Typically, I am not impressed by Hollywood’s entitlement and need to tell us how to think. I get frustrated by the thought process, “Do as I say, not as I do.” How often have we seen a documentary about someone struggling with mental health only for them to continue doing what they know begets their triggers? Too often. If I could only use one word to describe Selena Gomez’s new documentary, My Mind & Me (now streaming on AppleTV+), it would be: refreshing. For the first time, we see the human inside the shell the world created called “Selena Gomez”. In fact, the film opens with Selena narrating a diary entry of hers. She reads the following:
“December 19. I have to stop living like this. Why have I become so far from the light? Everything I ever wished for, I’ve had and done all of it, but it has killed me because there’s always ‘Selena’.”
Her audience gets to see she is someone like you or me, just with a pretty awesome career to supplement! However, as she states, it has all come at a price: her health. A lupus diagnosis, kidney transplant, and bipolar diagnosis, and she is still standing. She says it killed her. The cost of fame and a public career is limited privacy. Only our little world knows when you or I go through a traumatic event. Can you imagine going through a traumatic event in front of the entire world? I really can’t. To see such raw, genuine footage of a highly publicized figure is rare. It is ironic since that is the title of Selena’s most recent album (released in 2020), and beauty company, Rare Beauty. Rare Beauty champions the Rare Impact Fund which has set the goal of raising $100M over the next ten years to help give access to mental health services. AMAZING, right? You can find out more about the fund here. Needless to say, Selena is most certainly rare, and thank God she is.
In the film, Selena is asked, “What’s holding you back?” She replies, “That I’m not good enough. That’s something that I felt a lot of growing up.” Wow. Me too. That exemplifies my point. She feels the same way we all do. It helps to connect with someone you would never have guessed you had so much in common with.
In the documentary’s official trailer, Selena narrates the following:
“Just be who you are Selena. No one cares what you’re doing. It’s about who I am. Being okay with where I am. I am grateful to be alive. Let me make a promise. I am going to stop living like this. How do I learn to breathe my own breath again?”
Once I heard that, I was hooked. It felt like she took the words right out of my mouth, which was comforting. Not because I wanted to hear all the bad that had happened to Selena Gomez. It was comforting because I could relate to her pain. I am incredibly thankful to have such a public advocate fighting to end the mental health stigma. Selena does not just talk the talk; she also walks the walk. She lives her truth.
The film opens on her Revival Tour and takes the viewer through Selena’s life from 2016 to the present day (or at least close). She pledged to film with nothing off limits and did so for many years. As much of a mental health advocate as I am, I am unsure I could do that. My anxiety would set in. “What would others think?” However, I only have a world that extends so far; Selena is known globally. That is a HUGE difference, and anyone who undermines that is simply wrong. Selena even said in her interview on Jay Shetty’s podcast, On Purpose, (a MUST listen):
“…Maybe I shouldn’t do this, maybe I shouldn’t release it [the documentary]. And this is too honest; this is too much of myself. Until I realized that, ultimately, it was meant for something bigger. It wasn’t just about me; it was about other people. And it took a life of its own and became what it is now, which I’m still nervous about, I’m still anxious about. But I think releasing it is a huge healing process for me. And it’s me letting go of that version of myself…”
Thankfully, she chose to release the documentary. Will there be critics? Of course. As much as we wish we could shield her and the creators from it, they all know it comes with the territory. She willingly chose to release it, knowing she would face critics, courageous to say the least. However, what may have been enough to stop most of us, did not stop her. She saw the bigger picture of how this could impact the world for the better. They say not one person can change the world as a whole. Maybe that is true; however, one person can change others’ hearts by sharing their experiences and perceptions. In turn, that changes the world one heart at a time. We are not usually this lucky to see the good and bad. The reality. The truth. That is a gift we must thank Selena for.
