It’s never easy to have a real, emotional moment at an award show. But pop star Selena Gomez pulled it off at the American Music Awards, where she appeared for the first time in public since August. That’s when she canceled her tour to seek treatment for “anxiety, panic attacks and depression,” which she explained were side effects of her lupus diagnosis.

On Sunday, Gomez, 24, took the stage to accept the award for favorite pop or rock female artist and delivered a rather captivating speech.

“In 2014, this stage was actually the first time that I was authentically, 100 percent honest with all of you,” she said. “I think it’s safe to say that most of you know a lot of my life, whether I liked it or not.”

Translation: At the 2014 AMAs, Gomez performed “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” a somber tune about her fraught, on-again-off-again relationship with troubled pop star Justin Bieber, dutifully chronicled by every tabloid in the world. The excruciating opening monologue in the music video was a pretty good indication that things were not well, and the AMAs performance also felt intensely personal. (Taylor Swift, Gomez’s longtime best friend, cried in the audience.)

Anyway, back to Sunday’s show, where Gomez offered more insight into her state of mind at the time: “And I had to stop. ’Cause I had everything. And I was absolutely broken inside,” Gomez continued. “And I kept it all together enough to where I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.”

Earlier in 2014, Gomez entered a rehab facility, and rumors swirled about why she was there. Later that year, she confirmed that she was in rehab because she had been diagnosed with lupus and got chemotherapy treatments.

Gomez, who has also spoken out about being “body-shamed” online, addressed the pressure to look perfect on social media. “I don’t want to see your bodies on Instagram. I want to see what’s in here,” she said, pointing to her heart, as the audience cheered. “I’m not trying to get validation, nor do I need it anymore.”

“And I have to say thank you so much to my fans, because you guys are so damn loyal, and I don’t know what I did to deserve you,” she concluded, giving a shout-out to her fiercely loyal fan base. “But if you are broken, you do not have to stay broken. And if that’s anything, whether you respect me or not, that’s one thing you should know about me, is I care about people. And thank you so much for this. This is for you. Thank you.”

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