You wouldn't know it to look at her, but Ally Hilfiger has been battling a serious disease for decades.
Hilfiger, the daughter of American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and the star of MTV's early '00s reality series "Rich Girls," spent the majority of her childhood living with Lyme disease. But as she details in her memoir "Bite Me," out earlier this year, the worst part were the constant misdiagnoses that prevented her from getting the treatment she desperately needed.
"I was misdiagnosed with everything from growing pains to fibromyalgia and MS," says Hilfiger, who now knows she actually contracted Lyme disease at age 7. "The treatments weren't working, and they didn't make sense."
According to Hilfiger, though, it took another decade until everything came to a head. "I had a nervous breakdown and I ended up in a psychiatric hospital," remembers Hilfiger, who explains that it was at that very hospital, at age 18, when her doctors finally decided to test for Lyme disease.
"They [sent] me to a Lyme-literate doctor who was able to read between the lines of blood tests, and actually, concretely say that I indeed had Lyme disease for a very long time, that it spread through my body into my brain."
Nowadays, Hilfiger tells us she's managing much better, but she's not about to let that stop her from spreading awareness of the disease.
"I think that's one of the biggest lessons that I've learned is not letting the symptoms go on for too long without saying anything," Hilfiger tells FNM. "I used to think that it was a weakness to admit that I was feeling ill, and now I actually consider it a strength to ask for help and do something about it."
Watch the rest of our interview with Hilfiger above for more about her battle with Lyme disease, then pick up her memoir "Bite Me," available now.