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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 6

Paula Abdul gushes that judging 'American Idol' is her "purpose in life"

By Christopher Rocchio, 06/05/2007 

American Idol has helped numerous singers find their path in life, and apparently its done the same for judge Paula Abdul.

"I didn't find out my purpose in life until American Idol," said Abdul in the June 11 issue of OK! Weekly.  "I knew since I was a little girl that I had this profound way of touching people.  My purpose is bringing out everybody's best and being that cheerleader to other people's success."

The revelation by the 45-year-old that she hadn't found her place in life until Idol's 2002 premiere could be considered somewhat surprising since her career as a dancer, choreographer and singer were all established prior to that.  She initially gained notoriety working as a Los Angeles Lakers' Laker Girl and becoming the eventual choreographer for the group.  She then went on to choreograph music videos for numerous artists, from Duran Duran and Dolly Parton to Janet Jackson and INXS.  As a pop-star in the 1980s, Abdul sang numerous hits, including "Opposites Attract," "Forever Your Girl," "Rush, Rush" and "Crazy Cool."  "Opposites Attract"'s music video won Abdul a 1991 Grammy Award for best short form music video.

"I've had three separate careers and shots at superstardom, the third time around with this show.  Being a judge on American Idol overshadows being a Grammy Award winner and selling millions of records," she told OK!

While appearing as an Idol judge may have been a blessing for Abdul, it's also made her life more hectic than ever.  Her Bravo docu-reality series Hey Paula! is scheduled to premiere June 28; she's producing her new Bratz: The Movie project; she's developed her own line of perfumes and cosmetics; has her own originally-designed jewelry line; markets a clothing line she started; and also makes numerous personal appearances.

"If I appear exhausted on television, it's because I am!" Abdul told OK!.  "I have a lot of sleepless nights because I'm in so much pain.  I was taking far more medications on earlier seasons [of Idol], and nobody said anything.  I try to say something and I stumble, and that's what people have picked up on.  I'm not polished."

In April 2005, Abdul revealed she suffers from a rare neurological disorder called complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), which causes the chronic pain she feels. 

"I have had Botox injections in my neck to numb the nerves but it didn't really work.  I had three injections in eight years," Abdul told OK!.  "I inject myself with a shot of Humira every two weeks, which is very helpful.  I also use Enbrel [which like Humira can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis], Relafan [an anti-inflamatory drug] and the painkiller lidocaine.  Two or three times a week I have a specialist message to calm the nervous system.  I see an acupuncture specialist who deals in head and spinal-cord trauma."

She's also bee diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy, a chronic condition characterized by severe pain that has no cure.  However she said much of the pain she feels is no longer a symptom of the condition.

"I have four titanium plates in my neck.  I've had 14 surgeries over the years.  I had an operation the same evening as the first season finale of American Idol," Abdul explained to OK!.  "It can come and go at any time, but I no longer have the intense nerve pain that is associated with RSD, thank God."

Having survived an auto accident when she was hit by a drunk driver in 1987; a plane crash in 1993; as well as eating disorders throughout the early years of her life, Abdul told OK! she's never thought about suicide but does suffer from depression.

"I've survived a number of crises, and with it comes depression," she told OK!.  "I have really good therapists.  I'm not afraid to ask for help.  I need help.  I've been through some major s**t where depression could have been a disease for me and led me to not even be here."

In addition to the crises that affected her early life, Abdul has had to endure media scrutiny while serving as an Idol judge.  She's constantly heckled by fellow judge Simon Cowell; has to frequently deny rumors she takes drugs recreationally and drinks heavily; constantly deals with reports that she's being replaced on Idol; was at the center of a reported sex scandal with former Idol 2 finalist Corey Clark, who alleged that he and Abdul had a sexual relationship while he was competing on the series; and most recently had an alleged run-in with her dog that ended with her breaking her nose and had to deal with a private phone conversaton she had with publicists being leaked to the media.

"I have felt like an outsider, yet I've always had so much love from my fans," she told OK!.  "I've worked very hard.  I know how powerful I am.  I was rejected, rejected, rejected, and told that I was not meant to be a dancer.  I never fit the mold, but I went on to become the most famous choreographer in the world.  I'm a warrior.  I'm not the best dancer, and I'm certainly not the best singer, but I am an entire package of a great performer."

Abdul aid she's only recently started to date again, but said success is minimal because "men are intimidated by me."  While she'd like to become involved in a romantic relationship, Abdul said there's also nothing wrong with being single.

"I would never be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship.  I feel okay on my own," she told OK!.  "Real love is understanding who I am and loving myself even when I didn't like myself.  I love being in love.  I really do.  I'm proud of who I am."

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