Yolanda Hadid has spoken extensively about her experience with Lyme disease since being diagnosed with the tick-borne illness in 2012. And even though she's in remission right now, the former "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star doesn't intend to stop spreading awareness about the disease anytime soon.
In a new interview with Vogue, the 57-year-old gives an update on her condition and explains why she refers to Lyme disease as an “invisible disability.”
“I’m doing really well at the moment, knock on wood! As you know, there is no known cure for chronic Lyme disease, so being in remission is a blessing I cherish every day," she told the magazine.
Hadid has three children — Gigi, 25, Bella, 24, and Anwar, 21 — and the youngest two also have Lyme disease. The proud mom said she and her daughter, who is a well-known model, are passionate about using their platforms to educate the public on the disease.
“I always say that we have to turn our mess into a message. We’re both convinced that we shouldn’t just use our platforms to post selfies. We also try to use them as amplifiers to give a voice to those who can’t be heard. By sharing the more uncomfortable parts of our lives, we have the power to raise awareness,” she explained.
The 57-year-old, who started her career as a model in the '80s and '90s, doesn't know when or where she and two of her children contracted Lyme disease but did explain that she raised her family on a farm in California and said that everyone was constantly spending time outdoors.
Before being diagnosed, Hadid experienced a number of symptoms including brain fog, severe fatigue, anxiety, migraines and muscle weakness. Still, she was hesitant to admit that something was wrong.
“My body sent me early warning signs, but my type-A personality didn’t leave me much room to be vulnerable with myself. I fought tooth and nail to keep things together in front of my family and friends, but as things got progressively worse, there was no hiding from the truth anymore,” she said.
In 2019, the former model told People that her Lyme disease was in remission, and she described her decadelong journey as "an absolute nightmare" in her Vogue interview. However, the diagnosis did teach Hadid a few important life lessons.
"My ‘new normal’ is much slower and more in tune with who I am. I’ve also learned to love my authentic self with all my imperfections. I’m grateful for every moment I get to spend on this planet with family and friends. Looking back, all those difficult times in my life were blessings in disguise,” she said.
Still, Hadid said many people living with Lyme disease suffer in silence and said it's very much an "invisible disability."
“Like with many chronic diseases and mental health issues, the unfortunate truth is that you appear to be healthy on the outside, which is difficult for people to reconcile. It’s much easier for us to have compassion for somebody with visible external symptoms," she said. "Most people still don’t seem to believe that chronic Lyme disease even exists. As the saying goes: you don’t truly get it until you get it.”
While looking back on the pain she experienced for years, Hadid said she often felt hopeless. But she credits her children for giving her the strength she needed to persevere.
"This disease brought me to my knees. Many nights I wished to die, and prayed I would just be free of the pain. If it weren’t for my children, I don’t think I would be here today," she said.