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Selena Gomez is ready to talk about the chaos of the past couple years in the spotlight and the toll it took on her. In a candid discussion with Amy Schumer for Interview magazine, Gomez touched on hitting rock bottom; how at one point, her personal life was out of control; and why people don’t need to worry about her now. She’s on the other side of it.
For context, Gomez publicly went through a turbulent on-off relationship with Justin Bieber from 2010 to 2018—one she later described as emotionally abusive in a January interview with NPR. Bieber and Gomez ended things in spring 2018, and then in June, he started dating Hailey Baldwin again. They got engaged in July 2018 and married in September 2018.
On top of that, Gomez also suffered from lupus, had a “life or death” kidney transplant in 2017, and took multiple breaks from the spotlight to seek treatment for her mental health. She revealed to Miley Cyrus earlier this month that she was diagnosed as bipolar during one of her visits. She learned as much as she could about it: “I wanted to know everything about it, and it took the fear away,” Gomez told Cyrus.
Schumer asked Gomez why she decided to share her personal life on Instagram. Gomez told Schumer it’s because she wanted to take back control of her life’s narrative.
“My intention was never to become a tabloid,” Gomez started. “So when things kind of happened that way, it got out of control. And then I was like, ‘Wait, none of this is true.’ The way the media has sometimes tried to explain things has made it sound really bad, when in reality there’s nothing wrong with the fact that I needed to go away or that I fell in love. I had to start opening up because people were taking away my narrative and it was killing me. I’m so young and I’m going to keep changing, and no one has the right to tell me how my life’s going.”
Gomez knows her journey can help others, although she wouldn’t describe being a mental health care advocate as her calling. “I don’t know if that was ever meant to be my role, but I love people,” she said. “I care, a lot. I’ve gone through a lot of medical issues, and I know that I can reach people who are going through similarly scary things—an organ transplant, or being on dialysis, or going away for treatment. A huge part of why I have a platform is to help people. That’s why I think I’m okay with the magnitude. I mean, I’m not really okay with it—but I’m going to say that I am because it’s worth it. I know that I’m making someone somewhere feel good, or feel understood or heard, and that’s worth it for me.”
Schumer asked Gomez about the moment she felt like she was getting herself back after her Justin Bieber heartbreak and could write “Lose You to Love Me.”
“I wrote it at the beginning of last year, and had just gotten out of treatment,” Gomez recalled. “It was a moment when I came back and I was like, ‘I’m ready to go into the studio with people I trust and start working on songs.’ There was an air around it where people were very happy, because it was like I was going to finally be me. But I didn’t necessarily see it that way at the time. When I wrote the song, I was basically saying that I needed to hit rock-bottom to understand that there was this huge veil over my face.”
Toward the end of the discussion, Schumer asked point blank whether people should be worried about Gomez, given all she’s gone through. “Millions of people have so much love for you, and when someone meets you, they can see your kindness and your intelligence and your vulnerability,” Schumer said. “I think people worry about you. I’ve worried about you. Should we be worried about you?”
“No,” Gomez replied. “I’ve gone through some really difficult stuff, and because of those moments, whether I liked it or not, a picture was painted of my life. That was scary because I didn’t want it to affect my career.”
“You didn’t want what to affect your career? Your personal life?” Schumer asked.
“Yeah,” Gomez said. “It got out of control when I was super young. I think it showed people that I was weak in certain moments, and that I had troubles. Some people just get off on building people up and then trying to bring them down.”
“I’ve never witnessed any backlash to you,” Schumer replied. “When you say weaknesses, I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
“I guess what I mean is that people worry about me because I’ve had some trouble in the past,” Gomez admitted. “And it’s kind, it is. But I’m okay. I deal with what I deal with, and if I feel like I’m having a rough week or I’m not up to doing something, I don’t do it.”
You can read Gomez and Schumer’s full discussion here on Interview.