Entertainment

Selena Gomez Opens Up About Her Depression And Why She Has A Love Hate Relationship With Instagram

On first glance, it might appear that success has filled Selena Gomez’s life with the kind of freedom and fulfillment that all artists seek from their work. But for 24-year-old Gomez, success created an emotional prison from which she couldn’t escape.

When Gomez realized that she could no longer live up to being the Selena Gomez everyone knew, she decided to make a change.

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SELENA GOMEZ / INSTAGRAM

Gomez spoke to Vogue about the anxieties that come when you’re always expected to be at the top of your game. Constantly burdened by thoughts of inferiority, Gomez told Vogue, “Basically I felt I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t capable. I felt I wasn’t giving my fans anything.”

Gomez continually found herself overwhelmed with bouts of anxiety and panic attacks before and after shows. “I’ve cried onstage more times than I can count,” Gomez told Vogue. Gomez even cut one tour short so she could check into a mental health facility.

When so much has been sacrificed to find the kind of success Gomez has worked for, it would be hard to justify walking away. Unfortunately for Gomez, the burden of it all had finally caught up to her.

To find the peace she had been lacking, Gomez stopped performing and stepped away from her record-breaking Instagram account.

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SELENA GOMEZ / INSTAGRAM

For starters, Gomez has put up a healthy boundary between her and her Instagram account. She told Vogue that the app isn’t even on her phone, an idea that would have been unthinkable months ago. “As soon as I became the most followed person on Instagram, I sort of freaked out,” Gomez told Vogue. “It had become so consuming to me. It’s what I woke up to and went to sleep to. I was an addict.” She added, “I always end up feeling like shit when I look at Instagram.”

And it’s not just a separation from social media that has helped her find healing these days. Gomez gets even further into the details of how she’s finding peace these days, which include learning Spanish, cooking, and sharing her life with non-celebrity friends.

Gomez’s entire interview is worth checking out, especially if you’ve dealt with anxiety and depression.

[MORE] Selena Gomez on Instagram Fatigue, Good Mental Health, and Stepping Back From the Limelight

READ: Selena Gomez Finally Let Us In On Everything She Was Silently Battling

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Confessions of a Buena Madre: ‘I Should Have Listened When My Son Kept Telling Me His Stomach Hurt’

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Confessions of a Buena Madre: ‘I Should Have Listened When My Son Kept Telling Me His Stomach Hurt’

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“Mamá my stomach hurts.”

Growing up I had a lot of unexplained stomachaches and headaches.

“Maybe you just have to go to the bathroom,” my mom would reply to me every time. I was a scrappy, smart, sensitive child, and I could tell that there was something about the way she said it that felt as if she was repeating someone else’s words. As if, someone had said the same thing to her when she was growing up, maybe her dad, or her grandma Lupe. Maybe it was the far-off tone, the way she avoided eye-contact, or maybe it was the the tinge of worry in her voice. It was the way she always sounded when she thought there might be something wrong with me that she could do nothing about.

Still, she did take me to see a doctor at one point who told me that there was nothing wrong. That “it could just be stress.”

Back in those days, in a small town, and growing up on welfare, there was little my mother, or I could do about stress. Kids were not going to stop bullying me at school for being Mexican, “shabby,” or poor. And they would not stop saying things about the color of my skin. Adults were not going to stop asking me “what are you?” We were not suddenly going to have more money or not be living below the poverty level. My mom wasn’t going to stop being sad about how her mom had left their family when she was five, or about having to leave the rest of her family in Los Angeles to escape my dad who beat her and kidnapped me.

Just stress.

We went home from the doctor’s appointment without any practical advice about what to do about the stress.

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The doctor had given it a name, and now I was expected to move on.

I continued having stomachaches and headaches, what we now know can be somatic symptoms of stress or anxiety, but back then because the doctor had said there was nothing wrong with me, my mom thought I might just be a hypochondriac.

But according to a Harvard Health Publishing article from 2010, the relationship between stress or anxiety and stomach pains is easily explained:

“The brain interacts with the rest of the body through the nervous system, which has several major components. One of them is the enteric nervous system, which helps regulate digestion. In life-or-death situations, the brain triggers the “fight or flight” response. It slows digestion, or even stops it completely, so the body can focus all of its internal energy to facing the threat. But less severe types of stress, such as an argument, public speaking, or driving in traffic, also can slow or disrupt the digestive process, causing abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal symptoms.”

Still, despite my own experiences, when I first started hearing, from my son I  copy/pasted my mother’s reaction.

