Selena Gomez reveals severe toll of her mental illness and lupus struggles, admitting there ‘could have been a time when I would have hurt myself’ – but says being diagnosed as bipolar ‘lifted a huge weight off her’
- The 29-year-old appears on the cover of Elle’s September issue, which focuses on the Latinx community, and sees the singer taking on the role of guest editor
- In an interview with the publication, Selena discussed the toll that her physical and mental illnesses have taken on her, as well as her ‘very public heartbreaks’
- Selena revealed in 2015 that she had been diagnosed with lupus and had gone through chemo to treat it, and in 2017 she had to undergo a kidney transplant
- She battled anxiety, depression, and panic attacks as a result of her lupus and in 2016 she announced she was ‘taking some time off’ to focus on mental health
- The singer and actress was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2018 and said the news came as a relief to her because it ‘explained so much’ about her struggles
- Speaking to Elle, she confessed that all of those struggles, combined with her very public breakups ‘should have taken her down’
- Selena’s on-again, off-again relationship with Justin Bieber was the source of much public interest, as was her romance with singer The Weeknd
Selena Gomez has laid bare the severe toll that her mental health struggles and lupus battle took on her, admitting that her illnesses and past public heartbreaks ‘honestly should have taken me down’.
The 29-year-old, who revealed in 2015 that she had been diagnosed with lupus – for which she had to undergo chemotherapy and a kidney transplant – opened up about her mental illness as the cover star of Elle’s first-ever Latinx issue.
Looking back on her physical and mental diagnoses, the singer seemed to voice surprise that she had managed to overcome everything that she’s had to face, saying: ‘My lupus, my kidney transplant, chemotherapy, having a mental illness, going through very public heartbreaks – these were all things that honestly should have taken me down.’
Selena first spoke of her mental health struggles in 2016, when she announced that she was taking a break from work in order to deal with the anxiety, depression, and panic attacks that she had been suffering from as a result of her lupus.
Speaking out: Selena Gomez has opened up about the severe toll that her mental health struggles and lupus diagnosis had on her, while starring in a cover shoot for Elle
Star power: The 29-year-old covers and guest edits the publication’s first-ever Latinx issue, in which she discusses the steps she took to protect her mental health
Battle: Selena confessed that dealing with her lupus – which required chemotherapy and a kidney transplant – as well as her bipolar disorder ‘should have taken her down’
In 2018, she revealed that she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, news that she said came as something of a relief because it helped to ‘explain so much’ about everything she had been through in the years prior.
‘I felt a huge weight lifted off me when I found out,’ she told Elle. ‘I could take a deep breath and go, “Okay, that explains so much.”‘
But while Selena has since found ways to protect her mental health – including deleting all social media apps from her phone – she admitted there was a darker time when she felt unable to cope with all of her struggles.
‘Every time I went through something, I was like, “What else? What else am I going to have to deal with?”‘ she recalled, adding: ‘There could have been a time when I wasn’t strong enough, and would have done something to hurt myself.’
When Selena first sought treatment for mental health following her lupus diagnosis in 2014, there was speculation that she had gone to rehab for substance abuse.
‘I don’t even know what they really believed I was doing – drugs, alcohol, running around, partying,’ she said. ‘The narrative was so nasty.’
Selena’s relationship with Justin Bieber was also a source of much public interest at the time. Their every move was scrutinized as they dated on and off from 2011 until 2018.
The years following her lupus diagnosis were difficult as she struggled with her physical and mental health as well as heartbreak.
Greatest gift: In 2017, Selena was hospitalized for kidney failure caused by lupus and underwent a kidney transplant – her friend Francia Raisa was the donor
Honest: In September 2017, Selena announced on Instagram that she underwent a life-saving kidney transplant over the summer while sharing a photo of her scar
Close as can be: Francia walked the red carpet with Selena at the Billboard Women in Music event in November 2017 following their recovery from the kidney transplant
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes a person’s immune system attack healthy cells causing damage.
There is no known cure and, according to the Lupus Research Alliance website, it is most often diagnosed in young women between the ages of 15 and 44.
In 2017, Selena was hospitalized for kidney failure caused by lupus and underwent a kidney transplant – her friend Francia Raisa was the donor.
She showed her love for Francia earlier this year, tweeting: ‘Thank you for blessing me. I am forever grateful to you.’
Selena’s boyfriend at the time, The Weeknd, reportedly stayed by her side throughout the ordeal. The couple dated for 10 months in 2017 before going their separate ways.
Confident: Three years after Selena’s kidney transplant, she proudly showed off her scar on social media, admitting she used to intentionally wear clothes to cover it
‘Forever grateful’: Selena showed her love for Francia on Twitter earlier this year
The songstress was the most-followed person on Instagram at the time, but she recalled struggling with the negativity that she saw in the comments.
‘What’s the purpose of this?’ she would ask herself, explaining: ‘I’m like, “I’ve got to do something [more]. After I’m gone, I want people to remember me for my heart.”‘
In 2017, the same year she had her kidney transplant, she handed her social media accounts over to her assistant. While she still provides content for her posts, she doesn’t access the accounts. In fact, she doesn’t even know her own Instagram password.
‘I don’t have it on my phone, so there’s no temptation,’ she said. ‘I suddenly had to learn how to be with myself. That was annoying, because in the past, I could spend hours looking at other people’s lives.
‘I would find myself down nearly two years in someone’s feed, and then I’d realize, “I don’t even know this person!” Now I get information the proper way. When my friends have something to talk about, they call me and say, “Oh, I did this.’ They don’t say, “Wait, did you see my post?”‘
First love: Selena’s on-again, off-again relationship with Justin Bieber was the source of much public interest over the years. They started dating in 2011 and broke up for good in 2018
Old flame: Selena also dated The Weeknd for 10 months in 2017, and he reportedly stayed by her side during her kidney transplant recovering
Selena was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2018 after a visit to McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility and neuroscience research center in Massachusetts.
Speaking to Miley Cyrus on her Bright Minded livestream in 2020, the singer said she was grateful to finally find out what has caused her suffering for so many years and wanted to gain all the knowledge she could about the condition.
Selena said the diagnosis made her feel ‘equal parts terrified and relieved,’ explaining she was terrified because the veil was lifted but relieved that she finally understood why she suffered from depression and anxiety for so many years.
‘When I have more information, it actually helps me, it doesn’t scare me once I know it,’ she said. ‘When I was younger, I was scared of thunderstorms and my mom bought me all these books on thunderstorms and she was like, “The more you educate yourself on this, the more that you’re not going to be afraid.”
‘It completely worked. That’s something that helps me big time.’
Stepping back: Selena relinquished her social media passwords to her assistant in 2017 to focus on her mental health. While she still provides content, she no longer posts herself
Disciplined: ‘I don’t have it on my phone, so there’s no temptation,’ she said of staying off social media
In January 2020, she hinted that she was suffering from bipolar disorder when she told WSJ magazine: ‘My highs were really high, and my lows would take me out for weeks at a time,
‘I found out I do suffer from mental health issues,’ she said.
And in an interview with NPR the same month she revealed that she’s now on the right medication she needs to keep healthy.
‘I feel great, yeah. I’m on the proper medication that I need to be on, even as far as my mental health. I fully believe in just making sure you check in with your doctors or therapist.
‘That’s something I will have to continue to work on. Yes, I don’t think I just magically feel better. I have days where it is hard for me to get out of bed, or I have major anxiety attacks. All of that still happens.’
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