Last summer, Selena Gomez announced that she was taking time out from music to focus on her mental and physical health, after suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and depression related to lupus. Now, the 24-year-old singer has opened up about her experience of going into therapy.
Gomez, who is on the cover of the April issue of US Vogue, tells the magazine that she checked into a treatment facility in Tennessee after cancelling the end of her Revival tour in August.
“I was depressed, anxious,” she says of her time on tour. “I started to have panic attacks right before getting on-stage, or right after leaving the stage.”
Gomez spent 90 days at the treatment centre, undergoing individual and group therapy with six other women. She says that the sense of female camaraderie was a vital crutch in getting her through those three months.
“You have no idea how incredible it felt to just be with six girls,” she says. “Real people who couldn’t give two shits about who I was, who were fighting for their lives. It was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but it was the best thing I’ve done.”
During her time in therapy, Gomez also gave up her mobile phone: no small feat for the most followed person on Instagram (113 million followers and counting). She says that she no longer enjoys spending time on social media.
“As soon as I became the most followed person on Instagram, I sort of freaked out,” says Gomez. “It had become so consuming to me. It’s what I woke up to and went to sleep to.”
“I was an addict, and it felt like I was seeing things I didn’t want to see, like it was putting things in my head that I didn’t want to care about,” she continues. “I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram.”
As a result, Gomez says, she’s currently “kind of under the radar” on Instagram; “ghosting it a bit”. She recently deleted the photo sharing app from her phone, and no longer knows the password to her account after handing over control to her assistant. (Incidentally, the singer is not alone in feeling as though her mental and emotional health were being negatively impacted by Instagram: several psychological studies have suggested a link between excessive social media use and low self-esteem.)
After completing three months of inpatient treatment, Gomez made an appearance at the American Music Awards in November, where she accepted the Favourite Pop/Rock Female Artist award and made a powerful speech in which she urged her fans to take care of their mental health.
The singer tells Vogue that she still sees her therapist five days a week, and is an advocate of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy – a technique originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder, but which is now used more widely to help people improve their communication skills, regulate emotions and incorporate mindfulness practices into their everyday lives.
“I wish more people would talk openly about therapy,” she says. “We girls, we’re taught to be almost too resilient, to be strong and sexy and cool and laid-back; the girl who’s down. We also need to feel allowed to fall apart.”
Main image: Rex Features