Selena Gomez opens up about lupus battle and Justin Bieber heartbreak

Selena Gomez has spoken candidly about overcoming her mental health struggles in the face of upsetting challenges.

During an interview at the Twilio 2023 SIGNAL conference on 23 August, the 31-year-old singer touched on the trying journey she faced after being diagnosed with lupus - an autoimmune disease which prompts the immune system to attack the body’s tissue and organs.

Following her initial diagnosis at around 16 or 17 years old, the Disney Channel alum said she learned to understand that both negative and positive situations are meant to happen for a reason. “I don’t know where I adopted the attitude. But it’s helped me feel better in my life,” Gomez remarked, per Elle. “And the following is not a pity party. This is just how I think.”

When it comes to the physical health struggles she’s endured since discovering her lupus, Gomez considered the entire process to be “brutal” and she “didn’t enjoy it at all”. Amidst the pain and exhaustion, Gomez said she still found self-purpose in having the autoimmune disease.

“Cut to a few years later, I was able to visit a child in the hospital, and they would not look at me until I said I have lupus too,” she explained. “And that’s when I knew that that happened to me because I could do that moment.”

In 2017, the Only Murders in the Building actor had to undergo a kidney transplant, receiving the organ from her close friend Francia Raisa. When speaking about the experience, Gomez noted: “Then there was the kidney transplant I walked through, and all these things that may seem like they could bring someone down. I try my hardest to say at least they’re not alone, and if I keep going, hopefully that means someone else can keep going because I don’t want to always do it. But I want to for them more so than for myself sometimes.”

“But I’m a work in progress, and it’s just one day at a time,” she continued. On her emotional trials, Gomez touched on the heartbreak she experienced after her split from singer Justin Bieber - which led to a number of hit songs, including “Lose You to Love Me”. The track reached the Billboard Hot 100, as Gomez sang about the aftermath of finding herself again outside of a relationship.

“So then when I was going through heartbreak, I immediately, you know, wrote my best music and wanted to be there for every woman or man or whoever, you know, going through that journey,” she recalled. “I felt I didn’t get a respectful closure, and I had accepted that, but I know I needed some way to just say a few things I wish I had said.”

The “Wolves” singer continued: “It’s not a hateful song; it’s a song that is saying – I had something beautiful, and I would never deny that it wasn’t that. It was very diffiuclt and I’m happy it’s over. And I felt like this was a great way to just say, you know, it’s done, and I understand that, and I respect that, and now here I am stepping into a whole other chapter.”

Gomez and Bieber confirmed their relationship in 2011, until November 2012 when they called it quits for the first time. In 2017, the pair was reportedly back together. However, they officially broke up in March 2018, about six months prior to Bieber tying the knot with his current wife, Hailey Bieber.

In 2020, Gomez opened up about their tumultuous relationship to NPR, in which she referred to herself as a “victim to certain abuse”.

“I’ve found the strength in it. It’s dangerous to stay in a victim mentality. And I’m not being disrespectful, I do feel I was a victim to certain abuse,” she told the outlet, emphasising that the “abuse” was emotional.