Overcoming Stigma and Finding your Unique Path
By Contributing Author Stephanie
I watched this video quite a few months ago and for a long time did not understand my connection to Eleanor Longden or her struggle with mental health. After much contemplation I began to understand my ability to empathize with her and be overwhelmingly inspired by her journey. Although her experience with schizophrenia is vastly different than my own experience with herpes, the fact of the matter is we both had to overcome societal stigma and as well personal stigma against our conditions.
To me, the most inspirational part of Eleanor’s story is her ability to not only overcome that stigma but to do so in a way that defied the norms of medicine and treatment for her condition. By overcoming the stigma associated with schizophrenia she was able to work with her symptoms and hardships in order to create a meaningful interaction with her voices. What she teaches any of us going through the process of overcoming stigma to promote healing is that doing so will allow you to experience your stigmatized identity in a way that is actually beneficial. For those of us dealing with a new herpes diagnosis, or the trauma that comes along with an outbreak after years of living with the virus, it is important to interact with our condition and symptoms in a compassionate way. My ability, and i’m sure many of yours, to understand Eleanor’s hardships is a perfect example of one way herpes has been beneficial in my life. Being able to feel true compassion and empathize for others in seemingly completely different situations than your own is a true gift that I may not have today without my diagnosis.
I hope you all find as much inspiration in Eleanor’s story and her ability to overcome stigma associated with her voices as I have; and I hope it inspires you all to find your unique path to health and happiness in your acceptance of your diagnosis.
Hi Everyone! My name is Stephanie. I was diagnosed with HSV-2 in April of 2014 when I was 22 years old. Right now, almost three years later, I am a doctoral student in the sociology department at Purdue University. I recently completed my MA in sociology at the University of Northern Colorado where I explored the role of stigma in the process of disclosing a genital herpes diagnosis. With that said, if anyone is interested in reading what I discovered in my project, I am happy to share that with you! I plan to continue advocating for our community, as well as studying the social factors that influence sexual health in order to understand how we can create a world that is easier for people diagnosed with STIs. I really enjoy writing for the Pink Tent community and am excited to be able to share some of my experiences and thoughts about living with genital herpes with you all.