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Why Yolanda Hadid Missed Early Warning Signs of Her Chronic Illness

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For some people who develop chronic illness, it can be hard to recognize that their symptoms aren’t temporary and they need to take care of themselves. Former “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” reality star Yolanda Hadid opened up in a British Vogue interview on how it was difficult to recognize her recognize that she was living with chronic Lyme disease.

Hadid’s early symptoms included severe fatigue, brain fog, memory loss, difficulty with word retrieval, anxiety, insomnia and migraines. Hadid told British Vogue, “My body sent me early warning signs, but my type-A personality didn’t leave me much room to be vulnerable with myself.” She tried to hide symptoms from her family and friends but “as things got progressively worse, there was no hiding from the truth anymore.”

Like Hadid, I too tried to brush off symptoms of my autoimmune disease, systemic urticarial vasculitis, which causes my blood vessels to be inflamed. I was in a car accident in my senior year of high school, and I was in so much pain after, which I thought was just injuries from the car accident. I graduated from high school and then left home for university, but my symptoms got worse.

I eventually had to be hospitalized six months after my car accident because of inflammation caused me to have problems breathing and my entire body was very swollen. Despite abnormal blood test results, doctors brushed off my symptoms as being from anxiety. I tried to continue living a normal life at universities, but after not really feeling my legs due to numbness for a month, something had to be done. My friends knew something was wrong, but they didn’t know the extent of it. I would always be in class, but then I would spend some nights in the Emergency Room because I didn’t want to let anyone or myself down. One of my professors helped me realize that I could and should take a semester off, sharing that she had done so, so I left to try and get a diagnosis and treatment.

Soon after leaving university, I had such a severe flare that I was told that I should be on bed rest for a few months, but I also finally got my diagnosis. One of the reasons why I think doctors brushed off my health concerns is that my vasculitis is largely invisible. Hadid also touched on the difficulty of living with an invisible disability in British Vogue. She shared the following:

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. 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

I sometimes have a difficult time convincing myself that I should not hold myself up to certain standards, like trying to finish projects ahead of the due date, which are unfair to my body. One perk of being upon about how my chronic illness affects me to my friends, family and some colleagues is that they will say something to me if it’s clear I’m working when I should be resting.

Image via Facebook/Yolanda Hadid

Originally published: February 12, 2021
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