I will admit that I don’t know all that much about Selena Gomez. I know that she’s a Disney Channel alumnus who had her big break around the same time as Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and Demi Lovato, and that’s about it. She’s gone on to make music that has the unique ability to burrow itself into your brain and never leave and make the news for a variety of different things. However, she’s not just a singer. Selena Gomez has been through a lot throughout her career, and there’s a lot we can potentially learn from her. She suffers from mental and physical ailments that make life really hard, and she’s recently made news for talking about those things.
Selena Gomez recently sat down with Vogue to look back on her career and personal, which has seen some ups and downs since she entered the public consciousness. Selena Gomez is a good example of how the nature of celebrity has changed over the years, and she’s also a good example of what it means to be real with your fans in 2017. She’s been upfront about her struggles with her health, both physically and mentally, and there’s a lot that we could stand to learn about her. Here are 15 things you should know about Selena Gomez’s struggle with depression and mental health.
15. She’s Cried Onstage Before
Selena Gomez is no stranger to showing her emotions on the public stage…literally. She cried during a concert in the Indonesia Convention Exhibition arena during her revival tour on July 23rd, 2016. She closed out the concert with “Kill Em With Kindness and got emotional while she was talking. “The next song, before I go home, is a song that’s so important to me,” she told fans. “Because I get really frustrated. I get stupid sometimes. I say things that I don’t mean, or that come out wrong just because I care so badly. But the thing is, at the end of the day, no war in anger was ever won. I do know that deep down in my heart that I have to believe that we can love each other and always be kind no matter what it takes in us. I believe that we can do that, no matter what.” No matter how you feel about her (personally, I feel indifference towards her), this is a pretty brave thing to admit.
14. Tours Are Really Hard For Her
When Selena Gomez sat down with Vogue, she was open and frank about all the ways that tours are a drain on her soul. It got to the point where she’d be overcome by anxiety right before she got on stage and right after she left. “I felt I wasn’t giving my fans anything, and they could see it—which, I think, was a complete distortion. I was so used to performing for kids. At concerts I used to make the entire crowd raise up their pinkies and make a pinky promise never to allow anybody to make them feel that they weren’t good enough. Suddenly I have kids smoking and drinking at my shows, people in their 20s, 30s, and I’m looking into their eyes, and I don’t know what to say. I couldn’t say, ‘Everybody, let’s pinky-promise that you’re beautiful!’ It doesn’t work that way, and I know it because I’m dealing with the same s**t they’re dealing with. What I wanted to say is that life is so stressful, and I get the desire to just escape it. But I wasn’t figuring my own stuff out, so I felt I had no wisdom to share. And so maybe I thought everybody out there was thinking, This is a waste of time.”
13. She’s No Stranger To Panic Attacks
In that same interview, Selena Gomez talked about how she’d react to stress right before getting on stage, or even right after getting off the stage. “Tours are a really lonely place for me,” she explains. “My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage, or right after leaving the stage. Basically I felt I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t capable.” This just goes to show that even when you’re doing something you love, it doesn’t actually negate any issues you might be having in your life. Even accomplishing every dream you’ve ever had won’t fix any issues you’re having with your mental health. The only thing that will really allow you to make headway on those issues is to acknowledge them and put work into making headway on those issues. It’s something that we all learn at some point, and it’s definitely something Selena Gomez knows now.
12. She Has Lupus
2012 was a weird year for Selena Gomez when rumors were swirling that she was doing drugs and even that she might have cancer. Neither of those things was true, but what was is that Selena Gomez has lupus, an immune disease that can be really debilitating. Her diagnosis came totally out of the blue and it kind of shocked the world. To make matters worse, everyone was debating about what could possibly be wrong with her, making the situation that much worse. She had to go through chemotherapy in order to get her lupus under control, which started the whole cancer rumor. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t imagine getting a diagnosis like that as an A-list celebrity. Selena had to take time away from the spotlight because of it. “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”
11. She Has Anxiety
Selena Gomez’s anxiety is bad enough that she had to take time off for it. This is time off that was totally separate from her time off from having lupus, too. She spoke about her struggles with anxiety at the AMAs in a speech that is moving no matter how you feel about her. She’s not the only celebrity to be open about her struggles with anxiety: other celebrities who have come forward are Zayn Malik of One Direction, YouTube star Zoella, and Taylor Swift, who’s a friend of Selena Gomez’s. If you’re a person who struggles with anxiety like them, you might experience a wide variety of symptoms that can really disrupt your life. Anxiety can mess with your breathing, make your stomach act up, and make your chest tight. Sometimes, anxiety attacks have even been confused for heart attacks. Needless to say, it’s not a fun mental illness to deal with.
