Selena Gomez Says She Has a 'Clean Slate': 'Years of Being Confused and in Love' Were 'Worth It'
The star opened up about her mental health journey in a new interview
Selena Gomez is in "A Sweeter Place."
In a joint interview with her mom, Mandy Teefey, for The Newsette published Tuesday, the star, 28, discussed her decision to be increasingly open about her mental health in recent years in order to take back her own narrative.
"I’m not ashamed," Gomez said of previously seeking treatment for anxiety and depression. "I feel better, and I feel like I can understand a lot of things now.'"
In certain areas of her life, Gomez said the "unique point of view" her mental health journey has given her has served as a strength.
"I feel like being able to just be myself is something really hard, and I’ve had to work on that," she said. "I used to be terrified about creating my own stuff. Now when I’m on set, on a movie or TV show, or working on music, I feel like just being myself is such a gift. Once I started doing it and saw the rewards afterwards, I thought, 'Oh, I made that decision, and I’m really glad!' I feel more free when I’m just myself."
All of the ups and downs and even high-profile relationships made the success of her most recent album, Rare, feel that much more satisfying.
"None of what I’m doing now would have stemmed from the mindset I had before," Gomez said. "My best stuff is happening now. And then the greatest thing ever in my music was 'Lose You to Love Me' … I remember I had a moment where I couldn’t believe it, because the first and second day, the reactions were crazy, and I remember I smiled and I was like, 'That’s why it’s worth it. All of these years of confusion and being in love, and all of this stuff … and it was finally a clean slate.' And it wasn’t even because everyone liked it; it was just a realization of why I went through everything I went through."
If she hadn't focused on her mental health, Gomez — who launched her makeup line, Rare Beauty, in September — said she wouldn't be where she is now.
"I feel like I would have missed so many opportunities in my life if I hadn’t prioritized my mental health," she said. "I think because I’m super happy — still have my days, girl! — but it genuinely makes me so happy to see what I’ve been doing and actually having fun doing it, and then to understand what I am doing for other people, too."
Teefey added: "The fact that Selena thinks that she’s doing her best stuff now that she’s healthier, is a positive message. You can take care of your health and your mental health and still be creative."
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Gomez said she feels lucky to have been raised by a mom "who wasn't afraid to talk about things."
"[Mental illness] didn’t seem like a taboo thing for me," she said. "It was like, 'Oh, okay, I definitely know it’s possible to have mental illness,' so I was much younger when I started therapy ... and it was great, but I was still figuring it out. I think it takes a special person for you to match up with."
For anyone trying to navigate mental health within their own families, Teefey, 44, said "patience, listening and not being in denial" are key.
"At first, I wanted to 'just fix' everything for her … because you don’t want your child to suffer the same things that you’re suffering," she said. "It can be confusing to parents who don’t have a mental illness, [but also] it was confusing for me dealing with my mental health and also trying to understand hers. We went through a lot of ups and downs, but if our ups and downs can help another family, then it’s all worth it."
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Now Gomez — who revealed her bipolar disorder diagnosis earlier this year — is supporting others as they embark on their own mental health journeys with her Rare Impact Fund, which has committed to raising $100 million in the next 10 years to help underserved communities get mental health treatment.
"I’ve always had dreams of having centers like Planned Parenthood, but just dedicated to mental health," she said. "I believe mental health care should be accessible to everyone."