Yolanda Hadid’s decade-long battle with Lyme disease has been well documented, and now the former “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star is opening up about her struggles with this much-misunderstood ailment in a new interview with British Vogue.

“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.”

She described the 10-plus years since her diagnosis as “an absolute nightmare,” but admitted “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. 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.”

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Yet there was much to overcome; Hadid recalls how bad things became.

“I can’t begin to describe the darkness, the pain, and the hell I lived through every day,” she said. “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.”

The experience, she explained, has given her a profound understanding of how devastating Lyme disease can be on its victims.

“My heart is filled with compassion and respect for each and every person courageously battling this life-altering disease,” she said. “Remember: you are not alone. We must continue to fight this, together, one day at a time until a cure is found that is both accessible and affordable to all.”