Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Yolanda Hadid says pain made her suicidal, calls illness an 'invisible disability'

Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Yolanda Hadid says pain made her suicidal, calls illness an 'invisible disability'
Yolanda Hadid (Getty Images)

Yolanda Hadid, mother of models Bella, Gigi and Anwar Hadid and 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' star revealed her struggle with Lyme disease in an emotional interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts in 2017. She spoke of how the illness caused her severe pain and how two of her three children suffer from the disease - she called it an "invisible disability."

"This is such an invisible disability, where you look beautiful on the outside yet you're dying on the inside. That's what people are judged with every day," said Yolanda. Deer ticks carry the bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and when an individual is bitten, the bacteria is transmitted - in other words, the illness is spread through these ticks. It initially causes a rash that forms a bullseye pattern and later causes flu-like symptoms but if left untreated, it can cause severe headaches, neurological symptoms, facial palsy, arthritis, pain in tendons, muscles, joints, and bones, nerve pain, and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. Yolanda was diagnosed with chronic neurological Lyme disease in Belgium in 2012.

Yolanda Hadid (C) and her daughters Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid celebrate her birthday and the premiere of her new Lifetime show, "Making A Model With Yolanda Hadid," with friends and family on January 11, 2018 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Since the disease has an array of symptoms, most people suffer silently as doctors are unable to pinpoint a diagnosis. Yolanda, too faced criticism and judgment as people believed that she wasn't sick.

"It didn't just happen to me, it happens to everyone who suffers from Lyme, including my own daughter, who's on the cover of magazines, yet people don't know how much she really struggles behind the scenes," Yolanda had revealed. She also said her son had suffered from it, "Anwar ... he's OK, he's been treated for two years and he's really good. But Bella, it's something she deals with every day of her life."

In that same interview, Yolanda spoke about how she contemplated suicide because of the intense pain, "I think in that moment I was so desperate, and in so much pain, like sweating on the bathroom floor in some hotel in Florida, trying to please other people. I remember laying in the ocean and going, 'Just take me, I just cannot live one more day.'" In the same moment that I thought that, the picture of my kids came up, and I'm going like, 'What are you thinking?' I wanted to be honest about that because I'm sure there are many people get to moments where just go like ... you throw your hands up in the air and go, 'I've tried everything, I just cannot go one more minute,'" she said

While in 2017 she had revealed that she was 90% better, she spoke of how the aftereffects of the disease still affected her body. "I still have some brain issues, where my scanner is off, where sometimes I have a hard time with word retrieval and things like that," she said and in 2019 revealed that in 2018 she suffered a relapse. "Although 2018 wasn’t my personal best as I struggled through a relapse of Lyme due to black mold exposure in my home which compromised my immune system, needless to say, a big disappointment in the health department," said Yolanda in an Instagram post.

In her 2017 memoir, 'Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease,' she opened up about her fight writing, "Too many nights I found myself lying naked on the bathroom floor, the only relief being the cold tiles on my bare skin, wondering how much more pain I could take and how many more days, months, and years I could suffer. There were plenty of times when I thought that I wouldn't make it through the night alive, and others where I wished and prayed that I would die."

In her memoir she also speaks of how she was treated with frog venom, her struggles when she was dumped by David Foster who told her ‘your sick card is up’ and how her co-stars from 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' didn't believe her.

(L-R) Bella Hadid, Yolanda Foster, Gigi Hadid and Mohamed Hadid attend the Victoria's Secret After Party at the Grand Palais on November 30, 2016 in Paris, France. (Getty Images)

It's been a hell of a struggle, but in better news, and to Yolanda's relief, in 2019 the former reality star said she was feeling "better than ever" as she revealed to People that she was in remission. "I’m in remission. I had a really bad year last year but I found a new frequency healing device and it’s been amazing for me. It took away 90 percent of my symptoms. It helped with my joint pain, the exhaustion, the brain fog, all the symptoms that come with Lyme disease,"she revealed. She continues managing her symptoms through lifestyle changes in her diet and keeps away from areas that have electric and magnetic fields.

An activist to the cause, Yolanda has been outspoken about her illness and won't stop until a cure is out and is dedicated to helping fight for people suffering from this "invisible" illness. "It sucks that it happened to me but at the end of the day I put a face to the disease that nobody knew anything about. It’s very real. And lot of people are suffering. But God put me on this path to make a difference. That’s what keeps me going," said Yolanda. 

May is National Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and it brings an opportunity for Lyme patients, activists, and educators to share tips and open up about Lyme and tick-borne diseases. In this column, we highlight the struggles of celebrities and talk about preventive and cure measures.

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