Earlier this week, Bella Hadid opened up about her battle with chronic Lyme disease, a controversial illness that she says she’s been dealing with for 15 years.
In a lengthy Instagram post, the 26-year-old model shared old medical records, pictures of her hooked up to scary-looking IVs, and hospital bed selfies. In the caption, Bella wrote that the “the little me that suffered” would be proud of “grown me” for not giving up on her health. She thanked her mother, fellow chronic Lyme advocate/former Real Housewife/ultimate almond mom, Yolanda Hadid, for sticking by her side and believing in her illness (Yolanda’s Lyme memoir was literally titled, Believe Me, so methinks that was never going to be an issue). Bella continued:
Living in this state, worsening with time and work while trying to make myself, my family and the people who support me, proud, had taken a toll on me in ways I can’t really explain. To be that sad and sick with the most blessings/privilege/opportunity/love around me was quite possibly the most confusing thing ever.
But Bella revealed that, after first getting diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2012, she is “finally healthy”:
I have so much gratitude for and perspective on life, this 100+ days of Lyme, chronic disease, co infection treatment, almost 15 years of invisible suffering, was all worth it if I’m able to, God willing, have a lifetime of spreading love from a full cup, and being able to truly be myself, For the first time ever
Bella ended her caption by thanking her doctor, nurses, and letting her followers know that she’ll get back to work “when I’m ready”. Apparently, she’s been on a five-month break getting treatment. Here’s the post:
Chronic Lyme disease is a funny thing. It is a truth universally acknowledged that, yes, Lyme disease exists and it’s transmitted by infected ticks. But medical circles generally reject the “chronic” label. Many doctors see the promotion of chronic Lyme as the wellness industry taking advantage of people with medically unexplained symptoms, such as persistent fatigue or pain. Or, in the words of Bella, “invisible suffering”.
Alternative medicine offers chronic Lyme sufferers all sorts of unorthodox treatments that allegedly alleviate their symptoms. In Yolanda Hadid’s memoir, she reflected on all the wild remedies she tried to get rid of her Lyme: stem cell transplants, taking 150 different tablets a day, smoking raw tobacco, removing her metal fillings and leaky breast implants, trying a combination of frog venom and ayahuasca, and more.
The veracity of Yolanda’s illness was called into question for the entire sixth season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, which began airing in 2015. Cast member Lisa Rinna speculated that Yolanda might have Munchausen’s, a claim she vehemently denied. That same year, Yolanda’s then-husband, David Foster, ended their marriage. He allegedly told her, “Your sick card is up.” In 2016, Yolanda revealed that both Bella and Anwar, her son, also suffered from the illness. Somehow, Gigi Hadid was spared.
The Hadids aren’t the only celebrities who identify as chronic Lyme sufferers. There’s also Avril Lavigne, Mark Ruffalo, Amy Schumer, Justin Bieber, Kelly Osborne, and riot grrrl Kathleen Hanna. Just this week, Vanity Fair published an interview with sufferer Riley Keough, who was staying at a holistic treatment center in Switzerland:
“I have Lyme disease,” Keough says. She pulls her long hair, still damp from the shower, away from her bare face. “I used this little break that I have to come and try and see if I can alleviate it a bit. It’s a holistic treatment center and offers all kinds of things that you can’t really do in America yet, like cleaning your blood.”
Like cleaning your blood. Riley also explained that her illness was the reason she decided to use a surrogate to carry her now-1-year-old daughter, Tupelo (named after Grandpa Elvis’ birthplace):
“I think it’s a very cool, selfless, and incredible act that these women do to help other people. I can carry children, but it felt like the best choice for what I had going on physically with the autoimmune stuff.”
With all the chronic Lyme talk this week, some people on Twitter have been joking that the disease only seems to target rich, hot celebrities. The comments on these tweets are split between “yep, it’s a scam” and “this is ableism.”
As for Bella Hadid, she’s finally back to work after her health break:
First day back on set in 5 months!♬ Sprinter Dave x Cench - Spotify Audios
Good luck, Bella. And to all you no-good, Lyme-ridden ticks: keep your infected asses far, far away from Hollywood.