How To Take Care of Your Mental Health After STD Diagnosis
By Alicia Knox
Getting the courage to stand up and admit to yourself that you have to get tested for STD/STI is one thing; and waiting for the results is another. But it is definitely a whole different level when you finally see that tough 8-letter word on your test results – POSITIVE.
Although there are different types of sexually transmitted diseases and not all are as serious as the others, the truth is, all of them still carry a degree of stigma and shame. As a result, regardless if you have a curable or a chronic STD, and even if you decided not to tell a single soul about it, it may still cause you to feel bad about yourself and a little concerned.
As you confront any shame or guilt you may feel, know that it’s possible for you to develop depression and other types of mental health problems as you go on. In fact, there are a lot of STD patients who go through stress, depression, anxiety and other issues without them knowing.
We understand that you’re focused now on improving your physical health on your way to treatment and recovery; and chances are, all you keep in mind are your doctor’s orders. But, you also need to know that taking care of your mental health is just as important.
We have some tips to help you deal with any depression or anxiety as you treat or manage your STD/STI.
FEED YOUR MIND.
This is a great first thing you should do after getting the ‘bad news’. Educate yourself about your disease. Knowing the ins and outs of your particular STD will benefit not only you but the people around you as well, especially if you’re in a relationship. Here’s a good place to start – and talking to a knowledgeable health care provider can be great, too.
Learn about the best ways to address your STD, how you got it, and how you can prevent spreading to others in your life.
By doing so, you don’t only protect your current and future partners from getting the disease, but you also get to educate your friends and family, if in case you choose to tell them about it.
Bottomline is, by feeding your mind with facts and deeper knowledge about the disease, it’ll broaden your understanding and eventually make you feel a little less ashamed of yourself.
GET SUPPORT FROM THOSE THAT MATTER.
People with STIs and STDs (and there are a lot of us) may need advice and support as they progress through it. And though that might be effective for some as sort of a release mechanism, we also have to understand sharing this kind of sensitive information is a hard thing to do. Some even have a hard time admitting it to themselves right? What more if they’re going to admit it to others?
Seek support and talk this through with the people in your life that matter to you the most. There are others who actually avoid their family, closest friends, and loved ones because they fear they can hurt or disappoint them. But it’s important you know it’s their love, their compassion, their care that will help you the most. If you need some help in getting that conversation started, we can help.
Remember, when you’re about to get tested for STDs or even after knowing the diagnosis, try to have people around you that will give you love and support. They can be a source of strength in times like these, helping you to take care of your mental and emotional health.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR FEELINGS.
Bottled up emotions typically don’t lead to good results, that’s for sure. Once you’ve learned that you are STD positive, let your emotions out. It’s healthy! Allow your mind and your heart to process everything. Yep, you need to be strong for yourself and for the people who love you. But you are only human.
If you feel angry or frustrated, let it out (but not on other people). Punch or yell into a pillow. Stomp your feet. If you feel sad, cry it all out. Don’t pressure yourself to being ‘okay’ or positive-minded right away once you hear the bad news. Because that is never normal.
Give yourself some time and allow the whole process to take its course. The best way to keep a good mental and emotional health is to nurture your feelings, not controlling, stifling or hiding them.
KEEP DOING WHAT YOU LOVE.
Don’t stop your whole life while you’re getting treated. After allowing yourself to be sad or disappointed, get going on the the next steps.
Remember this: keeping on with your life, doing all the things that you enjoy doing can help you breeze through your disease. By keeping active, you do not only take your mind off the issue, but it also lifts your mood, increases your energy levels, helps you gain appetite, and improves your quality of sleep as well.
Keep in mind that positive energy is generally effective for helping cure a disease, not only STD. And doing the things you love – whether it’s boarding, singing, working out, or walking your dog – will definitely boost your whole system.
At the end of the day, we all know being diagnosed and battling with an STD is never an easy thing. But it’s important to know you can do something about it. These tips can help you be okay. You can, and you will be better.
And, just in case you’re reading this article now but still aren’t sure you really have an STD or not, the very first thing you need to do is have courage. Don’t make your situation worse by delaying having a test. There are a lot of convenient ways available to know if you have STD or you can make an appointment with a knowledgeable health care provider (find one here). Don’t stress yourself out any further and take that test now.
Alicia Knox is a health and wellness writer for AtHomeStdTest.com, a website that talks about STD and how to get tested at home using medical kits.
December 6, 2018