Camila Cabello Speaks Her Truth“These were things I didn’t talk to anybody about before.”
For our May cover interview, Camila Cabello sat down with Wondermind co-founder Selena Gomez to dive deep into anxiety spirals, shame, and the range of emotions that went into the making of her new album, Familia.
[This interview originally appeared in a May 2022 edition of the Wondermind Newsletter. Sign up here to never miss these candid conversations.]
Selena Gomez: So, how are you really?
Camila Cabello: I’m feeling really proud of myself for bringing myself out of my comfort zone and socializing a lot, and always being vulnerable and honest with my friends, which can be hard sometimes and also kind of tiring. I spent a lot of my early adulthood kind of isolating and not really having intimate relationships and friendships with people. So I’m proud of myself for doing that now and also having the awkward conversations. I’m feeling proud of myself and also a little bit tired.
SG: What does mental fitness look like to you?
CC: Part of keeping my relationships strong is really talking it out and fully showing up, so that’s really important to me. And, also, being out in nature is really helpful for me. Paying attention to what I need and asking myself what I need and not making myself feel bad if I don’t want to hang out that night. Just staying true to what’s going to make me feel better, or good, in that moment.
SG: You’ve spoken before about going through periods of anxiety. What do you feel like when you feel anxiety?
CC: It’s funny because, the other day, I was feeling very anxious about this one thing. I was going somewhere with my friend in the car. I just needed to talk to my therapist, so I talked to my therapist while my friend was in the car with me, and I realized my anxiety manifests as obsessive-compulsive stuff. It can look like asking the same question, like “What did you mean by that? Are you sure you’re not mad at me? Wait, are you sure you’re not mad at me?” and doing that over and over. It used to happen so much more, getting stuck in these loops for a long time to the point where I felt like I could not get an answer I was satisfied with, so I would be obsessively going down this loop.
So for me, anxiety feels, mentally, like trying to get an answer, or a way of having control or certainty, which is hard because sometimes you just can’t. You have to sit with it. It feels almost like—it sounds weird saying this because I don’t do drugs—but a bad trip. In the moment, everything feels dizzying and overwhelming and like you’re on this ride thinking, Just help me get off. In my mind, it's a loop, like obsessive-compulsive stuff. In my body, it’s a tightness, almost like I can’t move, like my hands are tied and everything is just tied up.
SG: I’m so happy that you got a hold of that. Do you mind me asking if you take medication?
CC: I have been taking an SSRI and that definitely has helped a lot. Especially while I was doing therapy, too. I felt like I needed that to get to a place where I could go below the surface level loops and manifestations of it and get to the thought patterns and things that were really causing me anxiety. I definitely feel like medication can be really helpful and necessary.
SG: I fully understand that people get nervous about that stuff, but it means a lot when you find the right one for you.
CC: 100%, it can save your life!
SG: What’s a misconception about mental health that you personally get frustrated with?
CC: I get frustrated with the stigma around therapy. I feel like it exists even more in the older generations. People like my parents’ age have such shame about needing therapy or feeling anxiety. The stigma around saying that you need help is something that frustrates me because sometimes people can be like, “No, I don’t need that, I just need free time,” or whatever. Obviously, that’s valid, but just because you’re in therapy doesn’t mean something is more wrong with you than other people. We all have things that we could work on, we all have tools that we could learn, and it doesn’t mean that you’re “crazy” or ill. What if you are just trying to work through the stuff that makes you suffer? Don’t we all want that?
SG: Of course, I completely agree. Your album Familia feels really personal. Was that hard, was it weird, was it a release?
CC: At the beginning of that album I was at the worst of my mental health journey—well, probably the [most recent] worst. At the beginning of that period, before I even went in, I didn’t even feel like I was ready to go into the studio. I was like, I don’t feel good. Every day feels like a battle, it just feels really hard. So adding writing on top of that felt like too much for me. So my condition for going into the studio was going in with people who I felt emotionally safe with so that if I was like “Hey, I have these obsessive-compulsive behaviors when I have really bad anxiety,” or “I’m having anxiety right now” that they were people that made me feel safe to say things like that.
Sometimes I felt in the studio before that it was very performative, that people just wanted me to be confident, and I felt like I had to match up to what they wanted me to be instead of what I was actually feeling.
And there’s obviously such shame that comes sometimes with mental health. From the outside, my life looks great. I can make an album or I’m in this relationship, whatever. I almost shamed myself by thinking people wouldn’t understand that I have anxiety, because why?
SG: Have you been surprised by the reaction to the album? Personally, I find it extremely relatable. I’ve been in those situations. Do you feel better now that it’s out?
CC: Oh my God, I feel so much better. So many of the things I talked about—like Psychofreak, which was really about the anxiety I felt around intimacy and relationships where I’m like, “I feel like you’re lying when you say you love me. I feel crazy.”—these were things I didn’t talk to anybody about before except my mom and my therapist. Because I went into hermit mode for so long, like isolation mode. That was the first time that I really got to talk about it with people outside of that really tight circle and got to talk about it with my collaborators. And they were asking me the same questions too, like, “What does that look like for you? What thoughts go through your head? What does that feel like for you?”
It was really hard, and I felt really anxious even talking about those things because I think before I went on that journey, I was almost scared to be found out, like, This is weird, my brain is broken, this isn’t normal. And I think when you talk about it and people are like, “Oh yeah, that makes sense,” it’s like, Oh wow, there’s no big secret to hide. Once I opened up, these people didn’t leave me. That was the most healing thing. Then, from having the songs come out and me being able to talk about those things in interviews, it feels like they don’t hold so much power for me anymore, whereas before they really held all the power in my life.
SG: I definitely understand. What is the best mental health advice you’ve received?
CC: I think the best mental health advice that I’ve ever received is that faking or pretending is the worst thing for my mental health, personally. Saying the truth and being vulnerable and talking about it is basically what my therapist says to me in every session. Obviously, the therapy works because I do these things, I end up having the conversations or whatever. Just telling the truth about how you feel, like, “I feel f*cked up today. I feel super sad today. I feel depressed. I’m feeling a little panicky.” That really helps so much, and finding people that you feel safe to say that around is the most relaxing thing. Ironically, when you feel very panicky, and somebody is like, “Oh, OK, that’s OK, I get that” it ends up slowly going away. Whereas if you feel like you’re in that situation and you can’t say anything, it just makes everything ten times worse.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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