You might think that I would have kept my own experiences of dealing with my own health and anxiety would have prepared me for when my own child began complaining of the same, but it didn’t at first. “Mama, my stomach hurts,” became a common complaint I heard from my son over the years, and somehow, even though I’d experienced such aches and had known them to be very real, didn’t totally or always react the way that I should have. I did encourage him to talk about his feelings and helped him role-play how to handle difficult situations at school, but I often felt or reacted in the same way about my son’s stomach pains in the way that my own mother did to mine: worry, avoid and sometimes dismiss.

As a parent, I made fun of myself for asking my own child if maybe he had to go to the bathroom when he complained of stomach pains, but I also knew that the feelings of nausea that he had those first days of kindergarten and first grade were indeed stress. The kind of stress, as a former pre-school teacher that I knew how to deal. So, when I dropped him off for school on those days that caused him anxiety, I drew on my training as a childcare worker. I spoke with the teacher. I worked hard not to allow him to feel like his anxious feelings about school were bad or wrong, and I let him talk about his feelings until it was time to make a clean break and leave him for the day. I reassured him that I’d be back, and I come back on time.

And yet, my eagerness to be attentive was not always applied or pursue so thoroughly or possibly with enough vigor.

Often when I heard complaints from my son about his stomachaches, I neglected hunting for answers. On occasions when the words “Mama, my stomach hurts” came out of his mouth, I didn’t ask him why? Or question him on whether or not he was feeling anxious or fearful about something. And while I did bring up his recurring stomach pains in the context of doctor’s visits, I did not take him to medical visits for these pains specifically. Mostly because I attributed his pains to his stranger anxiety and complications with making transitions.

What I did not realize at the time, was that stomach pains, or other somatic symptoms of stress, can lead to anxiety disorders and/or depression if left untreated. I also was not aware that there are ways, some that don’t cost money, that are capable of reducing stress and minimizing its effects. And simply knowing that the stomach pains could very well-be stress could minimize the stress and re-direct a family to take steps to reduce or treat stress.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, there are several psychological interventions that can be enacted to reduce stress and ease gastrointestinal pain. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy in order to “recognize and change stress-inducing thinking, relaxation techniques to calm the body, and gut-directed hypnosis, which combines deep relaxation with positive suggestions focused on gastrointestinal function.”

Recently, an article by Awareness Act titled “Children Won’t Say I Have Anxiety, They Say My Stomach Hurts,” caught my eye and motivated me to reach out to my circle of friends about their experiences of dealing with anxiety as parents. Many of my friends commented about how accurately the article described them as children and quite a few pointed out that oftentimes children will complain of being tired or having a headache.

As parents we often find ourselves wishing for a chance to pry open our children’s heads and see just what’s going on inside of their thoughts.

For parents of teenagers, this thought process can be especially true when our children become more quiet and insular and often even withdrawn.  Still, now I realize that sometimes as parents we’d do better to listen and watch. After all, how often do we as adults become withdrawn, tired or evens so filled with nerves in our stomachs that we become irritable and withdrawn ourselves? Over the years I’ve learned que mi hi’jo was trying to tell me how he was feeling all along: anxious and in need of my help.

If he were little again, I’d listen and take him to talk to a professional about his anxieties sooner. I’d also sit with him every day and tell him to close his eyes, take some deep breaths. Then I’d rub his tummy and say quietly, “Sana, sana, colita de rana, si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.

Selena Gomez Is Fighting To Make Sure That Everyone Can Speak Openly And Honestly About Getting Help For Their Mental Health

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Is Fighting To Make Sure That Everyone Can Speak Openly And Honestly About Getting Help For Their Mental Health

selenagomez / Instagram

Selena Marie Gomez (born in Texas in 1992) has been in the public eye for as long as she can remember. She has been a role model for young girls as a singer and an actress and now is involved in more risqué films such as Spring Breakers, a delirious film by indie filmmaker Harmony Korine. Besides having a strong onscreen persona, Gomez has been in relationships with the likes of Justin Bieber, which of course turned the paparazzi attention and cameras to her. Suddenly, when she was barely a teenager her every move was being followed. Her life was sort of predestined to be great when she was named after the great late Selena Quintanilla. However, she has had to deal with divorce (her parents separated when she was five-years-old) and with weak health, as she was diagnosed with lupus, an auto-immune disease, which ultimately forced her to get a kidney transplant. She found strength in her mom. Gomez has said that her mother “was really strong around me. Having me at 16 had to have been a big responsibility. She gave up everything for me, had three jobs, supported me, sacrificed her life for me.” That must provide so much strength for a woman of barely 26 but who has gone through more in her lifetime than many 50-year-olds.

