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Selena Gomez reveals severe toll of her mental illness and lupus struggles while covering Elle

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 start 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

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'

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.’   

Fighter: Although she feels stronger today, she admitted that 'there could have been a time when I wasn’t strong enough, and would have done something to hurt myself'

Fighter: Although she feels stronger today, she admitted that ‘there could have been a time when I wasn’t strong enough, and would have done something to hurt myself’

Hollywood glamor: The singer is the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe in several of the images from her Elle shoot

Hollywood glamor: The singer is the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe in several of the images from her Elle shoot

Hollywood glamor: The singer is the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe in several of the images from her Elle shoot 

At home: Speaking about her 2018 bipolar disorder diagnosis, Selena said that it came as a relief, because it 'explained so much' about what she had been going through

At home: Speaking about her 2018 bipolar disorder diagnosis, Selena said that it came as a relief, because it ‘explained so much’ about what she had been going through 

When Selena first sought treatment for mental health following her lupus diagnosis in 2014, their 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.  

In August 2016, she took a break from her career to deal with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. In 2017, she was hospitalized for kidney failure and underwent a kidney transplant. She later revealed her friend Francia Raisa was the donor. 

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.    

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?”‘

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 last year, 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 make her feel ‘equal parts terrified and relieved,’ explaining she was terrified because the veil was lifted but relieved that 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.’


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