Though Debbie Gibson has been battling Lyme disease since 2013, the singer admits she never lets the illness stop her from living life to the fullest. “I don’t let it define who I am — or keep me down for long,” Debbie, 47, exclusively revealed to Closer Weekly.

However, she reveals it’s changed her. “My immune and nervous system are forever changed,” she confided to Closer at the 2017 Open Hearts Gala on Oct. 21 in Beverly Hills. “I have a new set of circumstances that I live by.”

debbie gibson getty images

The “Electric Youth” songstress was diagnosed with Lyme disease — a debilitating bacterial illness that causes severe exhaustion and memory loss — nearly five years ago. With the help of her boyfriend of almost 10 years, Rutledge Taylor, Debbie has turned to preventative medicine to combat her symptoms. “I go through periods of feeling amazing, virtually pain-free, but I still have days where I feel like a hologram of myself. I become super sensitive to chaos, foods, etc. [A few years ago] at Christmas, I couldn’t even ride a bicycle,” Debbie told Closer.

“It’s hard because I’m not the kind of person to stay at home and act sick! My boyfriend’s greatest wish is to not see me suffer. He dove into researching more about Lyme and an integrative approach with nontraditional therapies, such as meditation,” the ’80s music icon continued. Her advice to others going through the same thing? “Try to get back to basics, like healthy, clean foods,” she says.

Despite her illness, Debbie has continued to work and achieve career milestones. “I continue to live my life to the fullest,” she told Closer. Debbie’s latest gig was as a Season 25 contestant on the hit ABC reality show Dancing With the Stars, but she was voted off during week two. In a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, the singer — who was paired with pro dancer Alan Bersten — revealed DWTS was difficult because of her Lyme disease.

debbie gibson getty images

Debbie and Alan on DWTS.

“[The] randomness the unpredictability of the symptoms [makes dancing on the show] very challenging,” she admitted. “I’ve had days where I said, ‘My ankles aren’t working. I don’t know what we can do today.’ [I] just kinda have to roll with the punches.” She added to Closer, “My body is finally doing what it’s supposed to do.”

For more on your favorite stars, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for exclusive news!