Selena Gomez has been very open about her mental health struggles and feelings of despair as a child, and then young woman, growing up in front of the cameras. But in a new Rolling Stone cover story the Only Murders in the Building star opens up about the depths of her battle against depression and bipolar disorder, subjects she takes on with her signature no-BS style in the new Apple TV+ documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me (Nov. 4).
According to the piece, just minutes into the series, we see Gomez cancelling her 2016 Revival tour early in order to tearfully check-in to a treatment facility, as well scenes in which she is, “unable to get out of bed, scenes of her lashing out at friends, scenes of her roaming her house aimlessly [and] scenes of her coming apart in the middle of a press tour.” In fact, it was so real that up until a few weeks ago Gomez said she considered pulling the plug on the doc.
“Because I have the platform I have, it’s kind of like I’m sacrificing myself a little bit for a greater purpose,” she told the magazine. “I don’t want that to sound dramatic, but I almost wasn’t going to put this out. God’s honest truth, a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I could do it.”
But, she tells RS, sharing the story was important, which might explain why she also revealed some of the most difficult struggles she’s faced in her life off-camera. “I’m going to be very open with everybody about this: I’ve been to four treatment centers,” Gomez said. “I think when I started hitting my early twenties is when it started to get really dark, when I started to feel like I was not in control of what I was feeling, whether that was really great or really bad.”
Those high and low periods sometimes found her not sleeping for days, or convinced that she should buy everyone she knows a car and that she had a gift she wanted to share with the world. That mania, however, would then give way to the lowest lows, which she said would begin with depression and then tip into scary isolation. “Then it just was me not being able to move from my bed. I didn’t want anyone to talk to me,” she said. “My friends would bring me food because they love me, but none of us knew what it was. Sometimes it was weeks I’d be in bed, to where even walking downstairs would get me out of breath.”
And though she said she never attempted suicide, Gomez told RS she spent several years contemplating it. “I thought the world would be better if I wasn’t there,” she said. Between her mental health struggles and a diagnosis of the autoimmune disease lupus that required a 2017 kidney transplant which triggered a potentially fatal complication, Gomez said she worried that the life she’d once dreamt of was not in the cards.
“I grew up thinking I would be married at 25,” she said. “It wrecked me that I was nowhere near that — couldn’t be farther from it. It was so stupid, but I really thought my world was over.” A year after the surgery, Gomez said she began hearing voices, which eventually triggered an episode of psychosis. Though her memories of the period are hazy now, the RS piece describes her ending up in a treatment center and spending “several months in paranoia, unable to trust anyone, thinking they were all out to get her.”
That led to her bipolar diagnosis, which helped her make sense of what had just happened, but also meant she was so heavily medicated that she began to lose her essential self. “It was just that I was gone,” she said of the drugs’ effect on her. “There was no part of me that was there anymore.” A psychiatrist scaled back all but two of the meds and as Gomez began to detox she said she had to “learn how to remember certain words. I would forget where I was when we were talking. It took a lot of hard work for me to (a) accept that I was bipolar, but (b) learn how to deal with it because it wasn’t going to go away.”
Aware that the psychosis could return and that her bipolar diagnosis will have to be managed for the rest of her life, Gomez said after her initial concerns she felt the AppleTV+ doc was a part of her story she wanted to share. “I know it has a big message, but am I the right person to bring it to light? I don’t know,” she recalled wondering. “I wanted someone to say, ‘Selena, this is too intense.’ But everyone was like, ‘I’m really moved, but are you ready to do this? And are you comfortable?’”
She couldn’t bring herself to watch the doc at an Apple+ screening, but she did keep an eye on the audience and immediately sensed the right answer. “I was like, ‘OK, if I can just do that for one person, imagine what it could do,'” she recalled thinking. “Eventually I just kind of went for it. I just said, ‘Yes.’”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.