But for Ally Hilfiger, it was a huge relief. After being very ill for 11 years – misdiagnosed numerous times, scoffed at by doctors, and ultimately deemed insane – it was her psychiatrist in the hospital that finally figured out she had Lyme disease. She told us,
“I knew I wasn’t a crazy person or a drug addict, but my body was physically ill – that wasn’t coming out clearly while I was manic. It was a blessing I was institutionalized.”
Ally, now 31, recently put pen to paper about her harrowing experience and published Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me. The memoir is a riveting read that puts Lyme in a much-needed spotlight (Lyme diagnosis is controversial in the medical community).
Cut to today: She and fiance Steve Hash live in LA’s Silverlake neighborhood (she moved from NY to LA because it’s better for her health) with their 1.5-year-old daughter Harley, and they’ve fully embraced the boho LA vibes: “The biggest rule in our house is to be very positive all the time. We don’t argue. We keep the house happy and full of good vibes. If someone comes in with icky energy, we don’t invite them back. So far, it’s working.”
Read on for her harrowing road to recovery, the man that helped heal her with his unconditional love, and the brilliant relationship advice every single one of us should adopt immediately. Meet the happy, healthy, all-around amazing Ally Hilfiger.
If You Think There’s Even A Chance You Have Lyme
If you know you’ve been bitten by a tick and have been experiencing symptoms, get on a 28-day course of antibiotics – even if the results for Lyme came back negative. The test for Lyme can often come back negative even when you have it. If you can do that in early stages, better chance you’ll beat it. Always be an advocate for yourself.
Her Stint In A Mental Institution
I had Lyme running rampant in my body for 11 years untreated, so it was in every cell and had multiplied and crossed the blood-brain barrier, causing memory loss, vision problems, psychosis, and mania. I had never experienced anything like it. At 18, I was under a lot of pressure shooting the MTV show Rich Girls and graduating from high school. The stress accelerated a manic episode where, for a month, I couldn’t put a sentence together, was speaking a million miles a minute, and was having hallucinations – they put me in a mental hospital. The psychiatrist in the hospital understood Lyme disease symptoms, connected all the dots, and got me a clinical and a blood test diagnosis, confirming it had been in me for a very long time. I was pretty relieved. I haven’t had an episode like that since.
Road To Recovery
Once diagnosed, I went to a lot of doctors and endured many treatments. I was on so many antibiotics for more than 7 years, but I kept relapsing, so my dad suggested we go the natural route. We turned to homeopathy, and it took another 5 years for me to get to a manageable place.
Keeping Things In Check
Even today, my body can’t keep up with my brain. I have so much I want to do and am capable of doing, but my body can’t handle it, so I have to be gentle with myself. I don’t get any infusions at the moment, but I take vitamins and eat really healthy. I keep my sugar and dairy intake to a minimum. I have wine but don’t overdo it. I have to get a lot of sleep. I have to ask for help and say ‘no’ to a lot of things that I’d love to do. It will never go away, as I have long-term persistent Lyme, but if I do all of those things, I can usually keep it at bay.
Living With The Enemy
I live in awareness, education, and knowledge of ticks. Prevention is #1. I spray myself down, wear long sleeves, do tick checks, and don’t climb in crazy tall grass. I love Tick Tock Naturals – it’s extremely effective and very powerful. It’s $20 a bottle, but it’s worth it because it’s 100% organic, and it really works. I love Lydia Hearst’s site Project Lyme dedicated to prevention – it’s a wonderful resource.
On Her Fiance Steve
I met him 6 years ago right when I launched my clothing line NAHM in New York. I had done a really intensive 7-month German homeopathic treatment and had never felt better in my life. I was great for a year and a half and was running my clothing line, and then I crashed, like couldn’t-lift-my-head crashed. I had to close my company, which made me so depressed. Steve went through that with me, and he was amazing. Love and compassion is the healer for everything. His love was so unconditional and still I’ll say, ‘I wish i could…’ and he’ll remind me that I need to slow down. Sometimes you need permission to do that.
I had always wanted to be a mother but never thought I would be able to have children, so I was preparing myself to adopt. When I found out I was pregnant, I was so excited but frantically called doctors because I didn’t want to pass it on to the baby. I was tested up and down, and they promised me I was good. I had a very normal pregnancy except I was put on bedrest towards the end. Steve took me to flea markets in a wheelchair on the weekends – we had fun with it!
I was just in Spain with my dad and family, and I wanted to get back on the design wagon sooo badly. I was so inspired. Being a fashion designer looks so fancy on the outside, but in reality, being a butcher is probably more glamorous. It’s a lot of work and stress. But living in LA, which is so much more chill and slow, and the fact that there are factories downtown, I can see it happening. I want to design the prettiest pregnancy and breastfeeding-friendly clothing!
My therapist told me, ‘If you can put your relationship with your partner first and keep it as strong and stable and healthy as possible, you’ll have a strong, happy child. If that’s not in check, the child will pick up on it and won’t be in a stable environment.’ Steve and I make meals together, eat them together, love each other, and communicate. I’ve seen couples with and without that, and I see the difference in the children.
Together & Separate
It’s important to set aside time for each other and for yourself separately. We have date night once a week where we get out of the house and just have fun together. We also have one night a week where I go out with girlfriends or get a manicure to keep my own identity and feel complete. You have to bake your own cake – your child and partner are the decorations and candles, but you have to take care of you.
And The Obvious…
Have sex. It’s an instant mood lifter. Do it 3 or 4 times a week. If you start getting edgy with your partner, it’s probably because you haven’t had sex in a while. It makes you feel close again and makes everything better.
My dad’s mother had 9 (!!) children. The only advice she gave to my mother was ‘never let your children get overtired’. I live by that rule.
Transparent. I stayed up last night watching 5 episodes in a row! I kept telling myself to go to bed, but it’s just so good. I laughed out loud and cried – it touches on such important issues.