Herpes and Learned Helplessness
Last week was a mixed bag of emotions for my family. We had to euthanize our pet hamster, Cocoa, and say goodbye to our cute little buddy.
As I pulled into our driveway with tears in my eyes, my daughter begged me to to turn around and head to Petsmart to shop for a new “Cocoa”.
Our hearts were heavy as we walked into the store and I truly wondered if we could find another hamster as mellow and well behaved as Cocoa.
Instead of B-lining it to the hamster section, Maddie and I took a detour to the new pets up for adoption from the Dumb Friends League.
Before I knew it, we found ourselves falling in love with a Lionshead rabbit, who had been surrendered by another family.
Just one week before, my aunt had send me a youtube video of a Lionshead rabbit named Wally and I thought he was adorable. Little did I know that I would have one of these furry creatures in my home less than a week later.
It seemed like it was destiny. Since the beginning of kindergarten, Maddie, my daughter, had taken a liking to her class pet rabbit, JuJu. Almost every day she would come home asking me when we could take JuJu home for the weekend.
Before the holidays, Juju spent a weekend with us, and I thought that that would be enough, but it wasn’t. So, after Christmas I agreed for her to have a pet fish.
Then, after 3 days the fish died.
Then, we bought Cocoa and three months later he died.
What was I to do? It seemed like destiny knocking.
So, I jumped online and researched Lionshead rabbits and decided to bring him home.
We are all crazy about this rabbit, but there’s just ONE THING.
He never hops around!
We bought a beautiful cage for him and I leave the cage open for him to freely move about the room.
I read that if a rabbit doesn’t have room to hop around, that it would develop osteoporosis. As a chiropractor I know all about that. Bottom line in life is if you don’t use it….you lose it.
It’s been one week now and every time I go to check on Jasper, it appears that he hasn’t moved an inch. He can hide in the same spot in his cage for hours! No use playing “where’s Waldo?” here….for Jasper is always in the same spot…hunched down at the end of his cage.
Even when we bring him outside or my daughter pets him on her lap, he just doesn’t want to move around a whole lot.
By the way, we bought him a harness this weekend and a leash for him to have outdoor time and he shows little interest in exploring.
Which brings me to my theory.
I really believe that he is experiencing learned helplessness and fear. My guess is that his previous owners never let him out of the cage and therefore he shows no desire to get out and explore. He assumes that the door is closed, so he makes no effort to move around. Maybe there was a time when he tried to get out, but he couldn’t, so he gave up.
Even though the very essence of a bunny is to hop around, Jasper has given up hope and surrendered to his “reality” that he will never be able to move freely again.
It is my intention to remind Jasper of who he really is, a RABBIT, free to move around, when the opportunity presents itself. I want him to feel the sun at his back and be able to nibble in the grass.
We all know that the rabbit is often used as a symbol of fear, scared of its own shadow. I was actually told once that if you scare a rabbit, it can actually be scared to death. Now, I don’t know if that it true, but little Jasper has resigned to be almost paralyzed by fear. It seems like he has been conditioned to give up…to stop dreaming about a life outside of the cage.
So, what does this have to do with a community of Women Supporting Women With Herpes?
I think Jasper and his life is a great metaphor for our lives.
Are you acting like Jasper…stunned in fear…certain that you will never be free again?
Are there doors open up to you that you are currently blind to?
Have you lost your passion for being YOU?
According to Seligman, learned helplessness is caused by 3 things, the 3 P’s….when a problem seems Permanent, Pervasive, Personal.
I believe that many sufferers of herpes experience learned helplessness due to these same three P’s.
Permanent: While there is no cure for herpes, you can change the way you perceive it. Another way to state this is to change its meaning to you. While you might always have herpes, you won’t always have symptoms, or you won’t always be alone. What is permanent is the result you get if you don’t do anything different. Get educated, empowered and inspired with Pink Tent™, we are here for you!
Pervasive: If you remain a victim to this skin infection it CAN ruin you life…..if you allow it to. It does not change who you are as a woman AND it does not impact your ability to love and be loved. It could impact your friendships if all you do is mope around. You are in control here. One thing you can change is your emotional state. You DO have control over that.
Personal: So many women with herpes are walking around asking themselves the wrong question…Why me? This very question will send your right into a place of victimhood, like you did something wrong or believe that God is punishing you. Really? What if you didn’t take this so personal and realized that this a great opportunity to show your faith or grow your self esteem or learn how to love yourself? Herpes has NEVER been personal, for it knows no boundaries in class or the color of your skin.
All of these attributes of learned helplessness can be overcome.
You must take a stand to overcome the emotional barriers that herpes brings.
You can do this!
How do I know this? Because I have done it myself and have helped women from around the world to do the same.
Take hold of your dreams and choose to be different. Herpes doesn’t make you different, it actually is quite normal to have herpes if you consider that at least 1 in 4 women have it. That is more common than breast cancer!
Need some extra support?
Check out my Amazon bestselling book, Live, Love, and Thrive With Herpes.