For as much as most people worry about their bodies and dieting, imagine if all of a sudden you couldn't eat foods that were a regular part of your diet, and as a result, you couldn't stop losing weight?
That's what happened to 1980's pop icon and the voice of the electric youth Debbie Gibson, who is opening up about her struggle with a painful condition she's been battling for more than a year.
"Last year I was diagnosed with Lyme disease," Gibson, 43, wrote on her blog last week. "It is an elusive disease that disguises itself as many other things and creates a lot of pain and discomfort along the way."
Gibson tells her fans she decided to go public after receiving countless comments on her seemingly rapid weight loss after posting pictures from her concerts in Santiago, Chile.
"I would come across comments about my weight and appearance," she wrote. "Some were just plain mean and ignorant. I want to urge you all… NEVER JUDGE… ANYONE! You never know what someone is going through."
"There are over 300,000 cases of Lyme each year and only 10 percent are picked up," Dr. Robert Bransfield, clinical professor at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical school, told ABC News. "As a result, many people go on to late stage symptoms that could have otherwise been avoided."
The singer says she's not sure where she contracted the disease, but early last spring she began to experience unusual reactions to food.
"I just kept resting and meditating and eating a ton of protein and fat to try to keep weight on… egg yolks, red meat, you name it. But the weight kept failing off," Gibson explained.
At one point, Gibson said her weight got so bad she decided to get Botox to tighten her loosening skin, which resulted in a painful reaction.
"Both the trauma of the needles and the toxin itself wreaked absolute havoc on my physical and mental state," she wrote, adding she "felt extremely fragile as well as emotional and depressed. I could barely walk. I started feeling numbness and tingling in my hands and feet."
Gibson is not the first celebrity to battle Lyme disease publicly. Earlier this year, "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Yolanda Foster told "Good Morning America" just how crippling the disease can be.
"I couldn't read or write or watch TV or anything," Foster, 50, said. "I get emotional just thinking about it."
"If you're one of those individuals with a severe debilitating form, you need to aggressively pursue treatment and seek second opinions," said Bransfield.
- Disease & Medical Conditions
- Debbie Gibson
- Lyme disease