Camila Cabello is opening up about her struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder. In recognition of Mental Health Month, the 23-year-old singer penned an essay for WSJ. Magazine in which she describes how the disorder and its resulting anxiety have affected her life.
"If you look at the pictures I’ve posted on Instagram over the last year, you’ll find pictures of me writing in the studio, pictures in a hallway in a bomb-dot-com outfit before going onstage to perform, pictures of me cuddled up with my dog, Eugene, on a couch, and pictures of me bursting with excitement to play you my music," she writes. "But here’s what there aren’t pictures of from the last year: me crying in the car talking to my mom about how much anxiety and how many symptoms of OCD I was experiencing. My mom and me in a hotel room reading books about OCD because I was desperate for relief. Me experiencing what felt like constant, unwavering, relentless anxiety that made day-to-day life painfully hard."
Cabello writes that she hesitated to speak out about her struggles because she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to "talk about what it feels like to be at war in our minds and in our bodies."
"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," she writes. "But all of that is not the truth. There was something hurting inside me, and I didn’t have the skill to heal it or handle it. In order to heal it, I had to talk about it. Denying my suffering and berating myself didn’t help things. I needed to say those three revolutionary words: I need help."
Cabello writes that she felt "messed up" for a few months due to her anxiety, which "manifested in the form of obsessive compulsive disorder."
"OCD is not how it’s stereotyped, like, She’s so OCD about her desk being organized, etc. OCD can take many different forms, and for me it was obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors," Cabello explains. "To put it simply, it made me feel like my mind was playing a cruel trick on me. It affected me physically, too. I couldn’t sleep for a long time, I had a constant knot in my throat, I had chronic headaches, and my body went through what felt like multiple roller-coaster rides every day."
Though Cabello writes that she "kept going and kept showing up," she didn't tell her family and friends how much she was "really struggling." In fact, she was struggling so much that Cabello felt anxiety was "robbing" her of humor, joy, creativity and trust. Now, though, Cabello considers herself "good friends" with her anxiety.
"I listen to her, because I know she’s just trying to keep me safe, but I don’t give her too much attention," she writes. "And I sure as hell don’t let her make any decisions."
Now that she's reached this point in her life, Cabello writes that she is "no longer in that internal war."
"I feel the healthiest and most connected to myself I’ve ever been, and nowadays I rarely suffer from OCD symptoms," she writes. "Anxiety comes and goes, but now it feels like just another difficult emotion, as opposed to something that’s consuming my life. By doing the work and showing up for myself every day, I feel like I have more trust in myself than ever before."
She encouraged others who are going through similar struggles to "speak up," despite our culture of "unattainable perfection."
"Social media can make us feel like we should be as perfect as everybody else seems to be," she writes. "Far from being a sign of weakness, owning our struggles and taking the steps to heal is powerful."