How to stay calm about STI's

Questions and discussion about contraception, safer sex, STIs, sexual healthcare and other sexual health issues.
Sunflower12345
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How to stay calm about STI's

Unread postby Sunflower12345 » Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:05 pm

Hi! First of all, I want to apologize just because I feel like most of topics I post about are anxiety related and I am in the process of getting help for it, but in this specific scenario I am also looking for information about how people handle the possibility of STIs. I just got nervous today about possible STIs just because I realized that before meeting my current boyfriend I had hooked up with two other guys and hadn't gotten tested since then. I only engaged in oral sex with them however, I did swallow. I wasn't really anxious before because neither guy is really what I consider high-risk and both claimed to be STD free, but obviously I can't know for sure if they were telling the truth. I plan on getting tested Monday however my anxiety has sky-rocketed and I have convinced myself I have gotten every disease under the sun. Should I contact each of these guys and ask about their health again or should I just wait to be tested? Also how do people engage in casual sex without having constant anxiety of STIs and such?

Gone.Sorry.
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Re: How to stay calm about STI's

Unread postby Gone.Sorry. » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:28 pm

Hi, again, Sunflower12345!

Previously, a mod had linked you to ScarleTeen's big resource page for managing anxiety and you had downloaded an app off of that. Are you still using that app? Have you tried using that app to help with the anxiety you're experiencing right now? Is it making a difference?

If you might want to try a couple different methods with a couple different methods, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has also reviewed a thorough list of mental health apps that you might check out here. One app I didn't see on that list but have had several people I know suggest is the app Pacifica, which can help you work through CBT techniques for managing things like anxiety.

The reason we keep encouraging you to engage in professional help for your anxiety and giving you long-term coping mechanisms is because dealing with anxiety really means finding long-term strategies that work for you to recognize and cope with your anxiety. Short-term patches aren't going to do you much good, as you'll keep spiraling and this will likely become more and more and more intense. This is explained pretty well in Scarleteen's thread Why We Set Big Limits Around Anxiety and Reassurance, if you haven't checked that out yet!

It is a long and hard process to find manageable, long-term solutions for yourself because - well - it does take time! And that definitely can be a struggle when you're struggling now and don't have the experience behind you of building those long-term management strategies. But! It's important that you do start proactively working to manage your anxiety, since you are experiencing a lot of anxiety right now, rather than giving into it.

For example, contacting those past partners you've had again to re-interrogate them on their sexual health, would be an example of giving into your anxiety in what could be an unhealthy manner. Here's why: Do you have any evidence or reasoning beyond your anxiety that these guys lied to you? You have already asked them about their sexual health, you know what they said - so what is there really to be gained by asking them again? If they were/are lying to you, then what is asking them again going to accomplish? Would there be anything they could do to absolutely convince you that they now telling the truth? Giving into the urge to call them up and have the same conversation you've already had with them could potentially trigger a spiral where you end up harassing them, leaving none of you with any piece of mind! If you believe they're lying and you keep confronting them about it, you're going to create a situation where you can then never believe anything they say and can become potentially obsessive about proving they are lying, which could constitute harassing them into saying what your anxiety wants them to say. Not a good spiral!

I think a better proactive thing for you to do right now would be to open that anxiety managing app you downloaded earlier and working through whatever steps it gives for you to re-focus your thoughts. You can also explore some other grounding methods to help re-direct your thoughts out of this spiral you're experiencing. Traditional meditation might give your mind too much freedom to keep spiraling, but how about guided meditation? Guided meditation is when you have someone instructing and leading you through some breathing and meditation exercises. You can focus on their words and instructions to help move your mind to another topic and relieve your anxiety. I use the free app Insight Timer. It has thousands of free meditation sessions (traditional, guided, and even bedtime stories and lectures) that cover just about any topic you can think of (anxiety management, stress relief, relaxation, depression coping, help sleeping, setting intent for the day, improving focus, etc.).

As for how you keep moving forward getting to explore your sexuality without always getting trapped in this cycle of fixating on STIs, 1) you do what you've been doing and take care of your sexual health by talking with your partners, getting tested on the regularly recommended schedule, and using protection, and 2) put in the work and time to work on your anxiety and developing long-term management and coping solutions for yourself. The long-term work and utilizing trained help to assist you in managing your anxiety is going to be the most effective thing you can do to help yourself from getting stuck like this!

So, it's great that you are in the process of getting help for your anxiety! How is that going? Are you feeling good about the process? Do you have a set date to speak with someone? Do you have any questions about following through on this?

Sunflower12345
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Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:57 pm
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Location: Florida

Re: How to stay calm about STI's

Unread postby Sunflower12345 » Fri Dec 20, 2019 7:46 pm

Thank you so much for replying!
That article you linked in your message was extremely extremely helpful, I didn't realize that looking for all this reassurance is just making things worse. Also thank you so much for showing me that contacting those past partners would have just worsened my spiral because it was something I was greatly debating on doing. I think my main problem is, is that I go through the steps to calm myself down, but then it all rushes back again and I go look for reassurance that I'm ok from outside sources. I think I have to work to reassure myself instead of trying to find it in other places. I have made progress in seeking care for my anxiety (I started yoga and I have made an appointment for counseling at my university) but I think your suggestion of meditation might help a lot so I'll look into it.

Again, I am eternally grateful for this website, it made me aware of so many resources in regard to my mental and sexual health and I appreciate every time you guys reply to my messages despite how repetitive they've been.

Siân
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Re: How to stay calm about STI's

Unread postby Siân » Sat Dec 21, 2019 4:39 am

Sunflower12345,

horriblegoose seems to have you covered on this question. I just wanted to pop in to say how totally GREAT it is that you're taking such positive, thoughtful steps to manage your anxiety, and that you've got this.

I'm so glad you've found our site helpful!

Gone.Sorry.
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Re: How to stay calm about STI's

Unread postby Gone.Sorry. » Sun Dec 22, 2019 12:28 am

I'm glad you're making use of some steps to help manage your anxiety! I totally hear you on those methods working in the moment but struggling to make them apply after specifically focusing on them. In these cases, distraction can actually help a lot of people. Maybe you can try using these methods you have - like yoga (and yoga breaths would be a good way to pause and focus on something else when you need to de-escalate - and then using that to help you re-focus your energy into something else/something productive. Just do something that engages your mind! Maybe that means working out for a bit or reading a book or doing some sudoku or practicing a new language or baking something or working on some homework. Don't do things where your mind tends to wander, such as taking a bath or going for a walk or washing dishes. Do something that will engage your mind and give you other things to focus on!


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