame that could accompany the infection. Unlike the protagonist of the book I just finished, I have never used unprotected sex as a weapon and I have never had sex in a relationship without disclosing my STI status. And as a sex worker, I am confident that using anti-viral gel and condoms makes me a much safer bet than casual sex partners who may not disclose their status or even know they are infected.

So what did I learn from the one and only novel I have found that features the herpes virus as antagonist? I was reminded that sexual shame (and even guilt) is a misplaced emotion and I was reassured that some people have come a long way towards reducing the stigma of herpes. It’s just too bad that the character in the novel wasn’t one of them. Guess I’ll just have to write my own book.

Self-Portait
by Melissa Breault

I am a 28 year old artist and I have genital herpes.

There are a hundred good reasons why I decided to write this today. It will be a little hard for me not to get lost in explanations but I will try to stay pretty clear. First of all, I should probably mention that I am writing all this without any concerns, any shame, and that I actually have a little smile showing through my rested self this morning, probably from realizing for the first time that this whole experience only brought positive things to my life and that I wouldn’t be the one I am right now if this hadn’t happened.

I am part of the scary 60% that has contracted the herpes simplex virus…and for me it was quite a while ago. If HSV is fairly well-known, we sure don’t hear about it very much and nothing close to enough. The only goal I have writing this is to lighten up the subject a little without making it sound like something that should not be taken seriously.

We all go through events and experiences that makes us grow, think, and change. This is part of the beautiful process of becoming someone better, aware, awake and unique. Unfortunately, when you are diagnosed with HSV, all those remarkable things that are about to happen to you are not yet made obvious, especially in front of the white-coated person in front of you with his unsympathetic stare. This would be the last time I would go to a doctor’s office with the expectation of getting any moral support whatsoever.

The first thought I had walking out of the doctor’s office was that our society has really gone cold. The second thought I had was that I was just going to deal with it no problem. Anyone that knows me knows that there is not much that could bring me down. If there is something about me that I love, it’s my incredible positivity and my ability to take the drama out of almost any situation. This one turned out to be a little different. I mostly blame the incredible lack of information we have on the subject and all the prejudices that’s been going on about it

My third though came after realizing that I was not going to get away with it. Never. Herpes is a skin disease that stays with you forever, which makes it pretty interesting when it comes to deciding how to deal with it, since it is not even a question of how to get rid of it.
There are many choices. The most popular one is obviously the one that will make the pharmaceutical industry very happy. There are a few different kinds of medication you can take to suppress the symptoms or shorten the outbreak periods when they occur. They are very expensive and their list of side effects are quite disturbing. But since it was the first thing to try, I tried it. Everyone is looking for that quick-fix pill that’s going to make them feel better about everything and I can understand that. So for six months or so, I used those pills every single day. It’s something you have to do for the rest of your life since it doesn’t improve your health or anything and actually weakens your immune system quite drastically, gives you headaches and nausea. I can deal with quite a bit of pain with no problem. When it comes to putting my health in jeopardy, that’s another story. I threw out my pills and started over.

At this point, I was thinking I’d rather get a little skin rash every once in a while rather than having to deal with being sick all the time because of some unhealthy pills that are messing up my body. But denial has never been my thing and giving up is never an option I usually ever consider. So I started reading everything I could find about that virus I was going to host for as long as I live. I learned everything there is to learn and got to know my guest inside out. This was probably the most illuminating experience of my entire life. I understood and decided that an holistic approach was what would suit me best.

This brought me to the daily practice of Hatha yoga. Yoga tunes you up, balances your body and mind and makes you feel absolutely wonderful about who you are and about people and things around you. It is the beginning of all beginnings. Changing my diet helped a lot too, and so did meditation, self-hypnosis and a little cocktail of vitamin supplements and homeopathic products to improve the functions of the immune system.

The greatest thing I ever understood and accepted was that we were actually going to work together. I was going to be its host, it was going to be my guest and we were not going to fight anymore. The herpes virus is one that stays dormant until it gets triggered. Same with us, we stay cool until something or someone gets on our nerves and then we snap. This thing is no different. So we made a deal. I decided to do everything I could to live a well-balanced life, strengthen my immune system and try to keep my stress level to a minimum at all time. All this to keep my guest at peace, comfortably sleeping and having a good time. It actually agreed that it would stay dormant as long as I don’t look for trouble.

It took us a little over a year to settle our conditions and become friends. One day, I even decided to forgive the one that gave it to me and most importantly forgive myself for contracting it. Since then, I have seen myself change emotionally and physically quite drastically for the better. I haven’t caught a single cold since, I have never loved life more than I do now, I have never felt in better harmony with myself and others than I do now as I am writing this.

I don’t regret any of it. If I had a choice, I would certainly prefer not having to deal with it at all, but this is not a life threatening disease. This is not something to be afraid of. This is certainly not something to be ashamed of. There are some facts that have to be known though. It is a contagious virus that is fairly easily transmitted and always present. That said, being aware, responsible and intelligent about it reduces the risk of transmission of a whole lot and is probably what saved my boyfriend from contracting it in the five years we’ve been together.

I am glad I am now able to write a little bit about it. I now try to inform my friends about it and as many people as I can. I do it because I care, and because I know there are many many people that don’t know how to deal with it and that could use a little support.

Mr. Scipio has been for me a key person in the process. I feel great about everything, and it has been a few months now since I have had any symptoms. I am taking the opportunity here to thank him again for his help and support and dedication in his work.

