Selena Gomez doc pushes mental health transparency

For people struggling with mental illness, a diagnosis can change the way you see yourself, often for the better. It’s a label that helps you make sense of your symptoms, somewhere concrete to anchor the emotions that often make you feel out of control. While some people resist labels and challenge them, others feel validated.

Personally, they relieved me. When I was hospitalized in the early 2000s and diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, something I had long suspected was confirmed. Language allowed me to make sense of the situation and take control of my own mental health narratives. A diagnosis allowed me to work towards a cure.

Gomez has built her career as a musician and actress on kindness and honesty and comes across as an all-American girl. Part of Gomez’s goal in ‘My Mind & Me’ is to deconstruct this image.

But it can also bring conflicting feelings. Selena Gomez dedicated her new documentary, “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me”, to explore how being diagnosed with bipolar disorder changed her life and also set her on the path to recovery. But it wasn’t clear to her at first that finding out what was causing her pain would be a welcome development. “I didn’t know how I was going to cope with my diagnosis,” she says at the start of the film, on Apple+ Friday.

Gomez admitted she didn’t want to seek treatment at first. “I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to go to the mental hospital,” she says in the documentary. “I didn’t want to, but I didn’t want to be a prisoner of myself and my mind anymore. I thought my life was over; I thought, ‘This is how my life is going to be forever.’ »

Gomez has built her career as a musician and actress on kindness and honesty and comes across as an all-American girl. Part of Gomez’s goal in “My Mind & Me” is to deconstruct that image, to show how mental health issues can make you feel like a stranger to yourself. Part of healing is understanding your condition and embracing all the myriad selves that it involves. She wants to be transparent about her mental health in order to inspire others and help them feel less alone.

But it is not totally transparent. Throughout the film, we see a lot of standard celebrity documentary fare – Gomez is anxious about performing on her 2016 Revival tour, she breaks down because she’s worried she’s not good enough, we we discover that her relationship with her mother is complicated, she experiences the violation of aggressive paparazzi who harass her about her past relationship with Justin Bieber and accuse her of partying.

Gomez doesn’t owe us any specific details, but I was still disappointed that she chose to speak only in generalities and quirks. We often see her lying in bed – and for anyone who’s ever suffered from depression or anxiety, you know that’s code for things not being so rosy. But sometimes it is difficult to analyze what is the exhaustion of his career and the exhaustion of his health problems. Maybe that’s the point.

However, one particular scene underscores how external pressures have forced Gomez to tread carefully – and explains how people with mental health issues are still encouraged to speak in abstractions and generalities or to focus on the positive. . Gomez is working on writing a speech to deliver when she receives the McLean Award from the prestigious Massachusetts Psychiatric Hospital. She wants to talk about her bipolar disorder diagnosis when an assistant steps in with shockingly ignorant advice.

“No one thinks you have to say that, ‘bipolar.’ You are 27 and have plenty of time to tell the world exactly that,” the assistant says. “Unless you are determined that this is the time you want it… [but] it becomes the narrative, right there.

Gomez certainly isn’t thrilled to hear that response from a member of her team — and neither am I. It’s a poignant moment when a supposed ally steps in to tell a grown woman that it would be better if she kept quiet. In the video clip from the McLean event included in the documentary, Gomez does not discuss his bipolar disorder. She finally shared her diagnosis on an Instagram livestream with singer Miley Cyrus in 2020, about a year later.

Moments like this show how risky it still is for a celebrity to be outspoken about mental health. Revealing a diagnosis – even a personally empowering one – can be used against a person (most recently, Amber Heard’s alleged borderline personality disorder diagnosis was disturbingly exploited in Johnny Depp’s libel lawsuit against she). The stigma is real. And the only way to break the stigma is to continue educating the public.

Footage from Gomez’s trip to speak at a school in Kenya shows how passionate she is about mental health education. The film juxtaposes this meaningful visit with a segment in which Gomez has to make the rounds of talk shows and attend inane interviews where people ask him stupid questions.

“I feel like a product,” she confides after a particularly moving interview in which she feels she hasn’t really been heard. “She didn’t even pay attention to what I was saying. »

People with mental health issues are always encouraged to speak in abstractions and generalities or to focus on the positive.

The commodification of people as brands has deprived everyone of the ability to be truly authentic while making us completely cynical. For a celebrity who once had the most followed Instagram account, the performance of an identity versus the reality of it is crucial to understanding Gomez’s mental health advocacy.

“I am at peace. I’m mad. I’m sad. I’m confident. I am full of doubt. I’m a work in progress,” Gomez says at the end of the film, illustrating how the journey is never over, the story is still being written.

In a recent Rolling Stone interview meant to promote the documentary, Gomez speaks more candidly about her mental health struggles than in the documentary itself, explaining that she may not be able to have children if she continues to taking her current medications and recalling how she forgot some words while taking medications that may have been unnecessarily prescribed.

While Gomez’s path to recovery may have started with a diagnosis, her public advocacy journey is still in its infancy. She is clear that her recovery is a work in progress and that the key to healing is authentic connection with others. But as the documentary asks: In a climate like Hollywood, where authenticity is often a performance, is it possible?

Source: www.nbcnews.com


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