In a new interview with Billboard, Selena Gomez speaks out about her struggle with a lupus diagnosis and reveals that she’s been taking a hiatus from the spotlight to undergo chemotherapy—not, as some tabloids have speculated, because she’s struggling with drugs, alcohol, or her recent breakup with Justin Bieber.
You might remember that Gomez canceled a tour of Australia and Asia in 2013 and later checked into a rehabilitation facility. The resulting tabloid speculation forced the 23 year old to confront rumors of a substance abuse problem.
“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,” Gomez told the magazine about her time out.
“I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy. You’re assholes.’ I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again,” she said.
Gomez went on to say that she took the criticism from her haters and channeled it right back into her new album, Revival, coming out this week: “I’m so fucking nice to everybody, and everyone is so vile to me. I’ve been working since I was seven. I’ve been a UNICEF ambassador since I was 17. It’s so disappointing that I’ve become a tabloid story … The hate motivated me.”
The young star also spoke about her friendship with Taylor Swift and the rest of the #squad: “Taylor makes me feel empowered, like I can trust new people … All of those girls are so dope. We ran around taking pictures, changing dresses, dancing—super-cliché girly stuff, but it rocked. The way she cares about women is so adamant. It’s pulling me out of my shell.”