Finding out that you have herpes can be a confusing time; especially if you have contracted genital herpes. You may be experiencing a mix of emotions: fear, confusion, embarrassment and more. One way to help combat these feelings and learn to live with the disorder (as well as learn more about it), is to seek support from other disease victims.
There are lots of different kinds of herpes support groups to choose from. Regardless of where you live, there is help available if you are willing to look for it.
Online Support Groups
For some people, talking about your private health issues (like herpes) can be a lot easier on the internet than face to face with others you fear will judge you. Plus, it can be easier to open up when you do not have to physically interact with others in the group.
Online support groups are also easier for those whop may live in rural areas; eliminating traveling to meetings and get togethers.
Of course, not all online herpes support groups are equal; some are designed simply to answer medical questions, while others are meant to offer emotional support. Some are monitored by medical personnel and others are not. Some even allow for private chats while a few forbid that type of interaction between members.
When looking for an online support group consider these important questions:
- How much emotional support are you looking for? If you need to talk out your feelings with other participant’s, then look for a group that offers this type of ongoing support. But, if you are strictly looking for place to get answers to your questions about herpes, than do not consider a more verbal “sharing” type fog group. Opt for a more no nonsense information style one instead.
- Do you want to get friendly with participants? Some people want and need to befriend other member’s of their support group in order to feel comfortable enough to share their feelings and concerns. But, many people simply want to participate in a group to help ally their fears and find out how to live with this chronic condition. Choose whichever type of group you feel most comfortable with.
- Do you want (and need) a professional moderator in the group? Many online support groups begin when one or two victims get together to share research, medical information and more. Suddenly, the group grows as more and more people join in on the conversation. This can be a good way to learn about new treatment methods; to debunk many of the myths surrounding herpes and more. Unfortunately, when no medical overseer is put in charge, sometimes the information shared is less than reliable. While working with a group like this is fine as long as you understand that not everyone’s contribution is correct, some people would rather work with a group that has a professional as the moderator and overseer to set the record straight when necessary.
On Site Groups
Although more and more people these days opt to participate in online support groups for many reasons, some people still need that one-on-one interaction in a more personal setting. Face to face support groups are still available at many hospitals and communities throughout the nation. They are usually comprised of some type of professional herpes expert (or social worker/counselor) and a group of victims in need of support and encouragement.
As is the case with the online groups, the environment of any support group really depends on its participants and its leader. Some groups have monthly meetings with speakers who join in to offer information on specific topics; while other groups strictly meet to talk about their experiences with herpes and gain some much needed support form others who understand the ups and downs of dealing with this chronic disease.
In most cases, the meetings are generally informal, giving everyone a chance to ask questions and talk about any issues they may be dealing with in regards to their diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle problems with herpes.
Whenever you are looking for a support group, be sure to consider your own personality and look for a group that best meets your needs and comfort level. Remember, herpes is a very personal disease and if you are strictly looking for information and do not want “to share” your feelings bout your diagnosis, a very chatty and emotionally driven group may not be your best choice.
Finding Herpes Support Groups in Your Area
If you are lucky enough to live in or near a large city with several medical centers, the odds are good that you will be able to find more than one herpes support group to choose from. Those living in more rural areas may have to look a little harder or even travel to find a group that meets in person. In this case, an online support group may be a better alternative.
So, where can you find a herpes support group to join? Here are a few suggestions:
- Call your local hospital – most large scale hospitals have an entire department dedicated to ongoing education for health related issues, including support groups. One call to your local medical center or community hospital may put you in touch with a group in your area.
- Contact the local community center. Some community centers either organize their own support groups for all kinds of issues people in their community face everyday, or they rent out space in their facility for outside groups to meet. Either way, their community relations office should have a list of support groups held at the center and can give you the information you seek.
- Try your favorite search engine. Google is just one way to locate all kinds of support groups in your area. Simply type in herpes support groups in (your city) and see what pops up – you may be surprised at how much information is available with one simple search.
- Try these websites. When trying to find herpes support, contact these websites and organizations for help:
- www.herpes.coldsores.com : this website offers information on social and support groups for herpes victims by state and county.
- www.datingwithherpes.org : this helpful websites offers all kinds of information for herpes patients including research reports, treatment options and yes, support group information.
- www.supportgroups.com : not just a site for herpes support, but for helping patients of all kinds of diseases and disorders find the help and support they need, this resource is a great place to begin a search for herpes support groups nationwide.
Living with herpes does not have to be a solitary thing. There are millions of people working through thee exact same emotions and health issues regarding their diagnosis, so why not reach out to other herpes victims for the support and encouragement you all need? Find a support group that you can trust and break free from the stigma of a herpes diagnosis.