Episode 30 - Rich Mancuso: Author of Asking for a Friend

March 23, 2018

This episode features 49 year old Rich Mancuso who participated in a clinical trial to relieve his severe herpes symptoms. His book, 'Asking for a Friend', tells the story of surviving herpes and receiving a functional cure* from a vaccine. 

Rich shares his experience contracting HSV-2 in his early 20's and how it was possibly mistaken for a yeast infection by a dissmissive doctor, then after some irritation on the butt cheek, it was confirmed to in fact be HSV-2 by a sarcastic doctor. 

In this episode, I wanted to give Rich a safe space to share his story  as well as promote his book without giving too much away. This episode runs long as we anticipated, but there are a lot of nuggets in here that are useful to not only the herpes community, but also to the non-herpes community. We discuss stress and its relation to herpes outbreaks, a different perception of suicide having more to do with loss of control than selfishness and shame and how it prevents us from testing new forms of treatment here in the US.

There are many reviews on the book, Rich addresses some of those in this episode, mainly the absence of advocacy for sexual assault survivors which we touch on near the end of this episode towards the one hour mark. *Trigger warning as there is mention of the word rape here.

One massive takeaway here is a butchered lighthouse analogy I never get exactly the same way twice when I bring it up. People who are 'out' about their condition allow themselves to be approached by those wandering in the dark who feel lost. The more of those people out there, the more people living in silence/shame are able to come out of that place and be a resource to those surrounding them and shed their light on their world to make more lighthouses. If every person with herpes was a resource to their circle, there would be so much less shame behind it and the stigma would crumble. I understand right now that may not work for everyone for various reasons, but it helps SOMEONE to know they have someone to come to when they are diagnosed, or when they meet someone who is. In my case, I've found that helping other people has helped me way more than I think it has the people I helped. . . . . Yeah that sentence looks weird, but I know what I was trying to say. 

For more info on Rich and his book, visit: www.askingforafriend.us Twitter: @RationalVaxxer and Facebook he's just Rich Mancuso.

Thanks to Pig and Pickle St. Louis for supporting the podcast. They're located at 5513 Pershing Ave. here in St. Louis. Check them out online at www.pigandpickleeatery.com and follow them on instagram @pigandpicklestl.

I'm on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit @HonMyChest. Please keep those reviews coming. The podcast is growing and we're being useful to those outside the community by being a safe place for them to access resources when they're ready. Thanks for listening!

Stay Positive!

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Episode 29 - Taking Back Control Part 2: Expressive Kink

March 13, 2018

*TRIGGER WARNING for sexual abuse survivors - Here's part 2: Lauren is a sexual abuse survivor. In this episode, she shares how her view of sex was shaped by her for her at a young age. Lauren and I discussed this off air and she's at a place where she is comfortable revisiting the event. We spoke more in detail off the podcast and mutually decided to remove/leave out certain details of the abuse. 

We discuss kink's role in Lauren's sex life as a means to take back the control that was taken from her by her abuser.

"You're safer with ME than you are with someone who doesn't have it". (Referring to herpes) This is a powerful belief for someone so new to their diagnosis! Own the power in KNOWING your sexual health status! You are more mindful of your health while you do have an sti than someone who DOESN'T KNOW if they have one. I've talked to people who say they don't have an sti although they don't get tested often. The people I talk to who DO have an sti get tested regularly. Interesting dynamic here because you'd think it would be the other way around. Thing is, it usually isn't a problem until it's a problem.

Sex education and communication is so important! This episode highlights the importance of how our sexual education early on translates into our behavior with anyone we have a sexual attraction to. It is uncomfortable to have that conversation but it's one that needs to be had. Someone will plant that seed of what sex is and should be, why not let it be a healthy message? At least if it's watered by sexual experiences over time, porn and stories from other people, that deep rooted seed planted with a healthy perspective helps our youth over time develop into something loving that continues that messaging. Thing is, we have to just be willing to have the conversation. 

We recorded this episode January 22, 2018 just 2 months after Lauren's diagnosis. The reason these episodes took so long was just for editing as this is sensative content. We wanted to be sure to remove certain details of Lauren's story and I suck at editing.

I'm on Instagram, Twitter and Instagram oh and Reddit @HonMyChest. Please continue to comment, like, rate, review, subscribe to the podcast. We're helping a lot of people with these stories. Please thank the guests in your review if you find value in their story(ies). I let them know and hey are very appreciative.

Stay Positive!

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Episode 29 - Taking Back Control Part 1: First Time’s a Charm

March 13, 2018

We recorded this episode January 22, 2018 just 2 months after Lauren's diagnosis. The reason these episodes took so long was just for editing as this is sensative content. We wanted to be sure to remove certain details of Lauren's story and I suck at editing.

