Selena Gomez is no stranger to the living in the spotlight. Since debuting on Barney & Friends at age 7, the actress has catapulted to stardom on TV, in movies, and in the music world. Plus, she’s a charter member of the most famous squad in the world, along with Taylor Swift and Blake Lively—and she even holds the top spot on Instagram, as the single most-followed person on the app (yes, including Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian).
But just because she seemingly has it all doesn’t mean she’s not human. Exhibit A: her struggles with anxiety and depression.
“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.”
In a recent interview with Vogue, the 24-year-old opened up about her ongoing battle with mental health issues and the big (and small) changes she’s made to keep them in check.
During her Revival world tour, the star says she was overcome with feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. “My self-esteem was shot. I was depressed, anxious. I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage, or right after leaving the stage,” she explains. “Basically I felt I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t capable. I felt I wasn’t giving my fans anything, and they could see it—which, I think, was a complete distortion.”
That realization led her to cancel the tour early and head to a three-month-long stint at a psychiatric facility in Tennessee, where she, along with six other “normal girls,” attended daily solo and group therapy to help deal with all facets of mental health. And she surrendered her cellphone during her stay there. Since then, she’s completely given up the reins to her Instagram account, fearing that she’ll get sucked back into the spiral. (Happens to the best of us.)
Post-treatment, Gomez has said she’s never felt better—and continues to keep up her therapy habit in Los Angeles, where she sees her shrink five days a week. And although she’s taking a break from tour and movies, she’s become a huge advocate for dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): a technique developed to treat borderline personality disorder by improving communication, regulating emotions, and incorporating mindfulness practices.
“DBT has completely changed my life,” she explains. “I wish more people would talk about therapy. 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.” (She’s even producing a Netflix miniseries called 13 Reasons Why, which deals with social media pressure and teen suicide.)
Best of all, she’s focusing on being mindful—perhaps with a new beau of hers in tow?—and continuing to keep up her healthy habits, from ginger shots to rest days. “For a change,” she says, “I’m not eager to chase a moment. I don’t think there’s a moment for me to chase.”
From Kristen Bell to Ellie Goulding, many stars have been opening up about their mental health: Find out 4 things Bell taught us about depression. And hear how Goulding’s fitness routine helped her deal with anxiety.