Selena Gomez is speaking out about childhood friend Demi Lovato‘s July overdose for the first time.
In an interview with Elle for the magazine’s October cover, the “Back to You” singer, 26, explained that she chose to offer her support to Lovato privately, rather than publicly.
Six days after the news broke, with Lovato, also 26, still in the hospital, Gomez was on the verge of tears and “choking up” when she started to talk about it, according to the magazine.
“All I’m saying is, I reached out personally,” the 13 Reasons Why executive producer told Elle. “I didn’t do a public thing. I didn’t want to. I… I love her. I’ve known her since I was seven. So… it’s… that’s what I’ll say.”
On July 24, emergency medical services rushed to Lovato’s Hollywood Hills home, where she was revived with Narcan, an emergency medication able to immediately restore normal breathing in someone who has overdosed on fentanyl, heroin and prescription painkillers. Lovato remained in the hospital for more than a week before she was released on Aug. 4 to enter an in-patient treatment facility.
One month after the pop star was hospitalized, a source told PEOPLE that Lovato was “in recovery and doing great.”
In the Elle cover story, Gomez also shared some of the major changes taking place in her life, all rooted in the idea of “down-sizing.” In January, she moved out of L.A. into Orange County to live with a friend from her church because, she says, “I can’t do any of the things I do here in L.A. It’s just impossible.”
She’s also selling three of her homes — her Calabasas estate, her Texas mansion and her Studio City apartment — all valued between $2.8 and $3.3 million.
Also, as part of her new focus on finding what matters to her, Gomez has been volunteering at an anti-human trafficking organization, A21, since March. But she was hesitant to talk about it at first.
“I wasn’t going to immediately start discussing it. It’s out of my comfort zone. I needed to be fully immersed in it,” she said, adding, “What a great thing another celebrity is doing — that’s not why I want to talk about it. I can’t be silent about this.”
Another revelation about the hitmaker’s lifestyle? Gomez may be the most followed person on Instagram, but she doesn’t have the app on her phone — or even the password to her account. She can only update it from the phone of a friend she’s given access to.
“I’m not on the internet. I haven’t been on the internet in months,” she shared with the magazine. “I have no apps on my phone, no photo editing apps. I have Peak, a brain game … The reason why is, it’s not real to me … I know my voice is very prominent, but I’m not careless with it. I’m selective.”
Gomez has another ongoing project that’s meant to instill some of these same values in her fans. Her latest sneaker design in collaboration with Puma has her initials SG in its title, but it also stands for “strong girls,” she toldFootwear News last week.
“The whole point is to take the focus away from me; it’s about what I believe in and what I choose to do with the platform I’m given,” Gomez continued. “It’s much bigger than me and it’s much bigger than Puma — it’s about how you feel.”
Of course, though, the actress and singer faces challenges in her everyday life. Last year, she had a kidney transplant due to complications from Lupus. And recently, she was faced with a social media controversy when designer Stefano Gabbana referred to her as “ugly” in an Instagram comment. But Gomez says she stays true to herself, no matter what’s said about her.
“It’s OK that I’m not accepted this way. It’s OK that I’m nice and not intense. I don’t really care,” Gomez shared with Elle. “I have to express my message to myself more than my fans. I would say that ‘I get it, I’m like you.’”