The multi-talented Selena Gomez has successfully made the transition from a Disney Channel starlet to a well-respected actor, musician, business owner, and executive producer. But she’s also endured numerous hardships along the way. In 2017, for example, Gomez took to Instagram to let fans know about her scary experience with lupus. The “Only Murders in the Building” star has also been transparent about her mental health struggles. Along with these challenges, Gomez further endured a very public breakup when she and her superstar ex-boyfriend, Justin Bieber, ended their seemingly tumultuous on-and-off relationship — but more on all of this below.
Despite all of the difficulties the former Disney star has experienced, she doesn’t want these hardships to define her. “I don’t want people to see me as just sad and hurt. I didn’t want that anymore,” Gomez said about her album “Rare” during a 2020 Rolling Stone interview. “I wanted people to know that I experienced something real,” she added, “and that part of me is over.”
As you revisit these tragic details about Selena Gomez, you may find the star’s career accomplishments are even more impressive given all that she’s been through.
Selena Gomez’s lupus complications led to a kidney transplant
Selena Gomez shocked fans when she took to Instagram in September 2017 to reveal she had undergone a kidney transplant due to complications from lupus. According to the National Research Center on Lupus, lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation anywhere in the body, including the kidneys. Gomez shared details about her experience with the disease and her surgery in the caption of the post. “So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my Lupus and was recovering,” the singer wrote in part. “It was what I needed to do for my overall health.” She also revealed that her close friend, Francia Raisa, was her organ donor. “… There aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa,” the actor penned. “She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me.”
Since receiving her lupus diagnosis, Gomez has become a voice for those dealing with the disease. That November, the “Spring Breakers” star attended the Lupus Research Alliance’s Breaking Through Gala and gave a speech in which she spoke out in support of those facing a similar situation. “I’d like to see the day when all young women can realize their dreams of life without a Lupus,” Gomez said (via E! News). “This is why I am committed to the Lupus Research Alliance. So that none of us are alone, especially the young women that I have grown up with and heard many, many stories.”
The singer-actor opened up about her bipolar diagnosis
During a 2021 interview with Elle, Selena Gomez revealed her reaction to her 2018 bipolar diagnosis. According to Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes a person to experience extreme emotional highs and lows. It turns out that Gomez, who also has anxiety and depression, went years undiagnosed and suffered as a result. The actor shared that she was relieved to find out there was an explanation for what she had been experiencing for so many years, per Elle.
Gomez’s bipolar disorder has led to multiple hospitalizations throughout her career. In 2014, ET reported that the star had checked into a rehab facility due to aid her mental health recovery. The actor later checked into a facility in 2016 after canceling her “Revival Tour” due to lupus complications and mental health concerns, which she discussed in an interview with GQ that same year. Gomez opened up about one of her hospital stays when speaking with fellow Disney Channel alum Miley Cyrus on the latter’s 2020 Instagram Live show, “Bright Minded.”
“Recently, I went to one of the best mental hospitals in America, McLean Hospital, and I discussed that, after years of going through a lot of different things, I realized that I was bipolar,” the actor revealed to Cyrus. “And so when I go to know more information, it actually helps me. It doesn’t scare me once I know it. … I wanted to know everything about it, and it took the fear away.”
Selena Gomez said she experienced emotional abuse
Selena Gomez’s on-again-off-again relationship with Justin Bieber didn’t exactly seem like a fairytale romance. You might remember the duo’s frequent social media spats, which gave the public a glimpse into their apparent toxicity. It turns out that this relationship was allegedly even more harmful than you may have guessed.
During a 2020 interview with NPR, Gomez revealed shocking details that likely changed many fans’ perception of the former couple. “I’ve found the strength in it. It’s dangerous to stay in a victim mentality,” Gomez said of her split from Bieber in the interview. “And I’m not being disrespectful. I do feel I was a victim to certain abuse.” The “Come & Get It” singer was then asked to confirm whether she was referencing “emotional abuse,” to which she responded: “Yes, and I think that it’s something that — I had to find a way to understand it as an adult.”
In 2019, Bieber had taken to Instagram to share a lengthy public apology for his past behaviors, including his faults in previous relationships. “I started doing pretty heavy drugs at 19 and abused all of my relationships,” the hitmaker penned in part in the post. “I [b]ecame resentful, disrespectful to women, and angry.” Although Bieber did not name Gomez in the apology, many assumed that she was on the receiving end of much of this disrespect. It seems that the “Lose You to Love Me” singer grew from the experience, though, because Gomez later told The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast in June 2022 that the relationship taught her that she shouldn’t tolerate mistreatment.
