Model Bella Hadid opened up about how Lyme disease affects her life and career on Thursday. Hadid spoke at the Global Lyme Alliance’s second annual Uniting For a Lyme-free World gala in New York. The model was diagnosed with the disease in 2012, and has been having long-term symptoms for which there is no cure.

“My teenage years were taken away from me. I was forced to start homeschooling my second year of high school, which of course I didn’t want to do because I’d rather go hang out with my friends, go to parties,” the model told People. 

Hadid revealed that the ailment has taken a toll on her physically. “Usually I’ll wake up from some kind of bone pain, then have to fall back asleep,” she shared at the gala. Hadid explained that her symptoms include pain in her spine, brain fog, and severe fatigue.

The model said that the illness has stopped her from pursuing some of her dreams, including being a professional horse rider. “Showjumping was my dream of my life, and what I did every single day until I just stopped, and realized I didn’t have the brain power to ride horses anymore, so that was the end of that,” she explained.

Hadid revealed that, “the hardest part of this journey is to be judged by the way you look instead of the way you feel,” and that despite her modelling success, she often feels too tired to enjoy it. “When I’m at Fashion Week it’s literally only work, and when I’m not working I’m sleeping. I don’t go out that much, I eat dinner by myself in my hotel room and go to sleep. That’s pretty much my fashion week,” Hadid shared at the event. 

Hadid’s mother, Yolanda Foster, also suffers from Lyme disease and frequently shares updates of her struggle on social media. Foster attended the gala along with her daughter and gave an inspiring speech. She explained that the disease is often misunderstood, and expressed her pride in her daughter. “I am so grateful and proud of my daughter Bella for understanding the higher purpose of her journey and speaking openly about her journey in order to bring awareness for the hundreds of thousands of teenagers who suffer just like she does, but whose voices cannot be heard,” Foster said. 

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