10. She’s Been To Rehab For Depression
At the end of September 2016, news broke that Selena Gomez was taking time off to help alleviate her depression, and that involved going to rehab. She had to cancel the second half of her Revival tour because of her depression and anxiety and checked herself into rehab to get better. She was there for about two months, in a women’s only facility that was reportedly in a “secluded wooded area.” More importantly, the place she picked wasn’t a center where a lot of celebrities go. Selena picked a place that “is not a huge celebrity center or anything like that, and it’s not somewhere where Selena has any ties.” according to an insider. That insider also said that she picked the facility because of her faith. “The rehab has a Christianity-based track, which might have been appealing given her religious background.”
9. Her Relationship With Justin Bieber Really Messed Her Up
As a woman, I’m no stranger to relationships that blow up in my face with guys who were all wrong for men. However, I count myself lucky because my relationships didn’t blow up on the world stage, and that my ex isn’t Justin Bieber. Their relationship seemed to really mess Selena Gomez up, which honestly isn’t all that surprising. They met in 2009 and by the end of the year, he was serenading her at concerts. They became official in 2011, but split for the first time in 2012 amid cheating rumors. They got back together in 2013 (at least sort of), and they kept writing songs about each other (“Heartbreaker” and “Love Will Remember,” respectively). Everything went to hell in 2016, when the Sofia Riche drama blew up and they got into a weird Instagram comment war before Bieber deleted his Instagram. There’s a lot more strange drama in this saga, but the point is that dating in the public eye is hard, especially when you’re dating a guy who once abandoned a monkey in an airport.
8. She’s With The Weeknd Now
Fortunately, it appears that the Justin Bieber/Selena Gomez drama is behind us. The problem now lies in her new relationship drama with The Weeknd. They were caught making out in viral photos back in January, which wouldn’t have been an issue if Selena wasn’t friends with Gigi Hadid, the sister of The Weeknd’s ex, who is famous for something that I’m actually not too clear on. Regardless, the whole thing with the Weeknd is very much underway now, which has led to that much more drama in Selena Gomez’s life. If you’re in a position to learn anything from this, it’s that you should never mess with the exes of your friends or anyone in your circle unless you’ve discussed it with them first. Even then, you’re in dicey territory and might be bringing more drama in your life than you need. That’s the last thing you want, even if you’re not dealing with mental health issues. Also, this is kind of a personal thing, but if I hadn’t known that these two were dating, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
7. She’s A Spokesperson For DBT
Selena Gomez has come out in support of a type of therapy called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT. She has it herself five times a week, and according to an interview with Vogue, it’s totally changed her life. DBT is a form of therapy that was created to help suicidal people who didn’t respond to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a type of therapy that helps with depression and anxiety. According to the New York Times, Dr. Marsha M. Linehan, the creator of the treatment, recognized that “before her patients could or would change, she saw, they needed to accept themselves and to be accepted, exactly as they were in the present. This dialectic tension between acceptance and change is the root concept of dialectical behavior therapy.” Selena Gomez isn’t suicidal, but she does suffer from depression and anxiety, and DBT helps her manage her symptoms.
6. She’s Producing A Miniseries About Mental Health
Selena Gomez is producing a Netflix miniseries about mental health called 13 Reasons Why. It’s based on a novel of the same name that came out in 2007 (that you should totally read). It’s about a boy named Clay Jensen, who came home from school one day to see a box with his name on it on his front porch. Inside the box is a bunch of tapes recorded by his recently deceased classmate and crush, Hannah Baker. Hannah killed herself two weeks earlier, and the tapes explain the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. The tapes represented thirteen people who affected Hannah’s life. Most of them affected her in a negative way, but Clay was included because he was nice to her. The book is really powerful, so there’s no reason why the series wouldn’t be as well. The subject matter gets into mental health issues and how it’s important to reach out to others, so it would make sense that Selena Gomez would want to be involved with this project.
