After overcoming a decade-long health battle, Yolanda Hadid looks back on that fight and sees "blessings in disguise."
That's how she put it during a newly published interview with British Vogue, in which the 57-year-old veteran model and mom to the industry's brightest stars—Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid and Anwar Hadid—reflected on her struggle with Lyme disease and how she has learned to manage her chronic symptoms. But, while she's relishing in her new normal today, the pain of the past is clear.
"I used to be a multitasking, single mother-of-three and social butterfly who, slowly, started to lose her magical powers," she described to the magazine. Recalling a list of symptoms, including "severe fatigue," "brain fog" and "joint pain," Yolanda said it all "left me feeling depressed." Adding to the difficult situation, Yolanda was fighting an illness without looking ill.
"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," she said. "It's much easier for us to have compassion for somebody with visible external symptoms. 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."
Ultimately, Yolanda credits her three children with saving her life. "I can't begin to describe the darkness, the pain and the hell I lived through every day," she described. "For some time, it didn't even feel like living at all. 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. It's so important we learn to listen to people, as many of us are suffering in silence. We should learn not to judge how somebody feels by the way they look on the outside."
If there's anyone who won't judge her, it's her children. Bella and Anwar have also been battling Lyme disease for years. "My children grew up on a farm in Santa Barbara, California, riding horses and spending a lot of time in nature," Yolanda told the magazine regarding where they might have contracted the illness. "We never noticed any ticks or bull's-eye rashes on us, but we'll never know for sure."
Now, having found balance through her own wellness routine, Yolanda said she is "currently living without most of my chronic symptoms" and credited her boyfriend Joseph Jingoli, "who has made me believe in love again."
While the memories of her illness are not happy ones, the lessons are. "My decade-long journey was an absolute nightmare, but my diagnosis taught me a lot about life; about how much patience and dedication are needed in order to survive. My 'new normal' is much slower and more in tune with who I am," she explained. "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."