Selena Gomez On Rehab Stay: 'I Needed Time To Just Be OK'

By Victoria Kim 04/21/16

Drugs and alcohol are not the only reason someone might enter rehab.

Serena Gomez On Rehab Stay: 'I Needed Time To Just Be OK'
Photo via Shutterstock/TinselTown

A recent article in Teen Vogue gives a refreshing critique of the media’s obsession with celebrity drug stories while addressing its latest high-level target: Selena Gomez.

The singer and actress, who rose to fame as a teenage Disney Channel star, got the media’s attention in 2014 when she voluntarily entered rehab after canceling her “Stars Dance” tour. At the time, she would not say what she’d gone to rehab for, amid all the speculation. But last year, she disclosed to Billboard that she was taking time to recover from chemotherapy treatment for lupus. “That’s what my break was really about,” she said. “I could’ve had a stroke.” 

“I felt like I’d lost everything,” she added. “Just because it’s not plastered everywhere doesn’t mean I didn’t have my rock bottom.” In a recent interview with GQ, Gomez shut down further inquiry regarding her time at rehab. When the reporter brought it up, she said simply, “First off, this is something that everyone always wants to fixate on. I got diagnosed with lupus. My mom had a very public miscarriage. So I had to cancel my tour. I needed time to just be okay. It’s really frustrating, because I am 100 percent allowed to have that.”

There’s more than one reason rehab might benefit someone with a chronic illness. Though some may be inclined to believe that “rehab” equates addiction issues, Teen Vogue's Brittney McNamara points to the list of emotional issues people recover from at The Meadows, the Arizona rehab facility where Gomez stayed. They include trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, codependency and bipolar disorder, to name a few. 

“It’s difficult for anyone to cope with an incurable lifelong illness, but I would imagine that it would be even more difficult to do while being in the spotlight,” Jayta Szpitalak, a mental health counselor, told McNamara. Szpitalak said lupus, an autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation and tissue damage in the body which can limit mobility and cause extreme pain, can “severely affect our mental wellness leaving one with not just chronic fatigue, but potential issues with depression, anxiety and/or grief, or, in extreme circumstances, psychosis.” Rehab can also alleviate the physical toll of a disease like lupus through occupational or physical therapy, said patient advocate Ashley Boynes-Shuck.

In the Billboard interview, Gomez expressed her frustration with the speculation over her time at The Meadows. “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes.’ But I was angry I even felt the need to say that,” she said. “I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr