Dear Yolanda,

I’ve been watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills for several years. When you first arrived on the show I was struck by how different you were from the other ladies. The first thing I noticed was that you seemed to be interested in genuine relationships. In spite of the fact that you could easily coast on your beauty and grace alone, you demonstrated substance and integrity in your actions with your husband, your children, and the other women on the show. It was really a different show with you on it. Your values showed through, and not just in a gratuitous charitable fashion. And you have stayed true to your values throughout the show, never taking the lower road like some of the others.

It was difficult to watch your health slowly decline, especially because my journey has paralleled your path. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014. Many of the things that you have experienced I have experienced also. I can’t tell you how valuable it has been to be able to watch your journey play out, as difficult as it has been. I am so grateful that you have stayed on the show to increase awareness in spite of how challenging it most certainly has been for you. Especially when the other ladies began attacking you and questioning your integrity. So many of us have experienced the criticism and disbelief of others as we struggle to understand an illness that we never asked for and don’t deserve. To watch this play out on the show has been (albeit painful) so validating for me and for many others like me, I’m sure.

I am so grateful for your willingness to be filmed during your devastating ordeal. It demonstrates such courage to show up on camera as you are, without makeup, with your hair imperfect, sometimes grouchy, and angry (rightfully so) at your bitchy accusers. In the plastic world of Beverly Hills, you have shown us what it really means to be real. I can only imagine that staying on the show has been an ordeal. It’s a testament to the love that you so freely give that you have endured the show this long. For Lyme sufferers everywhere, who understand exactly what it takes to “show up” for life while suffering from an illness that many do not understand, you give us hope.

Recently when I watched the episode at the Lyme Gala, I was so proud of you and what you have done. For many Lyme sufferers you may be the only voice they have heard that says, “I understand, I’ve been there too”.

I was sad to hear the news of your divorce, but hopeful that it will assist in your healing. My relationship ended right around the same time as yours. Relationships, as you know, can easily become casualties of Lyme disease.

As we journey together through the thick of this, as days, weeks, months and years have passed, we grieve for who we once were and wonder who we are to become. In those times, when the long night is the darkest, I hope you will remember that what you are doing matters. It matters to me, and it matters to the thousands of other Lyme disease sufferers.

With much love and thanks from all of us, for helping us to feel less alone.

Namasté, Yolanda

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