Selena Gomez Reveals New Details about Her Physical and Mental Health

After controversy, failed diagnoses and suspension of activities, we now have Selena Gomez's word on her health. How does she live with lupus and bipolar disorder?
Selena Gomez Reveals New Details about Her Physical and Mental Health
Leonardo Biolatto

Written and verified by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Last update: 25 November, 2022

After 6 years of filming, Selena Gomez’s documentary has been released on Apple Tv+ and brings to light interesting revelations about the singer and actress’ health. In an intimate look, this audiovisual account immerses us in little-known aspects of her life.

Although most of the audience recognizes the story of her relationship with Justin Bieber and the often-discussed tour cancellation in 2016, we now have first-hand explanations. At just 30 years old and with a stellar career, the Texan has had to deal with massive fame and difficult-to-control illnesses.

In the documentary My mind & me we dive into her grief over her bipolar disorder. Different treatments couldn’t work and her ups and downs were so notorious that her strength left her on many occasions.

How was Selena Gomez’s documentary filmed?

Alek Keshishian was the director of this intensive 6-year follow-up of Selena. Born in Lebanon and educated at Harvard, the filmmaker had already collaborated with the singer on various music video projects.

Many may remember him from a 1991 documentary about Madonna. Titled Truth or Dare in English, it was marketed in Spanish as A la cama con Madonna. Therefore, the format is typical of her storytelling.

My mind & I begins in 2016. Selena Gomez is rehearsing for the Revival tour and has already been diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus.

The pressure of dealing with the physical illness plus some mental health symptoms breaks her down. Reaching the breaking point, she needs to suspend her performances and take some time to withdraw from the maelstrom that haunts her.

Her shows are suspended due to the mental health crisis. The official communiqués speak of the progression of lupus and the lack of strength to make the trips. The truth seems to be a mixture of situations and circumstances that would be an excessive burden for any human being, whether celebrity or anonymous.

In the process observed in the Selena Gomez documentary, the revelations about the mental labyrinth of the singer serve to better understand the pressure under which she lived and the ups and downs of her health condition. Outwardly shocking concerts are seen, but in the film, she cries in the dressing room after the last performances before the 2016 breakup:

The pressure is overwhelming. -Selena Gomez

Selena Gomez’s revelations about bipolar disorder

Selena Gomez’s documentary is an intimate look at bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder, by its very name, is a mental condition in which a person alternates extreme mood swings. It goes from a noticeable depression to manic excitement.

When the depressive period occurs, the patient is sad, can’t concentrate, stops eating, loses weight because of it, feels lacking in energy and suicidal thoughts may appear. Selena comments in the film that she did not plan suicide, but she did hear some voices suggesting that it was better that she did not exist.

These auditory hallucinations lead her to an erroneous diagnosis of psychosis, which was later corrected to bipolar disorder. In other words, on top of her physical condition (lupus), she now has to deal with a severe mental disorder, as well.

This is because, apart from the depressive period, the manic stage of bipolar disorder is not healthy either. Patients go to the extreme of hardly sleeping, doing one activity after another, spending money excessively, and often act recklessly or use intoxicating substances, such as drugs.

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Extreme fatigue

The actress was unable to do almost any activity at a very high point in her career. Her days were spent lying down, not even wanting to eat.

“Sometimes I would spend weeks in bed, to the point where even walking down the stairs left me breathless.” -Selena Gomez, for Rolling Stones

Her friends would visit her and try to cheer her up. However, she found no meaning in this support. They would bring her food to force-feed her. However, despite the supportive social network, there was no way to sustain her spirits.

This spreading fatigue that limits daily actions is a difficult burden for anyone to bear. It’s partly explained by the depressive state, but the effect of lupus should not be overlooked, either.

Systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE is an autoimmune disease in which certain antibodies attack the patient’s own tissues. The symptoms are wide-ranging and almost always relate to the physical plane, although there is research that has attested to the mental health effect of the disease.

I found that anxiety, panic attacks, and depression can be side effects of lupus, and that can present its own challenges. -Selena Gomez

With depressive episodes, taking medication in noticeable amounts, the stress of public exposure, and antibodies doing their thing, fatigue is inevitable. And we’re not talking about a fatigue that can simply be solved by sleeping. Patients with the problem report a kind of immeasurable weight that crushes them against the bed or chair and doesn’t let them be.

Selena Gomez and fatigue
Extreme fatigue in lupus and depression are much more intense states of tiredness than the usual sleep, for example.

Selena Gomez’s revelations about lupus

One of Selena Gomez’s most dramatic moments has been the kidney transplant she needed. Lupus has the ability to affect kidney tissue.

This antibody attack generates an inflammation that can be very serious. It does this to such an extent, that it evolves into kidney failure and the only solution is a transplant.

Selena Gomez received a kidney from her friend Francia Raísa in 2017. However, the documentary seems to exclude this fact and there’s almost no mention of the donor in the 6-year journey that has been filmed. This is something that caught the attention of many fans.

The two young women’s friendship was notorious and recognized in both an intimate and public environment. In fact, it was known to such an extent that when Selena receives the Billboard Woman of the Year award, her words were directed to Raísa.

I think this should have been won by Francia for saving my life. -Selena Gómez, at the Billboard awards

Beyond the discussion and rumors, the transplant makes it clear that the singer’s life involves the repeated intake of medication. This includes psychotropic medications for bipolar disorder and a series of drugs to control lupus and reduce the possibility of transplant rejection.

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A look ahead

Selena Gomez’s documentary reveals, as expected, intimate issues. With the stress of being a global star, the absences, fears, and dangers of such a life are always present.

At one point in the film, she talks about feeling like a product. Record labels and television production companies use her, make demands on her, and the boundary between public and private is blurred.

In this game, which some will assume to be typical of the audiovisual industry, bipolar disorder is a both metaphor and something important to reflect upon. We find the ecstasy of the stage and mania, as well as the loneliness of the end of concerts and depression. There are also energy-charged words in interviews and extreme fatigue in the intimacy of her home.

Selena Gomez has always wanted to promote her struggles as a path of self-knowledge and self-esteem that other women can follow. The documentary about her last 6 years points in that direction about the end: it’s about living with physical and mental illness, not just surviving.

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  • Carvalho, Andre F., Joseph Firth, and Eduard Vieta. “Bipolar disorder.” New England Journal of Medicine 383.1 (2020): 58-66.
  • Tondo, Leonardo, Gustavo H Vazquez, and Ross J Baldessarini. “Depression and mania in bipolar disorder.” Current neuropharmacology 15.3 (2017): 353-358.
  • Zhang, Lijuan, et al. “Prevalence of depression and anxiety in systemic lupus erythematosus: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMC psychiatry 17.1 (2017): 1-14.

The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.