What Selena Gomez taught me about my chronic illness

When Selena Gomez told the world and media a few weeks ago that she officially has lupus, it shocked her fans, and the messages of support poured in (as they should!). Having had Lupus for almost ten years, I felt a lot of emotions – empathy for what she’s going through, but also pride that this amazing human is using her fame to raise awareness. I never would have expected MTV to share The Spoon Theory, or to see other news stories about Lupus in mainstream media. But my biggest surprise is that after almost a decade, Selena has taught me a few things about living my life with a chronic illness.

It’s ok to take breaks

One of the biggest symptoms of Lupus is chronic fatigue, making people with it absolutely exhausted and unable to do even the simplest things. A big problem I struggle with is over-compensating; when I’m having a bad health day I’ll push myself harder when I should be resting. Selena took months out of her career to work on getting herself healthier before coming back with a killer new album; she knows that she needs to pace herself and not burn out. Speaking on Ellen she said “It’s kind of one of those situations. You just have to take care of yourself.”

That my illness is nobody else’s business

When Selena disappeared for a few months, the media speculated that she was in rehab with a drug addiction. But despite all the rumors about her she never made a statement until she was ready. She told Billboard,  “I wanted so badly to say, ‘You guys have no idea. I’m in chemotherapy.’…I locked myself away until I was confident and comfortable again.” I sometimes feel the need to tell more judgmental folk that there’s a reason I can’t do things in less than polite ways, but I know now that those who treat me like that aren’t worth my time.

That I don’t have to give up

When my health crashes I see my whole world crumble before my eyes, and it’s hard to pull myself out of the feeling that I’ll never be able to achieve anything. Sure my illness affects a lot of what I do, my concentration, energy and the actual ability to form a sentence (y’know, all pretty vital stuff for a writer!). While Selena took a break, she never quit; instead coming back with her amazing new album Revival. By taking the time out, she was able to take stock of her life and career and come back with what she loved.

Selena has gone from strength to strength and I hope she doesn’t stops any time soon. Thank you Selena for inspiring me to pick myself up, I wish you an abundance of white blood cells and pain free days. Keep showing Lupus who’s boss, you amazing butterfly. In the meantime I’ll be thinking about your lyrics from Revival: “What I’ve learned is so vital/More than just survival/This is my revival.”

Rachel Charlton-Dailey is a 26 year old writer and blogger, who aims to raise awareness of invisible illnesses and challenge stereotypes of disabled people whilst living with Lupus, depression and a whole other host of illnesses. She blogs at Happy Little Syllables (happylittlesyllables.co.uk) and tweets @RachelCDailey.

[Image via Mikey Hennessey on Wikimedia Commons]

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