Selena undeniably has sacrificed herself to take up the mantle and be the face of mental health awareness. Although I am not in her position, I can’t imagine that being easy. However, I, along with so many, applaud her and sincerely thank her. Instead of telling us “it is okay to not be okay”, she showed us. She showed us that we are not the only ones who have bad days. We are not the only ones who struggle to get out of bed or leave the house. She showed us that no amount of fame, influence, or money can beget happiness. It must come from within. I love that in her podcast interview with Jay Shetty, Selena stated:
“… it’s a choice sometimes, but then I also hate when people say that because sometimes I genuinely wake up in a depressive state and I can’t get out of bed, but I allow myself to have that day and focus on things that can make me feel better instead of pushing it away…”
I can certainly relate to that statement, and I know I am not the only one. I have also been frustrated by the phrase, “Happiness is a choice.” While I know much of it is true, we cannot forget about the biological component of mental health either. It is a delicate balance of nurture and nature. I also love that she acknowledged that she “allows herself to have that day”. We all need to be a little kinder to ourselves and give ourselves time and space to heal. I think that is an extremely important point that gets often overlooked.
One of the most relatable statements Selena makes in the documentary is as follows:
“There’s a voice that comes in my head saying, ‘You miss this. That sucked. Oh, you get a glimpse of yourself on the screen — wow, that looks pretty f–in’ s–ty,” she says. “It just sucks the life out of me, and I don’t want to perform. The pressure is just overwhelming because I want to do the best I can and I am not…”
Who is your biggest critic? Most often, you are. We are the ones who are genuinely the cruelest to ourselves. We know our own deepest insecurities. We can then exploit them because we know they will strike a chord. Ever heard of being your own worst enemy? That applies here. However, let me be clear it is not because we want to feel this way or want others to pity us. No. In fact, we cannot always control this. So, please give one another some grace; people are trying their best just like you.
In the interview with Jay Shetty, he mentioned,
“… you’re one of these people that you serve to heal, and you give to let go. And that’s such a beautiful cycle because I think often we think when we are going through things that the more insular we go…”
Rare, again, we arrive at this word. It is rare to find someone who can identify that their healing is attained through service. More people need to venture outside their comfort zone to explore service as an option to heal. Selena is doing the right thing, which deserves to be celebrated no matter who you are or where you come from. She deserves numerous accolades for her work in the mental health community. She has done so much it’s hard to mention it all, but here are a few more:
1. Selena, her mother Mandy, and Daniella Pierson have started Wondermind, a mental health fitness website. Wondermind states:
“Mental fitness means working on your mental health—whatever that looks like to you. It takes more than an inspirational quote to really change your mindset. But showing up for your mental health shouldn’t be expensive, inaccessible, or time consuming. Even if you’re lucky enough to see a therapist, making time for your mind in between sessions can go a long way. That’s what we’re here for—to give you easy, doable ways to put your mental fitness first every day.”
You can learn more about Wondermind here.
2. Did you know she was working with the United States government to form a Mental Health curriculum? You can learn more about her work here!
3. As seen in the documentary, she also raised money with the We Charity to start not one but two schools for girls on Africa. Learn more about her work here.
Amazing would be an understatement. This woman has dedicated herself to a cause that has profoundly affected and shaped her. In her song she sings, “If somebody sees me like this then they won’t feel alone now.” Thank you to Selena for letting us know we aren’t alone. If you want to watch a refreshing documentary, I highly recommend My Mind & Me, now streaming on Apple TV+.
Keshishian, A. AppleTV+. (2022). Selena Gomez My Mind & Me. United States. https://tv.apple.com/us/movie/selena-gomez-my-mind–me/umc.cmc.39yw4dp13gshxq5bt9fsl0o5y
Shetty, J. (2022, November 7). SELENA GOMEZ ON: BEFRIENDING YOUR INNER-CRITIC & HOW TO SPEAK TO YOURSELF WITH MORE COMPASSION PODCAST. On Purpose with Jay Shetty. other. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://jayshetty.me/podcast/selena-gomez-on-befriending-your-inner-critic-and-how-to-speak-to-yourself-with-more-compassion/.
Vogue Taiwan. (2021). File:Selena Gomez in 2021.jpg. Wikimedia Commons. photograph, Taiwan; Vogue Taiwan. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Selena_Gomez_in_2021.jpg.