5. She’s Not The Only Celebrity Speaking Out About Mental Health
There are a lot of celebrities who have come forward with their struggles with mental illness, and there are a lot more who have been advocates for mental health over the years. Just last year, dozens of celebrities have opened up to the world about how they feel about mental health. Lady Gaga came forward with her story about how she was assaulted at 19, for example. Adele opened up last year about her struggles with postpartum depression, and Zayn Malik (another celebrity linked to Selena Gomez) confessed in his autobiography that he’s recovering from an eating disorder. Catherine Zeta-Jones opened up in People about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and Amanda Seyfried told Allure about living with obsessive-compulsive disorder. John Green, the author of The Fault In Our Stars and other books that have made millions of people cry, talked about how his best work comes not when he’s hit rock bottom with his mental illness, but when he’s treating himself well and taking care of himself. They’re just the tip of the iceberg, too.
4. She’s Had Issues With Her Cast Mates Before
When you’re an A-list celebrity, the chances are good that you’re going to have a lot of drama in your life. Between working a very dramatic job and your personal life colliding with that of other people, the levels of drama in your life would be pretty astronomical if you were an A-lister. A lot of the time, even TV writers couldn’t write better drama, which is why people are so fascinated with the lives of celebrities. They make our entertainment and entertain us when they’re not working. Selena Gomez is no exception. Rumors have swirled about her inability to work with her casts, even going back as far as Wizards of Waverly Place. As for her personal life, she’s been caught in a lot of love triangles over the years. First off, there was the drama eight years in the making: the Justin Bieber debacle. Bieber has been linked to almost a sarcastic amount of women throughout his career, and although I cannot understand why Selena Gomez is one of them. She’s currently with the Weeknd, and it can be argued that she stole him from Bella Hadid. However, at least with the Weeknd I can see the appeal, even if I don’t agree with Selena’s decision making.
3. She Had Trouble Breaking Out Of Her Disney Shell
Many stars who’ve come out of the Disney/Nickelodeon machine over the years have had trouble transitioning their PG-rated fame into something longer lasting. Some good examples of people who did it well and without too many bumps in the road are Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, and Hilary Duff. Some good examples of people who didn’t do such a great job with that are Miley Cyrus, Shia LeBeouf and Lindsay Lohan. Selena Gomez falls in the middle of the road on this one. She’s managed to become an adult celebrity without too many issues, but she’s also been mired in gossip since she made the transition to a more adult kind of fame. Fame has a way of changing a person, and it also has a way of making people anxious and depressed, which are things that she struggles with. This isn’t to say that fame automatically will ruin you, but when you’re famous, you definitely need to look out for your mental health.
2. She’s The Most Followed Person On Instagram
One thing that I definitely didn’t know before writing this article is that Selena Gomez is the most followed person on Instagram. That’s a pretty cool thing to have bragging rights about, especially because Instagram has its own crop of celebrities that have major followings of their own. The Instagram drama that she’s been a part of has played out in front of a crowd of 114.2 million people, which is basically the population of a very large country. Social media can be a huge cause of stress. Science has shown recently that selfies are awesome at raising your own self-esteem but do a great job of lowering the self-esteem of those watching you. That’s because when you’re on social media, you’re seeing the curated image of what someone wants you to see rather than who they are. When we start mistaking people’s social media personas as who they really are, we’re left feeling inadequate and small because our lives can never measure up. When you’re the most followed person on a social media network, that effect must be intensified that much more.
1. She’s A Lot More Interesting Than I Gave Her Credit For
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve given Selena Gomez enough credit. When she first came onto the scene, I kind of dismissed her as yet another product of the Disney channel machine who was overshadowed by the likes of Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato. However, she’s a lot more than that. You might not like her music all that much, but her commitment to dealing with her depression and raising awareness for mental illness is admirable. She’s even become a spokesperson for a type of therapy that a lot of people might not have heard of before now. She might have been at the center of a few different celebrity love triangles that have dominated the news cycles over the years, but she’s clearly a lot more than that.