Selena Gomez has finally opened up about the real reason she was forced to take a break from the limelight.
In a recent interview with “Billboard” magazine Gomez discussed her struggles with lupus for the first time. While reports that Gomez was battling the autoimmune disease first broke nearly two years ago, the singer never addressed the claims and her reps wouldn’t confirm or deny any health problems.
Now, after years of speculation –and several reports that she may be dealing with drug and alcohol abuse– the 23-year-old has decided to set the record straight.
“I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke,” Gomez said in the interview, referring to a period in late 2013 and early 2014 when the singer suddenly canceled the Asian and Australian leg of her Stars Dance tour.
The cancellation prompted rumors that she was dealing with addiction and soon after reports started coming in saying Gomez had entered rehab. Her rep at the time confirmed that the singer sought treatment at Dawn at The Meadows recovery facility in Wickenburg, Ariz., for “emotional issues” and “partying,” but specified she wasn’t seeking treatment for substance abuse.
So while Gomez did stay in rehab for two weeks in February 2014, at some point she apparently also underwent chemotherapy to treat her lupus.
“I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again,” she told Billboard.
The Lupus Foundation of America describes lupus as “a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.”
There is no cure for lupus though patients often go through periods of remission followed by flare ups. According to the Cleveland Clinic, chemotherapy usually isn’t the first course of treatment unless diagnosis is severe. Strokes are also one of the more rare symptoms of lupus so for Gomez to have been told she was at risk is pretty serious. Without proper treatment lupus can be life threatening.
While the singer didn’t elaborate on the current status of her health, she did open up to Us Weekly about her mental health.
“This was the first year I ever dealt with anyone talking about my body,” Gomez told the magazine. “I’d land at the airport and people would yell out, ‘You’re fat!’ It was awful. I’ve been working in therapy. Even if I did gain weight, I’m fine.”
Gomez also touched on her body image issues again in the Billboard interview.
“I was in a bikini and got publicly ripped for being overweight,” Gomez said. “I believed some of the words they were saying. When somebody else has your self-esteem in their hands …”
Gomez says she put some of that negativity to good use, revealing that the comments from body-shamers inspired her to pose nude on the cover of new album “Revival.” She further explained that she’s been channeling her frustrations and anger into the music, and credits her critics as one of the driving forces for the album.
“I’m so f–king nice to everybody, and everyone is so vile to me. I’ve been working since I was 7. I’ve been a UNICEF ambassador since I was 17. It’s so disappointing that I’ve become a tabloid story,” Gomez said. “The hate motivated me.”
The full “Billboard” cover story will be released Oct. 8.