Selena Gomez has been through a lot in the past few years. From struggling with Lupus to undergoing surgery for a kidney transplant to heartbreak, and having to deal with mental health issues — it definitely hasn’t been easy. But if there’s one thing about Gomez that’s worth noting, it’s that she’s a survivor and even when it feels like she’s at rock bottom, she always manages to find a way to get herself back up. Her new album Rare — which dropped today — is evidence of that. In a recent interview with WSJ magazine, the singer took a moment to shine a light on mental health issues and even shared how taking medication became a total game-changer for her.
“I had low self-esteem and that’s something I work on continuously. But I feel so empowered because I’ve gained so much knowledge about what was going on mentally,” she told WSJ magazine. “My highs were really high, and my lows would take me out for weeks at a time.”
After years of therapy, Gomez realized she needed something more and eventually found a medication that helps her. She claims it’s been life-changing for her.
“I found out I do suffer from mental health issues. And honestly, that was such a relief,” she said. “I realized that there was a way to get help and to find people that you trust. I got on the right medication and my life has been completely changed.”
Selena Gomez has been pretty transparent in the past about her mental health struggles. She has mentioned in numerous interviews how she suffers from depression and anxiety. In 2016, she even canceled part of her Revival tour and spent some time in a mental health treatment facility where she got treatment. But she hasn’t always been this candid about taking meds for her depression and anxiety. It’s refreshing that she’s chosen to not only share this with the world but is really going out of her way to break the negative stigmas associated with mental health medication.
In fact, quite a few celebrities have been opening up about mental health medications and talking about the importance of debunking the misconceptions and breaking the stigmas associated with them, so that people can get the help they really need. Lady Gaga recently sat with Oprah as part of Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour and got real about how she takes meds for mental health.
“I know this is controversial in a lot of ways. But medicine really helped me. And I think a lot of people are afraid of medicine for their brains — to help them — and I really just want to erase the stigma around this because I am sick and saying it over and over again, and also by the way, if your primary care doctor is prescribing you an antidepressant this should not be happening,” Gaga said. “Your primary doctor should be introducing you to a psychiatrist who is an expert in brain medication and what moves me so much in this space and why I want to work so heavily and much more thoroughly through it in the future is because not everybody has access to these things and not everybody has money for these things and I want the money for it, I want the best doctors in the world and I want us to understand the brain and all get on the same page about it so Gen Z doesn’t have to deal with it the way that we are right now. Mental health is a crisis.”
While the dialogue around mental health has definitely revolved in recent years, there is still a lot of fear and stigma associated with taking medication for mental health issues. It’s unfortunately still seen as taboo. There’s a lot of ignorance and false information around mental health medications, and the problem is that it prevents people from getting the proper treatment they might need.
“The stigmatization of mental illness and medication is mostly due to inaccurate information about the lack of education about mental illness, and a great sense of prejudice among society about taking medications and mental illness,” Dr. Veronica M. Rojas, psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at New York University told HipLatina. “There are constant derogatory comments [made] when someone is on medication or a psychiatric disorder is confirmed.”
While therapy might be effective enough for some, others can really benefit from both therapy and medication.
“People are afraid of being called ‘weak’ thinking that anxiety or mental illness is a matter of ‘being tough.’ Moreover, people are also terrified of being seen or called crazy,” Rojas added. “There is a lot of shame and fear about what people might think of them and as a consequence, people tend to keep this a secret from others.”
I think it’s incredibly important that celebrities are opening up about this because the reality is that medication can really help folks out and allow them to live a healthier and balanced life. While there are many ways to treat mental illness these days that doesn’t involve medication, when a patient tries all those modalities and the mental health issue continues, that could be a good indicator that medication might be needed or at least an option that can be considered. We really need to start looking at mental health issues the same way we look at other health issues. If someone you knew had diabetes would you judge them for taking insulin? Of course, not because there’s an understanding that people with type 1 diabetes have bodies that struggle to make insulin themselves and the hormone is necessary for regulating blood sugar levels. We need to look at mental health through the same lens. Brain chemistry for some people can impact their mental health and that’s where medications can be very beneficial. Let’s take the time to educate ourselves around mental health illness so we can give people the support they need to seek out whatever treatment is going to be right for them whether it’s medication or not.