We talk about Lauren's first penetrative sexual experience. Lauren met up with a man she barely knew and had every intention of using a condom, but did not use one. The explanation for this can be found in part 2 of this episode where we discuss past sex-related interactions and education from childhood. 

Lauren found support quickly and has adopted a very positive perspective on her diagnosis. Her story is one that makes us rethink the idea the stigma has that herpes is an std you get from sleeping with a lot of people. We have someone who after her first time, had the misfortune of contracting HSV. Take that you stupid stigma.

I'm on Instagram, Twitter and Instagram oh and Reddit @HonMyChest. Please continue to comment, like, rate, review, subscribe to the podcast. We're helping a lot of people with these stories. Please thank the guests in your review if you find value in their story(ies). I let them know and hey are very appreciative.

Stay Positive!

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Episode 28 - Open Mirrors

March 11, 2018

This episode features 26 year old Fleur from Australia who works in marketing. Fleur is a woman who contracted HSV-2 from a partner who chose to disclose AFTER she began to show symptoms. Fleur took 2 years off from sex to find herself. She saw a sex therapist who gave her sound advice on disclosing we'll call mirroring (more details below). Fleur took this advice and fell for a man who opened her up to polyamory which means 'many loves'.

A few major takeaways here that I found to be important are:

- Open to poly despite herpes; we oftenfear spreading the virus despite who we tell being accepting to the risks. Fleur rose above that fear and took a chance. She took control of what she could which was first accepting HSV for herself, understanding what it meant for her and what it means for her potential partner. She shared her diagnosis and the stats, allowing him to take that information to his partners. They all accept FLEUR over the risk of herpes. It's important to note that Fleur accepted herself before expecting someone to accept her. You have to take responsibility for what you can control. The other person is going to either accept you with the risk, or not be willing to accept the risk. Which takes us down to . . . 

- Open to herpes despite poly; Fleur's current partner, while engaging in sexual activity with multiple partners, accepts Fleur along with the risk of contracting herpes. This man is either a smoothe salesman or really has some open-minded partners. While we often strugge to share the risk of contracting HSV with one person, imagine sharing that possibility with multiple partners who have to share that with multiple partners. While there's less at stake making this easier for him, we can learn from this experience to take the pressure off ourselves when disclosing. It's important to recognize . . . 

- The value of open, honest communication; This authenticity in Fleur's communication was mirrored here. Her confidence, her knowledge, her honesty is what was relayed to her metamours in that disclosure. How Fleur felt, is how he perceived Fleur felt and it was so genuine, so honest, so true, that when he took that to his partners introducing the risk of contracting herpes from a newly invited person into their circle. They took it well due to . . . . 

- Mirroring; So I Googled this and there's already a word for what we talked about in a different context. What we mean by mirroring is how we feel is projected onto the recipient of our message. When we're shaking, avoiding eye contact, studdering, crying, cracking our voices, that isn't received well. That is some draining stuff right there. We want to be around people who are energizing, motivating, assure us that it's safe to be ourselves around them. We ultimately want the freedom to be ourselves and connect with like-minded people. The reward for freedom is the risk of rejection.

At this point, we've broken the 5k downloads mark and I'm so thankful for everyone continuing to share the podcast with others as well as leaving us ratings and reviews for the podcast. The more reviews, the more exposure. The more exposure, the easier it is for those who think they're alone to connect with us and gain access to the resources they need to help them through their diagnosis so please keep it up you all. I can be found on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Instagram @HonMyChest

Stay Positive!

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Episode 27 - Divine Intuition: Explore it, Don’t Ignore it

March 11, 2018

On her way to a trip where she planned to end her life, Reese fortunately had that plan interrupted by her involvement with a car accident that made her rethink her decision. Coming so close to death, Reese decided that wasn't for her since she was given a second chance. She dug into her faith and began to work on herself.

One major takeaway here is to trust your intuition! When you see a red flag, it's better to explore it than ignore it. Reese talks about overlooking a 'pimple' she noticed on her partner.

This episode was a reminder of why this podcast was started. When we are diagnosed, we genuinely can get to a place where we believe our lives are over. Our lives aren't over upon diagnosis because an std doesn't make that choice for us. We do. We live in a world where having an std is physically the most manageable it's ever been. The physical pain isn't going to kill you but the mental/emotional pain can deplete your desire to live. When I started this podcast it was to prove to people that herpes doesn't have as much of an effect on your life as you'd think. For anyone contemplating suicide, please reach out to someone close for support. Those thoughts are not your own, those thoughts come from the stigma, isolation, boredom, shame, embarrasment, all negative emotions that you didn't choose to experience. Take that control and allow yourself to accept yourself. Seek support, find people who energize you. Get out of that state of loneliness. Omelettes can only be made when you break the eggs. Think of herpes as that impact that cracks the egg open for you allowing all your wonderful yolkiness to veg out into a nice warm skillet. Then top yourself with some spinach, mushrooms . . . okay it's almost 10am and I think Im going to go break some eggs myself now haha. 