This must not be easy for anyone, even more so for a Latino woman. Gomez knows that she has a microphone and that she can get to other girls and women. “The older I get, the prouder I am to be a woman in the industry. When I was younger and running around all the time on tour, I don’t think I took the time to notice how being a woman in my position is really a gift. I want to make sure I utilize all that power,” the young Latina star told Into the GlossShe has used this position of privilege to raise awareness on mental health issues, including suicide prevention, both as a celebrity and as a producer. She is also a supporter of associations such as Make A Wish (which grants children diagnosed with life-threatening conditions), the Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Ryan Seacrest Foundation. 

Selena Gomez fights for friendships above anything else: girl power.

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Gomez values friendship and spreads the word. She has such loyal friends that one even donated a kidney when Gomez needed a transplant. She says: “People are put into your life for seasons, for different reasons, and to teach you lessons”: Selena, we couldn’t agree more.

She gets politically enraged when it matters.

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Gomez knows that a lot of mental health issues concerning young women are related to the policing of their sexuality and reproductive rights. She gets political when she feels the need to, particularly with issues concerning the mental health and general wellbeing of young women like herself. 

She asks her fans to be strong, but to also look for help when needed.

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Her advice: “I’ve learned there’s power deep down inside yourself, and you can find it when you don’t give up on yourself and when you ask for help.” This is so real it hurts: even someone like her, who in the eyes of her fans might seem to have it all, needs to be humble and honest in reaching out to others when the world seems bleak. There is always someone who cares if you are OK. 

She stands up for migrants.

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Gomez doesn’t get political often, but when she does she always stands up for the minority communities. She has been a vocal advocate for migrant rights and the rights of women. She even wore a 1973 necklace as one of very few Latina celebs speaking up for abortion rights.

She even takes a stand from DACA recipients and Dreamers.

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She has used her social media accounts, which have followers in the millions, to call her fans to action. She is clearly showing the world that she does care and she is paying attention. 

She delivers a message of self-acceptance, which led her to produce 13 Reasons Why.

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Gomez’s mother, Amanda, had her when she was just 16, and then raised her by herself. She was also the one that gave Gomez the book on which the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why is based. The show was controversial because it spoke about mental health issues and suicide, topics that are fundamental to discuss with young vulnerable populations but that remain a taboo. However, Gomez’s message is optimistic. She has said: “I promise you that each and every one of you is made to be who you are and that’s what’s so attractive and beautiful.” Preach! 

13 Reasons Why put mental health issues at the forefront of public media debate.

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“I get it all day, every day, that I’m not sexy enough, or I’m not cool enough, or if I did this I would be accepted… I promise you that each and every one of you is made to be who you are and that’s what’s so attractive and beautiful. Please don’t forget that, even when it gets hard,” she said in an interview for the Huffington PostAnd this is exactly the message that she conveys in her project. Taking on Jay Asher’s literary world, she and the series creative team were able to show mental health and suicide from all possible angles. 

She takes fame with a grain of salt.

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She has been famous for a big portion of her life, but she knows that todo es pasajero, and that at the end who you are does not depend merely on adulation: “You are not defined by an Instagram photo, by a ‘Like,’ by a comment. That does not define you.”

Body positivity is her mantra.

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“I feel very empowered and confident and comfortable with where I am. And I think it took me a long time to get there because, you know, the past year was so interesting because I’ve never been body-shamed before… I did gain weight, but I don’t care,” she said at On Air with Ryan SeacrestThis is a great, positive message for someone who is followed by millions of young women throughout the world, particularly in a day and age when standards of beauty are twisted and self-love is hard to achieve. 

She is an active advocate of girl power.

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Perhaps following the example of her mother, who basically raised her alone while holding down as many jobs as necessary to make ends meet, Gomez says: “I don’t want to become little or hurt or a victim. I want to be strong for girls…I just want them to know that there is an option of standing up for yourself.” Additionally, she was named a United Nations Ambassador in 2009, and in this role, she has worked particularly in empowering vulnerable children by helping provide clean water, education, and medical services. 

You learn from your mistakes.

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Perhaps most importantly, she knows that many see her as a role model and that this brings a huge deal of responsibility. “I’m human, I’m not perfect. I make mistakes all the time, but I guess my job is to keep those mistakes to myself, which I’m already fine doing and just try to be the best I can be for those kids,” she told E! Online.

READ: “13 Reasons Why” Does Much More Than Glorify Suicide, Selena Gomez Explained

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