Camila Cabello Was “Desperate For Relief” Before Befriending Her Anxiety
In a touching personal essay, Camila Cabello opened up about her experiences with mental health issues, specifically anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The candid, first-person essay was published in the Wall Street Journal in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month and the talented young woman didn’t mince words.
23-year-old Cabello started by confirming an uncomfortable truth – that what you see on social media is not always true and rarely what it seems. What fans would see on her social media was her “writing in the studio, pictures in a hallway in a bomb-dot-com outfit before going on stage to perform” and more but it never showed the daily “relentless anxiety” she faced.
While her social media made all seem joyful in Camila’s world, that was not the case. Because, in reality, Cabello was feeling “embarrassed and ashamed” but “desperate for relief” from her physical and emotional symptoms. She said that fans didn’t see the pictures of her crying in the car while talking to her mother “about how much anxiety and how many symptoms of OCD” she experienced, pictures of the pair “in a hotel room reading books about OCD” and pictures of her “experiencing what felt like constant, unwavering, relentless anxiety that made day-to-day life painfully hard.” Her essay even dealt with the stigma that the “Havana” singer herself felt, as she admitted to being hesitant about opening up about her OCD and anxiety in the past.
I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t want the people who thought I was strong and capable and confident—the people who most believed in me—to find out that I felt weak,”
She went on to say how her inner battles made her struggle to accept that she needed to be honest with herself because she felt as if she was not equipt with the skills to “heal it or handle it”,
“The little voice in my head was telling me that if I was honest about my mental health struggle and my internal battles (i.e. being human), people would think there was something wrong with me, or that I wasn’t strong, or that I couldn’t handle things. That same little voice also told me maybe I was being ungrateful for all the good in my life—and that hiding the open wound I’d been avoiding the last few years was the easiest and fastest solution.”
But, thankfully, Cabello says that she knew that this was far from the truth. She unveiled that the key to fighting her internal battles was taking ownership of her mind, body, and life — and learning that there was nothing shameful about struggling with mental health. She detailed that her anxiety was showing itself through “obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours”, saying, “To put it simply, it made me feel like my mind was playing a cruel trick on me.” After several months of feeling “messed up, with a capital UP” that lead to difficulty sleeping, chronic headaches and what felt like a constant knot in her throat as her body went through what felt like “multiple roller-coaster rides every day”, she took the first, hardest step: ask for help.
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meditation has changed my life in the last few months. I didn’t share this with you guys at the time because honestly I was just trying to be okay, but I was experiencing severe anxiety. it was meditation- it was practicing every single day multiple times a day that has been healing me, and, more than just helping me manage strong emotions like anxiety and stress, it’s making me a better human. not only does it help in times like this with stress and anxiety, meditation is the practice of strengthening habits like empathy, love, and compassion- making you feel more connected to not only everybody around you , but living beings in general like animals, plants, and the earth, which is a living being, itself. In times like these, especially as young people, even if we are healthy, it’s important to practice compassion and help others that could be suffering. We are in this together, let’s not be indifferent to others risk. it’s our responsibility to do whatever it takes to keep everyone safe. Empathy to others’ reality and solidarity could make the difference in hard moments like this. We can’t think that we will be unaffected because we feel young and healthy. we have parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors, and we don’t want to be a part of the problem when we could be part of the solution. So I’d like you to take 10 minutes of your day today to either look up loving kindness meditation on Calm or YouTube. Or just follow these instructions: close your eyes and sit with your spine upright and feel gravity grounding your body to the earth’s surface and supporting you. Take three deep breaths and then begin to just notice the natural flow of your breath. Being aware of breathing in, breathing out. Following every inhale and exhale with your attention. Once your mind has stilled. Picture every human in the world right now, elders, people that have respiratory problems and are vulnerable, picture the people that are vulnerable, picture their families, and say “May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you be free from illness. May you be well.” Repeat until you really feel it in your heart ❤️- love you guys, please stay safe !
And from there, she’s found more ways to deal with the way she was feeling. Referring to her anxiety as “her,” she says now they are “good friends”,
I listen to her, because I know she’s just trying to keep me safe, but I don’t give her too much attention. And I sure as hell don’t let her make any decisions.”
With that, Cabello says she’s managed to calm the war that she had been at within herself and now feels healthier and more connected with herself.
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all of us go through the same things and are trying to figure it out – none of us are exempt from stress, anxiety, sadness, pain, and countless other internal struggles, whether it’s moments of it, or longer than just moments – for me, i suffered from anxiety so much that I had no choice but to change, to look for different tools that could help me, because it was bringing me so much pain- the last few months especially, I’ve worked so hard on this and am experiencing so much growth – which means, to anybody struggling, that growth and change is completely possible ! But today I just want to share this loving kindness meditation that is my favorite thing I’ve learned so far- because it’s easy to forget in our own struggles (I’ve been guilty of this and that’s why I love this particular practice so much) that everybody around us, and on this planet is fighting their own battle, and is feeling their own pain – some at a way more excruciating level than others, and therefore, EVERYBODY, even the people that most piss you off, are in DESPERATE need of love and kindness – I hope you try this practice today : for 10 minutes I breathe and picture somebody I love and say these phrases, I picture them happy and smiling as if it’s the best day of their lives, I picture them sad and wish them with all my heart that they be free from it – then I picture myself and say them about myself, then someone I’m not as close to (or someone you don’t get along with so much), and then I picture all the humans on the planet, and then all animals and living beings too- it really makes me feel connected and not alone , because the truth is – we never are, we’re all in it together . ❤️
We hope she’s as proud of herself as we are of her! Mental health is not something to be taken lightly. Talk to those around you, people you love and trust – there is no shame in feeling what you are feeling.
*Cover image credits: Background: Luis Paico on Unsplash Camila Cabello: Camila Cabello on Instagram