Yolanda Hadid announced via Instagram that she's leaving RHOBH after what was a tumultuous season for her, and I think it's honestly for the best. She expressed her gratitude to fans for their "love and unwavering support" for the four years she was on the show, adding that she's "grateful for the housewife experience" and all that it's brought her.
I would have loved a more graceful exit then "Season 6" but sometimes we don't get to control the ending of the chapters in our life............ I am leaving what's over without denying its past importance in my life. I believe that every exit is an new entry and with that in mind I say goodbye to my @Bravotv Family as I continue to focus on a my recovery, my children and bring back the privacy within our Home........... Thank you to all the fans for your love and unwavering support these past 4 years. I am grateful for the housewife experience and all it has thought me. I'am excited about this choice and look forward to the next chapter of my life.................. #RHOBH #TimeToSayGoodbye with #Gratitude @evolutionusa @bravoandy @bravotv #WWHL
I'm not at all surprised by Hadid's decision to exit the show — after all, this recent season didn't do many favors for her. Hadid's struggles with Lyme disease were front and center for the entire season, with Hadid intending to set out on a mission to act as an advocate for the hundreds of thousands of Lyme disease sufferers around the globe. But instead, what Bravo aired was a sloppy mess of Munchhausen allegations and questions about the legitimacy of her illness, which is undoubtedly the exact opposite of what Hadid hoped for.
I will admit that I was looking forward to Season 6 of RHOBH because I have a personal connection with Hadid's plight — I watched my mom struggle with chronic Lyme disease for nearly three years before she was diagnosed, as doctors told her she had everything from lupus to fibromyalgia to depression. She was given steroids to mask the pain, antidepressants to help her "snap out of it" and the promise of 10 good years before her mystery disease would win out over her life. All the while, the Lyme bacteria wove deeply into every joint and every muscle fiber, doing further damage to her body.
Not that I ever want to see someone struggle with any illness, but I felt relieved that Hadid was using her status as a public figure to shed light on the very scary, very complicated world of Lyme disease. The thing about Lyme disease that the average person simply wouldn't understand is that it involves so much more than a simple tick bite and a course of antibiotics.
Most health professionals acknowledge standard cases of Lyme disease, in which a person is bit by a deer tick and infected with the disease. A bull's-eye rash, along with some standard symptoms including joint pain, fatigue and weakness appears. The person goes to the doctor, gets tested, receives a standard course of antibiotics and they're well on their way to feeling better... right?
Well, for most, that is the case. But for some, like Hadid and my mom, that's just not how simple it ends up being. If Lyme disease isn't caught right away (tests for Lyme disease are inconclusive, and often come back with false negatives), it can take years trying to figure out what exactly is going on. While you're doing that, the Lyme bacteria is multiplying and weaving deeply into every part of your body, including joints, muscles and the brain and heart. The symptoms (including but certainly not limited to fever, headache, fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, heart palpitations, mood changes/depression, anxiety, brain fog, etc.) are similar to other conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, arthritis and fibromyalgia. Lyme is often called "the great imitator," so diagnosis and treatment can take a long time, if it's even ever properly diagnosed.
Add to that the fact that the medical community is conflicted on if chronic or late-stage Lyme disease actually exists, and you've got a one-two punch. Many physicians refuse to acknowledge its existence, thus leaving sufferers without many options, desperately searching for a cure.
When Hadid decided that she was going to use her celebrity as a way to teach people about the harrowing effects that this disease inflicts upon hordes of people every year, I applauded her. I watched my own mom lie in a bed day after day, unable to move, before a Lyme-literate doctor saved her life and started her on a course of treatment that was right for her.
But what has happened has sparked a debate with more than just her fellow Housewives doubting her. Between the "sick selfies" vs. "happy selfies" and the claims that two of her children, Bella and Anwar Hadid, are also suffering, I completely understand why there's confusion about her intentions.
I don't doubt that Hadid is ill and I truly do believe she has good intentions, especially with the release of her forthcoming book on the topic. I just wish that Bravo wouldn't have spun the entire sixth season of RHOBH around doubt and questions in Hadid's case.
When she appeared at the Global Lyme Alliance Gala in 2015 and gave an incredible speech, some of which was chronicled on the show, I cheered for her. Things like that are what Lyme sufferers around the world need. What they don't need are more people doubting if they're really sick or if it's just "all in their heads."
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