Everything We Learned from Selena Gomez’s New Documentary

6 minute read

Selena Gomez has ducked in and out of the spotlight since she left the Disney Channel in 2012. The world has gotten glimpses into her personal life with the very little she has shared on social media—she was for a time the most followed person on Instagram—but the pop star is sharing much more now with her new documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, released on Apple TV+ today. Gomez is known to be a private person, but she’s revealed more than fans might have expected in the film. Viewers learn more about her mental health challenges, including her struggles with bipolar disorder and suicidal ideation, her battle with fame and having her name so often uttered in the same breath as an ex-boyfriend, and her journey of self-discovery.

The film is so revealing that the singer and Only Murders in the Building actor was close to pulling the plug entirely. She told Rolling Stone that she was nervous about releasing it: “I don’t want that to sound dramatic, but I almost wasn’t going to put this out,” she told the publication. “God’s honest truth, a few weeks ago, I wasn’t sure I could do it.”

Here’s everything we learned from watching Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me.

She opens up about her relationship with Justin Bieber

Selena Gomez singing into a microphone
Selena Gomez in "Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me"Courtesy of Apple TV+

The documentary starts with footage from the final rehearsal before she embarked on the Revival Tour in 2016. Her team is figuring out costumes, sound, and staging when Gomez can’t contain her discomfort anymore and breaks down crying in her dressing room. She begins talking about all the things that are going wrong, from missing her marks to the way the costumes look, when her breakdown comes to a heartbreaking crescendo.

This moment took place in the throes of her tumultuous relationship with fellow pop star Justin Bieber, and in the documentary, Gomez says through tears that John Janik, CEO and Chairman of Interscope Records, had called her early that day to talk about a song with Bieber. This causes her to cry even harder and ask, “When am I going to be good enough just by myself… not needing anyone else to be associated with?” It was the first time we’ve seen her talk about how her relationship might have felt like it was overshadowing her as an artist and, more broadly, as a human being.

Later in the documentary she says, “I was haunted by a past relationship that no one wanted to let go of.”

She opens up about her battle with bipolar disorder

Selena Gomez in her bathroom
Selena Gomez in "Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me"Courtesy of Apple TV+

The most harrowing moment in the documentary takes place when Gomez’s former assistant details the time the singer approached her and said, “I don’t want to be alive right now.” This led to Gomez’s team deciding the tour would be canceled. Gomez had already completed the North American and Australian legs of her Revival tour, with plans to tour Europe and Latin America. In a statement to PEOPLE, the singer wrote that she “discovered that anxiety, panic attacks, and depression can be side effects of lupus, which can present their own challenges.” Gomez, who was diagnosed with lupus in 2011, announced that she would be canceling the rest of the tour to prioritize her mental and physical health.

The documentary reveals more about that moment in her life. In October 2018, she suffered a nervous breakdown and was “despondent and emotional” due to a low white blood cell count from complications of lupus. Gomez’s mother says she learned about the breakdown through TMZ, but neither she nor her daughter have spoken publicly about the experience until this documentary. Gomez was admitted to a mental health hospital, where her mother and her friend say that the singer was completely unrecognizable. She underwent treatment and was later released. In footage from 2019, viewers see a regretful Gomez in her bed, saying that she said some things she was not proud of and confessed that she “shouldn’t have talked to my mom and stepdad the way I did.”

Gomez shares more about how her lupus affects her daily life

Selena Gomez singing in a studio
Selena Gomez in "Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me"Courtesy of Apple TV+

Throughout the documentary, Gomez discusses how lupus affects her everyday life. When viewers are taken backstage at tour rehearsals, she is shown monitoring her blood pressure and mentions that if her blood pressure gets too high, she could have a stroke.

She also talks about the physical pain she has to deal with and at one point, we see her sobbing because her joint pain is so unbearable. She gets on the phone with her doctor, who tells her this could be a rheumatoid/lupus overlap and suggests that she get an IV treatment of rituxan, a medication used to treat certain autoimmune diseases and cancers. The singer explains how the treatment is not easy on a person’s system at first but she puts a brave face on because she wants to serve as inspiration for those who might be going through something similar.

She puts her heart into her philanthropic work

Selena Gomez and the director walking on a field
Selena Gomez and filmmaker Alek Keshishian on the set of “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me"Courtesy of Apple TV+

Gomez seems to find genuine joy in helping those in need. She constantly mentions what she feels is her greater purpose in life, and at one point, her friend calls her out to say, “I think you know what [your calling] is, but you don’t always choose to walk in it.” Gomez agrees but asks her to clarify, to which her friend replies, “I think you know what fuels you and gives you purpose and the things that make you happy, but I don’t always think you choose that.”

When doing her philanthropic work, which includes mental health advocacy, activism, and raising money for causes mental health advocacy and education, Gomez seems unable to wipe the smile off her face. When she’s taking meetings about her musical career, however, she’s constantly nervous. On a press tour, she appears annoyed. Shots of her in Kenya visiting a primary school and college she helped raise money to build show her at ease, connecting with the people she’s helping.

Gomez released a new song in tandem with the documentary, and has since teased her first musical comeback since 2020’s Rare album. In an interview with Variety, she said she plans to release music “hopefully next year.”

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Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com