Justin Bieber’s silent struggle with Lyme disease

Celebrity, Lyme disease, and the cruel face of the Internet

Bieber's diagnosis reminds social media users to take tabloid reports with a grain of salt.

In an Instagram post last week, Justin Bieber candidly revealed he had been diagnosed with Lyme disease despite suffering silently from related symptoms for the last few years.

However, due to the late diagnosis, he had suffered depression and other severe health issues, which have triggered his recent appearance changes, including looking ill and having blotchy skin.

Lyme disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria carried by tics. Although it can often be treated with courses of antibiotics, it’s difficult to diagnosis due to its unspecific symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and joint pain. What many people aren’t aware of is that misdiagnosis or late diagnosis can lead to severe long-term health issues requiring complicated treatment.

Bieber’s post revealed the singer has grown tired of being grossly misjudged through incorrect accusations like drug addiction, with headlines frequently reading: “Justin sparks meth panic” and “Justin Bieber fans fear he’s back on meth.” In his post, Bieber also makes reference to the media and members of the public who have commented on his appearance over the past couple of years, as he’s progressively suffered from the disease.

Bieber’s shocking revelation of his illness has called into question our consumption of news. Even if we haven’t made the accusations ourselves, many of us are guilty of reading tabloid stories and assuming that just because something was published means it’s true. It shows just how easy it is to believe what we read: of course, his tired eyes, flared-up skin, and infrequent public outings must immediately equate a meth addition.

What this story really reminds us is that everyone has private battles—whether they choose to share them or not. This is no less the case for public figures. In this era of social media, the Internet is rife with trolls, ruthless tabloid sources, and misguided but well-meaning fans. As a result, it’s easy to become numb to unkind comments and nasty headlines aimed to catch our attention.

Bieber’s online confession calls into question why we’re so fiercely critical of celebrities, and so cruelly intrusive of their lives. We’re quick to judge, and we’re slow to change. Perhaps this story, at its heart, will allow us to show compassion on the Internet, more room for support, and less space for accusations and criticisms.

In terms of Bieber’s diagnosis itself, this revelation and the publicity surrounding Lyme disease has brought about a new surge of articles about the condition—its contraction, symptoms, and treatment.

The musician, whether you like him or not, has openly spoken about his intimate struggle with the illness. In doing so, he has brought a new spotlight and understanding to the disease, spreading public awareness. The press and attention this receives can only be valuable to those who currently suffer from Lyme disease or may suffer from it in the future.

With all of this in mind, it’s important that we support Bieber in his desire to be “back and better than ever” and use this as a lesson to take future tabloid headlines with a grain of salt.

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