She didn’t know what she was getting herself into with her Disney contract
After years away from the small screen, Selena Gomez returned to TV in Hulu’s “Only Murders in the Building” alongside comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short. It turns out that the actor may have stepped away from television due to her seemingly unpleasant experience with the Disney Channel.
In 2021, Gomez revealed to the Television Critics Association that she didn’t have much freedom while working with the company. “I signed my life away to Disney at a very young age and I didn’t know what I was doing. What I’d say is the level of sophistication of the material is the first reason why I wanted to do this,” the former child star said of her decision to join “Only Murders in the Building” (via ET). “But when I was a kid, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just running around on set and now I just feel like a sponge and I soak up all the wisdom that I can.” During an interview with Radio Times, however, the “Wizards of Waverly Place” alum later clarified that she was proud of the work she did with Disney despite the challenges she faced.
Along with the musician’s seemingly restricting contract, Gomez also struggled with being in the spotlight at such a young age. The star’s privacy wasn’t respected, so she found herself in uncomfortable situations as a teenager. “I remember just feeling really violated when I was younger, even just being on the beach,” Gomez told Business of Fashion in 2017. “I was maybe 15 or 16 and people were taking pictures — photographers.”
Selena Gomez had a difficult relationship with her mother
Although Selena Gomez and her mother, Mandy Teefey, seem to be on good terms these days, the mother-daughter duo have had their fair share of family troubles. When the former Disney Channel star’s parents stepped down from their roles as her managers in 2014, rumors circulated that Selena Gomez fired her mother. Teefey later ended this speculation when she spoke about the ordeal during an interview with Gossip Cop in 2018.
“Every mother and daughter has disagreements,” the mom said of her decision to stop managing Gomez. “We lost family time because the only time we saw her, we talked business.” Although Teefey may not have been fired, it seems that her role as her famous daughter’s manager put a rift in their relationship. “It was no longer fun for any of us, like it was when she was younger and we had to be with her because she was a minor,” she continued.
Gomez’s on-and-off relationship with Justin Bieber was also reportedly to blame for much of the tension between the star and her mother, and Teefey seemingly confirmed that she wasn’t a Bieber fan during the Gossip Cop interview. Explaining that she didn’t communicate with the pop star at all while Gomez was dealing with lupus complications, Teefey also admitted that she was “not happy” about Bieber and Gomez rekindling their romance in 2017 after one of their many breakups. However, she ultimately decided: “Selena can live her life however she wants as long as she is happy, safe, and healthy.”
Social media took a toll on the star’s self-esteem
Many celebrities face scrutiny on social media, but Selena Gomez has been dealing with this online hate for years. The star’s highly publicized relationship with Justin Bieber often didn’t go over well with fans who didn’t want to see the two together, for example. According to Daily Mail, the actor even received death threats from angry fans after she was spotted kissing Bieber during a romantic Hawaii vacation back in 2011. This was in the early days of the couple’s on-and-off romance, and Gomez would sadly go on to receive more hate over the years.
Social media became such an unsafe place for Gomez that she eventually decided to take a likely much-needed break. The star spoke about her decision to distance herself from the internet during a January 2022 interview with InStyle. “Taking a break from social media was the best decision that I’ve ever made for my mental health,” she revealed. “I created a system where I still don’t have my passwords. And the unnecessary hate and comparisons went away once I put my phone down.” The musician went on to explain that she instead shifted her focus to things that would improve her mental health, like therapy.
Since returning to social media, Gomez has been rather active on TikTok, so it seems that she’s able to enjoy herself on the internet once again.
Selena Gomez ‘felt like a joke’ transitioning into acting as an adult
Selena Gomez found it difficult to shed her Disney image when pursuing more mature acting roles. This is a common complaint among former child stars who risk forever being associated with their kid-friendly acting gigs, with fellow Disney Channel alumni like Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus taking on more risqué personas after transitioning into their adult careers. Who could forget Cyrus’ controversial “Bangerz” era, or the more adult image Lovato debuted after releasing their 2015 single, “Cool for the Summer”? For her part, Gomez seemed to follow this trend when she appeared in the raunchy 2012 crime thriller, “Spring Breakers.”
The star later admitted in an interview on the Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast that earning a reputation as a mature actor wasn’t easy. “I felt like it was very difficult for people to take me seriously,” Gomez said. “I have slowly pushed through that, and I’m really glad, but it was very frustrating. I felt like a joke, you know?” Outside of her career in entertainment, the singer-actor explained that she’s also done a lot of maturing in her personal life.
“It was necessary for me to walk through those things,” Gomez said of all the tragedy she’s experienced in more recent years. “I had a lot of soul-searching to do. By all means I don’t have life figured out, but I do know that during that time I was learning so much about myself.”
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