NME Columnist Katherine Ryan On Selena Gomez And Living With Lupus

Had to get naked on Wednesday. It was for a rap music video pastiche in a room filled with hot (in here) young dancers. I was revealed completely nude for the cameras and everyone said I was brave. Urgh. I’ve transitioned into ‘brave’ territory now. So that’s happened. I know I haven’t got the body of a supermodel or anything but I wasn’t aware I’d reached a point where getting undressed was heroic. Total commendations, by the way, to any man who has been able to hold an erection under the circumstances of my nudity. They are the examples of true courage; staying in bed with me when they could have been out climbing trees, rescuing actual pussies instead.

Selena Gomez has been keeping her chin up lately, after revealing her struggle with lupus. According to the pop star, what the press thought to be a stint in rehab was actually a time when she became so ill she had to undergo chemotherapy. Justin Bieber, whose music is a cancer in my own life, helped Selena through that rough time and told her she was “the most beautiful girl in the world, no matter what”. Aw. Selena has been on a promotional tour for her new album, ‘Revival’, which was released on October 9. October is also Lupus Awareness Month.

Lupus is an auto-immune disease. Like Aids, but without the celebrity campaigners, and not contagious. It’s where specific antibodies send a message to attack your own healthy organs and cells as though they were invaders. So if you had a genetic mutation that allowed a right-wing government to run your bloodstream, and your heart and lungs were innocent Syrian refugees, your immune system might mistake them for terrorists. Ridiculous, right? There’d be a battle over how many cells to let in, and which ones had links to ISIS. That fight would cause inflammation, making you weak and sick. It could give you mouth ulcers, blood in your urine, rashes, joint pain, hair loss, pulmonary haemorrhage and lots more general f**kery to deal with. More than 90 per cent of lupus sufferers are women, and most of those are Hispanic/Latino. It’s the Donald Trump of diseases. And there’s no cure.

Or is there? I know a lot about systemic lupus erythematosus because I have it too. I was diagnosed through the NHS when I first moved to England in 2008 following months of serious illness. I had a huge rash on my face that looked like a burn, around the time that Amy Winehouse was photographed with scabs on her cheek, either from rumoured impetigo or from putting out a cigar on it. Either way, I looked just as troubled. The drugs I was prescribed made me feel even worse.

My mother sent me a book by a lady who’d obliterated her symptoms through meditation and eating whole, raw foods. It was a pain in the ass to follow, but eventually it started working. I wish lupus on everyone, because it taught me to relax. My life is so much better with lupus because I know that stress and too much junk food will literally put me in hospital. I got a kidney infection watching The Notebook. I got high off a can of Pringles. So now I just chill. I still see a medical doctor for check-ups every six months, and he tells me that diet has nothing to do with my miraculous recovery. Then he tells me I’m brave. And I put my clothes back on.