Selena Gomez opens up about mental health and childhood fame: ‘I felt trapped’

Kerry Justich
·3 mins read

It was during an Instagram live show with Miley Cyrus back in April that Selena Gomez first revealed that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in front of a real-time audience. Now, she’s opening up about how she’s privately come to terms with her mental health issues after over a decade of living her life in the spotlight.

“I have always had so many different emotions and I didn't know how to control them quite well,” she told Allure for the October 2020 cover. “It was complicated. But I think I'm happy to understand it. Once I did find out more about who I was, I was proud. I also felt comfortable knowing that I wasn't alone, and I was going to get through it. So I will always be passionate about that. It's something I will continue to talk about.”

The actress, singer and now beauty entrepreneur previously told WSJ Magazine that Cyrus’s show Bright Minded felt like the right place to reveal her latest struggles during quarantine, while so many were craving “realism.” Despite making headlines with the announcement, Gomez told Allure that part of how she deals with the emotional ups and downs is spending time away from social media and avoiding Google. “I honestly can't,” she said. “I'm strong in a lot of ways, but I think I just have way too much of a sensitive heart.”

This is something that Gomez, who stepped into fame at the ripe age of 14, has learned the hard way, after becoming one of the Disney Channel’s biggest stars. And while she reflects fondly on her years on Wizards of Waverly Place, she also reflected on how quickly everything changed when it came to fame.

“My personal life was out everywhere,” she said. “It felt very claustrophobic and just... I felt very trapped.”

Even when it came to deeply personal health issues like her lupus diagnosis and undergoing a kidney transplant, Gomez explained that she was still a target for public scrutiny. “I was dealing with a lot of medical problems, so I fluctuated in weight a lot,” she said, referring to criticism of her body. “It was just unfair for someone to handle.”

Despite the insecurities, Gomez continued to act in a way that she felt pressured to throughout her early career, including being overtly sexual in music videos. “There was pressure to seem more adult on my album, Revival. [I felt] the need to show skin... I really don't think I was [that] person,” she said. “I just did things that weren't really me.”

Now, in her late 20s, Gomez seems to have figured out just how she wants to use her platform, as she has taken part in producing thought-provoking projects like 13 Reasons Why and Living Undocumented. The star has also dedicated her social media to bring attention to leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement. Even the launch of her own brand called Rare Beauty is a result of Gomez’s dedication to leave a positive mark on the industry.

“I would definitely like to say I'm an entrepreneur. ...But I’m new,” she said. “I am in full control of my life and everything that I do, what is out there, everything. So I would like to say, yes. I'm in charge of everything in my life.”

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