After being diagnosed with lupus and bipolar disorder, Selena Gomez explores her challenges with stardom, and medical and mental health in the 2022 documentary “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me.” The film follows the singer and actress throughout her career, covering her life from her mid-20s to the present day, and filmed over a six-year period.
The movie’s first 15 minutes take place in 2016, as a noticeably younger Gomez—then 23—gets ready for a world tour in support of her album “Revival.” “Revival” was released in 2015 and was intended to help her transition from Disney star to an independent artist.
In the opening scene, Gomez breaks down in tears backstage at one of her concerts. While crying, she says she desperately wants to shed her childlike image and feels she is a disappointment.
“I have to stop living like this,” Gomez says in the documentary, showing the early stages of her mental health struggles.
To the untrained eye, her crying episodes appear to be a combination of weariness and unreadiness. But when viewers learn the tour is suspended and Gomez is taken to a mental hospital, the movie feels like it has just begun.
Maggie Hoban, junior education major, is a lifelong fan of Gomez and was impressed with the documentary. She recalled watching Gomez on Disney Channel growing up and listening to her music.
“I thought the documentary was great. It’s not every day a celebrity like Selena allows you to see into their life like she did,” Hoban said. “I’m glad she allowed us to get to know who she is outside of the industry.”
In “My Mind & Me,” Gomez recounts her efforts to destigmatize mental illness and the dread and ultimate relief she felt when finally disclosing that she has bipolar disorder.
Rags to riches
Gomez was immersed in the spotlight at a very young age. She booked her first major Hollywood gig at seven years old on the children’s television show “Barney.” After continued success, she moved to Los Angeles at just 11 years old.
The documentary shines a light on Gomez’s childhood home life, showing her untraditional upbringing. Gomez’s mom gave birth to her when she was a young teenager. Her parents separated when Gomez was five.
Fast forward to 2016: Gomez starred on a hit TV show “Wizards of Waverly Place,” kickstarted a successful music career, and made a name for herself throughout the entertainment industry.
At the height of her stardom, fame began to take its toll. She was diagnosed with anxiety and bipolar depression. Then, she underwent a kidney transplant after her long struggle with lupus took a deadly turn.
Gomez’s film is not the first music documentary to show how lonely it can be at the top, but it’s one of the few to highlight that when mental illness is the source, there are no simple solutions.
“When I first got out I didn’t know how I would cope with my diagnosis. What happened if it happened again? What if the next time I didn’t come back? I needed to keep learning about it. I needed to take it day by day,” Gomez says in the film.
Hoban thought the documentary shined a much-needed light on mental health.
“I think this documentary was a huge step for mental health awareness. Not many celebrities come out and speak up about their mental health and put on a face for social media,” Hoban said. “People tend to hide away from these emotions, and it was so important for Selena to put out this documentary and let people know it’s okay not to be okay.”
The documentary proves that even the biggest names in entertainment are just like everyone else at the end of the day. They struggle with self-confidence and also have thoughts of self-doubt.
“This does not make me faulty. This does not make me weak. This does not make me less than. This makes me human,” Selena declares.
The most poignant aspect of the movie, however, may not be Gomez’s call for greater mental health awareness, but rather her willingness to share her story in an endeavor to save her own life.
Hoban said, “This documentary was huge for people, as it shows you shouldn’t hide away from these feelings that we may feel aren’t normal.”
As Gomez explains, “What has been is not what will be.”