Emily Strohm
August 23, 2017 08:35 AM

Yolanda Hadid has spent the last five years of her life fighting Lyme disease and tirelessly searching for a cure, but in her new memoir Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisibility of Lyme Disease, the former Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star opens up about how her illness once drove her to contemplate suicide.

In 2012, Hadid, 53, was diagnosed with severe, chronic neurological Lyme disease after a Belgium doctor discovered an active infection in her brain. Despite antibiotics, her condition drastically got worse and symptoms like joint pain, exhaustion, insomnia and anxiety plagued her daily life. Simple things like answering an email became difficult and her fatigue was so severe walking from the bedroom to the bathroom was nearly impossible.

Her illness eventually forced her to spend 22 hours a day in bed. “I’m such a fighter, but I had to surrender,” she says in this week’s issue of PEOPLE.

  • For more on Yolanda’s battle with Lyme disease, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Two years after her diagnosis, Hadid was on a trip to Florida with then husband David Foster when she could no longer take the pain.

“I take off my clothes and slip into the dark blue ocean, which is cool and comforting,” she writes in her book, out Sept. 12. “The waves gently wash over my naked body, and I can feel the current tugging at me. Tears pour out of my eyes, roll across my cheeks, and meld with the salt water as I try to still my mind to become one with the water’s ebb and flow.”

Christian Witkin

“God please just take me away in a wave. I can’t live like this one more day. Please carry my body away. I just want to disappear,” she writes. “My next thought is a clear image of my three children. It shifts my consciousness immediately and that’s the only thing that keeps me from letting myself drift and drown.”

Now more focused than ever to regain her health, Hadid is in what “feels like remission” and she’s focused on her family, recovery and finding a cure.

As difficult as these past five years have been, I am so grateful that this journey has led me to living in the light,” she says. “I have had it all and lost it all, only to realize that less is more, money can’t buy you health or happiness, and one day at a time is good enough.”

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