Over the last few years, Selena Gomez has been increasingly candid about her own mental health journey.
But though she may make honesty look easy, the Rare Beauty founder, 28, acknowledges it's been difficult at times to share her toughest moments with the world.
"[Being open] isn't an easy thing to ask of someone. I've had to go away a few times for stuff I didn't know [I was struggling with] and was confused by," the singer — whose highly anticipated beauty line drops Thursday — tells PEOPLE exclusively. "And then this stigma came: What would people think? But when I thought about it, my first answer was, 'I don't care, this is my truth.' I'm not a stigma. I'm a person that walks their life."
By being vocal about her ups and downs, Gomez hopes she's helping fans who are facing similar issues feel less alone.
"As far as my career, I'm professional and I work very hard. At the same time, I do deal with mental health [issues] and I wanted that to also be known," she says. "In the beginning it seemed hopeless. Sometimes it was a challenge for me to even get out of bed. I was like, 'Why can't I be like you guys?' Over the years I've finally found my rhythm, but it took me time."
On her birthday earlier this summer, Gomez announced the Rare Impact Fund, which has committed to raising $100 million in the next 10 years to help underserved communities get mental health treatment.
Being able to seek help, says Gomez, was life-changing. Now she's determined to make mental health treatment accessible to everyone.
"I've tried a ton of different things, but the one thing I've never stopped doing is asking for help," she says. "That was the hardest part, but I truly believe that that's why I'm stronger. This is something that is the most important thing in the world to me 'cause it's my mental health."
When she's having a tough day and negative thoughts start creeping in, Gomez says she makes a conscious effort to pay attention to her emotional needs.
"The first thing I do is find space alone, because I [tend to] push and push myself so I don't have to think about my feelings," she says. "I'll go to my room, lie down, drink some water and take a few deep breaths. Then if I need a friend, I call a friend. If I need my therapist, I call my therapist. On top of the heavy stuff, it's important to just take time with yourself and be gentle. I know it can seem like bulls—, but it's true!"
Like most people, Gomez says she's struggled with self-doubt in the past — and now her makeup line is a way for her to help break down unattainable beauty standards.
"I used to look at myself and feel not pretty enough, but I think it's natural for people to feel that way sometimes," she says. "You feel like you have to look a certain way or be a certain way, but that's not the case. This is a way for me to be a part of a beauty community and say, 'I'm practicing and I'm learning, and you can too."
For more from Selena Gomez, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.