Please leave a review thanking Reese for her story and bravery. She plans to share this podcast with a few people close to her so please encourage her and let her know she has your support. I speak on behalf of all our guests when I say you have ours as well.

At this point, we've broken the 5k downloads mark and I'm so thankful for everyone continuing to share the podcast with others as well as leaving us ratings and reviews for the podcast. The more reviews, the more exposure. The more exposure, the easier it is for those who think they're alone to connect with us and gain access to the resources they need to help them through their diagnosis so please keep it up you all. I can be found on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Instagram @HonMyChest

Stay Positive!

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Episode 26 - Alexandra Harbushka’s Life With BOTH Herpes

March 11, 2018

Alexandra hosts the podcast, Life With Herpes, and recently featured me as a guest on her 83rd episode: https://lifewithherpes.com/podcast/083-something-positive-for-people-who-are-positive-with-courtney-brame/ She's an amazing human being and it was an honor to not only be on her podcast, but to also have her bless Something Positive for Positive People with her energy as well. It's amazing to find so many resources out there from people open about their condition encouraging us to break the stigma behind herpes.

Alexandra and I could've spoken for hours about her experience but managed to condense the convo to just over an hour.The conversation touched on us having this idea of who has herpes and then struggling to reshape that image of ourselves. We discuss how Alexandra contracted HSV-2 fourteen years after getting type 1 from a first date kiss! We talk about the lack of education and communication, neglecting the fact that hsv-1 can potentially be spread via kissing, foreplay, masturbation and according to The Medical Center of the University of Maryland, it can be spread by sharing drinks or utensils within up to 10 seconds. (Link to resource): http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/herpes-simplex-virus

You should listen to this episode if you need the courage to really embrace yourself as more than the stigma placed upon you for having herpes. There's only one way to break free of that and it's to understand who YOU are despite having herpes. Alexandra is a phenomenal example of this, having broken free, becoming an educator and an active voice in the herpes community letting everyone know that herpes isn't that big of a deal. She has a meaningful career, she has hobbies, she travels, is married, has the kind of sex life she wants. Connect with this woman, engage this woman and capitalize on her experience being out there on the Life With Herpes podcast.

Alexandra is offering a complimentary 30 minute coaching session for Something Positive for Positive People listeners. Sign up and ask her about pommegranate. Just go to: https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fapp.acuityscheduling.com%2Fschedule.php%3Fowner%3D13691061%26appointmentType%3D5894645&h=ATOjIhcSTXqROqmj5ArLWVVuHHKnvmDQTY-VYTjIYaYekzKu72W-c-x2_SSV_2ldPaLjCr_tSy1XGJve8p33eg_2Uziu4y1MQpIf6y8u3d7GOdg&s=1

For more resources available to those living with herpes, Alexandra can be found on Instagram @Lifewithherpes and @alexandraharbushka, Facebook @Alexandra Harbushka, Twitter @aharbushka. Her website is www.lifewithherpes.com

At this point, we've broken the 5k downloads mark and I'm so thankful for everyone continuing to share the podcast with others as well as leaving us ratings and reviews for the podcast. The more reviews, the more exposure. The more exposure, the easier it is for those who think they're alone to connect with us and gain access to the resources they need to help them through their diagnosis so please keep it up you all. I can be found on Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit and Instagram @HonMyChest

Stay Positive!

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Episode 25 - Eliminating Assumptions, Part 2: A New Sex Life

March 7, 2018

Here's the highly anticipated part 2 to Dale's episode! Off the record I asked if Dale were open to sharing Dale's personal experience in their sex life. I'm getting better about the she/her him/her they/their pronouns. I butchered it in the beginning of this episode :/ . 

This episode highlights Dale's open-mindedness. Being non-binary non-monogamous really leaves the door open to all types of explorating with various anatomies. 

Negotiations really stood out to me in this convo we had. The idea of having a full conversation of what to expect (SHOULD CONSENT BE EXCHANGED BY ALL PARTIES) never occurred to me. This communication is where all assumptions can be eliminated. You can express what you're into and allow the other person/people to express what they're into, discuss sexual health, and this makes it easier to relax into the experience of freaky thangs. Note that negotiations don't mean consent. Negotiations mean these are the things that are on the table. Consent should be exchanged still.

Dale manages the social media pages dedicated to sex ed and the destigmitization of herpes. On Instagram, Dale is @_I_have_herpes_

I can be found on social media @HonMyChest

Please continue to review/comment/share/like/rate this podcast. The people finding it are being directed to resources helping them tremendously. Literally at 1pm central time today, someone on Reddit said they were diagnosed yesterday and found this show and that it helped them a lot. Thank you all!

