WITH her legions of fans, a sell-out global tour and more than 100 million devoted Instagram followers, US singer Selena Gomez should be on top of the world.
Instead, the 24 year old has been holed up in a rehab facility in Nashville, Tennessee since September, in an attempt to conquer a number of health issues.
US singer Selena Gomez has taken time off to focus on her health and happiness after suffering with anxiety and depression related to lupusCredit: Getty Images
After telling fans via social media she’s been suffering from “anxiety, panic attacks and depression”, the celebrity rumour mill went into overdrive with speculation about what led the former child star to step out of the limelight in such dramatic fashion.
The cracks began to appear in Selena’s seemingly perfect life in late 2012 when she was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus, which can cause skin rashes, fatigue and joint pain.
At the time, her diagnosis was kept private, and when she cancelled the Australian leg of her tour and checked into The Meadows recovery centre in Arizona in January 2014, she told fans: “I need to spend some time on myself.”
Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber dated for three yearsCredit: Getty Images
Rumours swirled that she was receiving treatment for a prescription drug addiction, but her spokesperson insisted she was not there for substance abuse.
That October, her three-year on-and-off relationship with Justin Bieber, now 22, ended in dramatic style amid accusations of cheating on his part, leaving fans mourning the end of “Jelena”.
It wasn’t until last year that Selena finally opened up about her lupus diagnosis and revealed the reason she spent time at The Meadows had been to have treatment to alleviate the symptoms.
“I was diagnosed with lupus, and I’ve been through chemotherapy. That’s what my break was really about. I could’ve had a stroke,” she said in 2015.
Selena with her grandparents Ricardo and Mary: They raised raised Selena for the first four years of her lifeCredit: Fabulous
After splitting from Bieber, Selena was forced to see him with new girlfriends – most recently Sofia RichieCredit: Xposure
As if dealing with such serious health issues and a break-up wasn’t enough, Selena has been forced to watch her ex Justin be romantically linked to a succession of stars, including Kendall Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian, Miranda Kerr and Sofia Richie.
It’s little wonder, then, that the events of the last four years have taken such a toll on her – something her family has witnessed first-hand.
Speaking to Fabulous, Selena’s grandfather Ricardo Gomez, 61 – who raised Selena for the first four years of her life with his wife Mary, 65, while her parents finished school (mum Mandy was 16 when she gave birth) – told how they rallied around the star.
Surrounded by photos of Selena at his home in Grand Prairie, Texas, Ricardo said of her first stint in rehab: “She was under a lot of pressure from work and was worrying about Justin. The doctor told her she needed to take time out. She works long hours every day, and although she loves her work, it got too much. I always tell Selena: ‘Be yourself and don’t let things get over your head.’ But it would be hard for anyone. She’s only human.”
Selena was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease lupus in 2012 but kept it private until last yearCredit: Getty Images
Selena was dealt another blow in June this year when her friend, The Voice US contestant Christina Grimmie, 22, was shot dead by a stalker while signing autographs at a show in Orlando, Florida.
Her death caused Selena to break down in tears during a concert the following night, saying: “I don’t really understand how this happened.”
A few weeks later, Selena sparked concern when she posted on Instagram that she felt “extremely unauthentic, unconnected to both myself and my music”.
After fans flooded her timeline with messages of support, Selena made a statement explaining how her illness affects her.
She said: “I’ve discovered that anxiety, panic attacks and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges.”
Selena was in such a fragile place, her bitter Instagram war of words with Justin this August came as no surprise.
Selena sparked concern with an Instagram post saying she felt ‘unconnected’ to herself and her musicCredit: Rex Features
The public feud was sparked by Selena criticising Justin’s threats to quit social media when fans trolled him over his latest lover, model and socialite Sofia Richie, 18.
Selena advised Justin to stop posting pictures if he couldn’t handle the hate.
Justin responded with: “It’s funny to see people that used me for attention and still try to point the finger this way.”
As tensions mounted, Selena fired back: “Funny how the ones that cheated multiple times are pointing the finger at the ones that were forgiving and supportive. No wonder the fans are mad.”
Although the former couple had stayed in touch since their 2014 split, sources claim this exchange made Selena realise a reunion was unlikely.
Speaking about Justin, Ricardo admitted: “She loves him but told us she doesn’t want to be with him because of his recent behaviour. We’ve known Justin since he started in the industry and he was such a bright young man, but we worry for him. His family think Selena is a good influence on him.”
Selena started on the Disney channel and found fame earlyCredit: Splash
Apart from her brief 2014 break, this is the first time Selena has been out of the limelight since she was 10 years old.
She shot to fame on kids’ TV show Barney & Friends in 2002, signing a record deal in 2008.
Her crazy schedule means she has had little time to devote to maintaining bonds with family.
Ricardo said: “When we talk on the phone we say: ‘We don’t see you in person but we see you in the news, in the newspaper, the TV… Are you OK?’ She says: ‘Yeah.’”
But her Revival tour has been postponed amid reports she could spend months in rehab, and she has been off social media since August.
In her statement, Selena insisted she had to focus on health and happiness: “I have decided that the best way forward is to take time off… I need to face this head on to ensure I am doing everything possible to be my best.”
Hopefully this radio silence means Selena may finally be getting the help she desperately needs.
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