I would have never thought about drawing a nude of myself before. The whole experience taught me how to respect and take good care of my physical and emotional self, and how to keep it connected harmoniously with my soul. It showed me how together, they all make a whole that makes sense and defines me. I have never felt this good about how I look than now, I have never felt this good about how I feel inside.

Love yourself, be creative and feel good!
Re-educate and Recreate
by Tara Shea Ananda

Several years ago, long before I was diagnosed with herpes, I went to a lecture to see a most unusual and eccentric genius. He was a British doctor who created a technology, that according to him was capable of taking unhealthy cells and changing their frequency – or electromagnetic field – to a healthy state by using sound waves. Cancer was a repeated example amongst other suggestions including bacteria and neurological disorders. The doctor did not believe in killing cancer cells. He did not believe in killing dangerous bacteria; he had compassion for ALL living things, including cells suffering from dysfunction, including bacteria, including viruses. Over the years this message of re-creating and re-educating an ailing body back to a frequency where only peace and enjoyable health are the outcome has stayed well in my awareness.

Taking responsibility for my own health is not a new concept. I grew up with vitamins, juicing, chiropractics, yoga and meditation. When the herpes became unbearable, I dug my heels in deeper in resistance to the symptoms. Sometimes, the discomfort would wake me in the middle of the night and I would launch into affirmations and prayers. That alone wasn’t helping enough. Vitamin therapy was helping too, just not enough. Same goes for acupuncture, chiropractics, “positive thinking” and diet; I was still missing a very significant piece.

Upon reading the Herpes Nation blogs and “Peace With Herpes” by Christopher Scipio I realized what was missing in my healing process – an amicable relationship with the virus itself. Christopher reminds us that the herpes virus is ancient; it has been on this planet long before we came out of the garden. The virus has an intelligence, and a brilliant strategy for survival. It may even be the perfect model for Self Love. When the truth sank into my knowing that the virus prefers to be comfy and tucked away in the ganglion of our nerves, it gave me an idea.

I decided to do a very specific meditation, going deep into my body through the tissues, organs and fibres, deeper through the spinal column and finally into the nerve where the virus lives during more harmonious times. My objective was to respectfully open communication and develop a rapport between guest and hostess. Once I did, I found a living organism with its own set of values and characteristics. I came to call this androgynous being, “Herp.” The second time I went deep within to visit Herp, it was to create a space where the virus would never want to leave and come to the surface.

The herpes virus and I designed a bedroom for it to comfortably reside in. We started with the walls: periwinkle with white trim. “Refreshing,” I thought. Then the virus picked out wall to wall carpeting in a fluffy white shag. “Surprising,” I responded to the selection and include it in the periwinkle room with white trim.

“What kind of bed?” I asked. It said, “Remember those ‘Floating Beds’ you saw online a couple months ago?,” I nearly forgot about those completely, they’re really cool, circular shaped and suspend from the ceiling. “Yyyyes,” I slowly answered as I was recalling. “One of those. Big. With mosquito netting.” “Very cool. Done,” I said. “And a simple three-drawer nightstand. Square and white with a shelf underneath to keep my books nearby.” “Practical,” I thought. Then I stared to ask, “Art…. what about …” Before I could finish my question, Herp said, “Wassily Kadinsky. One of those with the pastel colors from later in his career.” “Wow. Good taste,” I said.

Ok. So we’ve got periwinkle walls with white trim. A fluffy white shag carpet. A floating suspension bed with white mosquito netting and Wassily Kadinsky on the wall. “What about entertainment? Do you want a TV anywhere?” “Yes,” Herp said, “but tucked away in a large, paneled armoire. Citron.” “Citron??” I questioned. “Yeah, just pull the color from the Kadinsky piece.” “Oh. Okay.” I said. I couldn’t believe that I was being schooled and out-designed by a virus. “There will be room in the armoire to include an X Box and Wii,” Herp continued, “I especially want the Wii so I can do things like tennis, bowling, yoga and skiing.” “Anything you want, Sweetie,” I assured.

“And the windows? What do you want to cover the windows?” My professional suggestion was pull-down shades and soft, white, flowing drapes with pewter hardware. Herp snubbed my suggestion. “White painted, wooden shutters that open and close completely. The kind that has slits that go up and down to allow in or block out light.” This wasn’t my first alternate choice, but then again, it isn’t my room. It’s all for my little virus.

“Now for the most important element in designing a room – lighting!” I reminded. The wise and clever virus that lives inside me said, “I would rather keep that natural. I will be awakened joyfully by the smiling sun and rest when it’s dark under the night-light of the moon.” “I am proud of you,” I told my little virus.

Together we scanned the room. Then I tucked it in to its floating bed and said, “I will take care of you and keep you comfortable. Ring this bell if you need me before my next visit.” I placed a polished silver bell on the white night stand. “You have designed a beautiful space. Enjoy it and know that we can change it anytime you like. Sweet dreams, Little One.”

Taking responsibility has never felt so good. I now have open communication with Herp. The virus has been radically quieted by Christopher Scipio’s magnificent formulas and is comforted by my compassionate nurturing. This I know…I can feel it on the cellular level. A once unruly, cranky and frustrated virus that wreaked havoc on my nerve cells has been re-created and re-educated. We, that is Herp and I, now resonate at healthier frequencies and know to how to get what we both want without creating disharmony.

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