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Episode 25 - Eliminating Assumptions, Part 1: Better Support

March 7, 2018

Dale manages the social media pages dedicated to sex ed and the destigmitization of herpes. On Instagram, Dale is @_I_have_herpes_

We talk about Dale's experience being diagnosed after seeing someone who has HSV-1. They were aware and Dale was open to the risk. But are you really ever prepared to contract herpes? Do our non-H partners really understand the risks? Are we willing to put our partners at risk? Just a few things to think about when listening to this episode. Check it out.

Our stigmitization comes from a belief we had about herpes before we had herpes. I've said it before and I will keep saying it. When this becomes relevant to us, we become super researchers. We begin to understand what the virus is TO US. And what that teaches us is to take care of our bodies. In doing that, we're able to better take care of those around us. This 100% translates into all areas of our lives. Let's continue to take care of ourselves and understand what having herpes means to us so that we're able to become better educaters and create a new stigma that is more experience based.

I can be found on social media @HonMyChest

Please continue to review/comment/share/like/rate this podcast. The people finding it are being directed to resources helping them tremendously. Literally at 1pm central time today, someone on Reddit said they were diagnosed yesterday and found this show and that it helped them a lot. Thank you all!

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Bonus Episode - (My First Guest Appearance) The James Strong Show: Courtney Brame Living with an STD

March 4, 2018

This is my first interview on another podcast. I was nervous, I studdered, I was repetitive, and I had a freaking blast! I selfishly didn't want to post this. After some deep self-reflection, I realize it's in the best interest of the listeners for me to put this out there. I ask all of my guests to come on and be transparent with me about their experience, so it's only right that I put this out there myself.

The James Strong Podcast is a St. Louis based podcast I made an appearance on because the host just wanted to interview me. He's an awesome guy with years of radio experience under his mic. His show covers current events and he's professional af. His studio and recording equipment were way advanced. I felt like I was on Howard Stern or something. This dude is legit. 

He asked me about the podcast, my experience and we shot the shit a bit. We go through my diagnosis, what dating was like for me, my views on safER sex and he even gives a history lesson to me on a few common stds.

Listen to this episode if you want to laugh at me. Listen to me talk here and then go to one of the latest episodes if you want to gague how nervous I was on someone else's podcast versus my own haha. I really enjoyed this and want to share it with the world. If I can share my story, so can you.

Check out The James Strong Podcast for some professional St. Louisan taste on current events. James is an awesome dude and taught me a lot in our brief interaction with each other recording this show.

I'm on social media @HOnMyChest

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Episode 24 - Lose Yourself Inside Yourself to Find Yourself

March 4, 2018

Lauen just moved to Japan, had a new life starting for her teaching English and then BAM herpes. She finds herself being diagnosed by a Japanese doctor who just goes, "WOW" after visual confirmation of genital herpes. After a negative swab test, Lauren suffered from symptoms but couldn't get anyone to give a final confirmation with a blood test and treatment of the virus. She literally had to almost beg to have her vagina looked at (by a medical professional of course). 

Lauren was in a relationship with someone who was misinformed about herpes. Her ex said she had herpes once but it went away. Now, most of us who listen to this podcast are aware herpes doesn't just 'go away'. Lauen's now ex girlfriend may not have used the proper terminology at that point in time. Visibly, yes, herpes goes away but the virus doesn't leave your body.

Herpes for Lauren was a huge blessing. She originally thought this would fix her relationship that had many other issues, one of which being abuse. Herpes made it easier for her so she tried to make it work, but it just delayed the inevidable. Lauren says herpes saved her life. She found herself feeling alone, engaging in self-harm, drinking to fall asleep, even cutting herself. Lauen has stepped away from those behaviors and has incorporated many positive habits into her life such as exercizing and cooking. She began to find her own identity outside of that relationship she was in or allowing those relationships to define her.

Lauren's advice to newly diagnosed people is to write love letters to yourself. Lose yourself inside yourself to find yourself.

My biggest takeaway from this episode is Lauren's openness so soon after her diagnosis. I love how open she is and how willing she was to disclose to people close to her for this being so new. We all have different experiences in life and I think she's had some in her life that prepared her for dealing with her diagnosis way better than a lot of us could have or will.

If you like this or any other episode, pleaes don't hesitate to leave us a review. Please continue to support the show by rating/subscribing and letting people know about it. This is turning into so much more than just a lighthouse/resource connecting newly diagnosed people to resources available to them for support, this is changing people's lives ya'll. Mine especially because it gives me a new found sense of purpose. I appreciate all the guests and all the listeners for supporting the show on top of all the brave souls who put themselves out there constantly being rejected but still doing the right thing in hope of finding love. Thank you all.

I'm on social media @HonMyChest

Stay positive

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