My Mind and Me: Selena Gomez and Her Psychological Battles

Apple TV recently premiered a documentary about the last six years of Selena Gomez. It's a dark and candid story of her battles with mental health.
My Mind and Me: Selena Gomez and Her Psychological Battles

Written by Valeria Sabater

Last update: 23 November, 2022

It’s hardly surprising to learn that, in Hollywood, as in the world of music, all that glitters isn’t gold. Indeed, we know that not all stars are happy and that behind the makeup and sequins and in the privacy of the dressing rooms, there are many tears and lonely battles. That’s because the kind of success that comes fast and brings with it millions of fans and huge contracts leaves hardly any room for mental balance.

My Mind and Me is an Apple TV documentary about Selena Gomez. It’s not a happy portrait of an artist who’s achieved everything there is to achieve in show business. Quite the opposite. In fact, it’s an intimate journey in which we see her completely fall apart and later try to rebuild the dark areas of her life that stardom has caused since her childhood working for Disney.

Living under public scrutiny, dealing with interviews and the siege of the paparazzi isn’t easy for anyone, especially when they’re also dealing with the demons of anxiety, fear, self-demand, and health problems. Selena Gomez brings us a sincere and much-needed testimony about her psychological problems, just as Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, and Billie Eilish did before her.

“There’s a girl wracked with anxiety, who can’t move when she looks in the mirror. She smiles when everyone is looking at her, but cries when she’s alone. She hides because she’s terrified of showing herself as she is. My world is so empty, so big and cold.”

-Selena Gomez-

Selena Gomez
Currently, Selena Gomez is one of the biggest activists for mental health.

Fears, lupus, and bipolar disorder

The Selena Gomez documentary was directed by veteran director, Alek Keshishian. He made a similar production with Madonna in 1991 entitled Madonna: Truth or Dare. Thanks to him, the way filmmakers portrayed the world of celebrities changed. He believes that to really get to know someone, their dark parts must be revealed, those that usually remain out of the spotlight.

In My Mind and Me, Keshishian manages to undress the artist and the brand of ‘Selena Gómez’, to show us the real young woman who lives inside her. We discover someone who, while surrounded by hairdressers, makeup artists, and assistants, cuts an apathetic and sadly neglected figure. Someone, who despite having everything, admits that there are days when she struggles to stay alive.

The documentary begins six years ago, just as Selena was preparing for her Revival tour. However, after 54 performances, she canceled the tour and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. She then began a journey that would act as an exorcism for her demons. It was a moment in which many realities were erased from her life, and the new term ‘mental health’ appeared in her daily routine.

“My thoughts often take over my mind. It hurts to think about my past, I want to breathe again. I love myself? How do I learn to breathe my own breath?”

-Selena Gomez-

The descent into the abyss

Keshishian perfectly captures the dark moments that allow us to really get to know the young artist. In her tour rehearsals in 2016, we see her crying with her team and managers. “I have no idea what the hell I’m doing…” she insists through her tears. “It sucks the life out of me and I don’t want to act”.

Selena Gomez is the product of a society that emphasizes perfection, and a direct victim of the killer known as marketing. She longs to forever break her umbilical cord to her past with Disney, as Miley Cyrus did in her day. She wants to show her adult sensuality, but without falling into vulgarity. Indeed, she longs to be the artist that the public wants and the director of her record company has chosen. However, she doubts herself and feels fallible and incapable of being what (supposedly) everyone wants.

The show demonstrates how excessive demands completely drained Selena Gómez while her team didn’t really know how to react. In fact, she was witnessing her own self-destruction. Her fall into the abyss came in 2018 when, after being diagnosed with lupus and receiving a kidney transplant, she suffered a psychotic break.

The resurgence and the constant attempt to save herself

The accumulation of emotions in My Mind and Me is constant, moving, and effective and helps us really connect with Selena. Her admission for two months in a psychiatric hospital and the diagnosis of bipolar disorder represent a before and after in her existence. Also, in her artistic career.

Many might think that the goal of the documentary is to make the audience aware of the importance of mental health. Obviously, this is so. However, this production also reveals a person who’s trying to save herself virtually on a daily basis.

Fame continues to generate anxiety in her and, although she’s surrounded by cameras and makeup artists and subject to professional obligations, Selena looks around her as if none of it exists. As if she herself wasn’t really there. In an attempt to, presumably, find her own roots and purposes, we see her visit the places where she grew up and was educated.

We accompany her on an emotional trip to Kenya to meet the young women whose educational project she finances and we discover her new projects advocating mental health. She now faces a constant battle to find authenticity in a world that mistakes the genuine for physical perfection.

Fame, the real disease

We might say that the documentary about Selena Gómez is a challenging testimony from someone whose success devoured her personal self. Indeed, there are many moments in which we see her facing a society that continues to see her as the ex-Disney girl. Or, Justin Bieber’s ex. Nevertheless, she’s working to be an artist with her own voice in the middle of a musical jungle.

However, the media, photographers, and journalists continue to treat her as a product. They subject her to headlines, news, and simplistic and humiliating interviews that outrage her. She’s not only fighting against her own physical and psychological illnesses, but she must also face the most harmful of all: her own fame.

“I’m trying to be my best friend. I think I needed to go through that to be who I am.”

-Selena Gomez-

Selena Gomez: more darkness than light

In My Mind and Me, we discover a sick, tired, tearful, moody, anxious, spoiled, yet hopeful Selena Gomez. At one point, her friend Raquelle even points out that most people can’t imagine how ‘complex’ Selena can be. This undoubtedly makes the documentary more authentic, because we know that, as human beings, we’re especially complex when it comes to suffering.

This production doesn’t reveal every aspect of Selena Gomez’s personal journey through those years of her ups and downs. Moreover, there’s still more darkness than light in her life. However, we don’t and shouldn’t need to know everything. In fact, she’s achieved her goal of revealing the dark side of stardom which brings us closer to her.

This proximity shows us that we all, in our own way, have the same goal. We want to find reasons to continue living each day, try to be less demanding of ourselves, and be more genuine.

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  • Fahed, M., & Steffens, D. C. (2021). Apathy: Neurobiology, Assessment and Treatment. Clinical psychopharmacology and neuroscience : the official scientific journal of the Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology19(2), 181–189. https://doi.org/10.9758/cpn.2021.19.2.181