Selena Gomez has just released a documentary on her mental health struggles on Apple TV. Called “Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me,” it follows the singer’s struggles with bipolar disorder spanning a six-year period.
The docu goes to some deep and dark places, showing Gomez at her most vulnerable. The first 15 minutes, shot in a way that unsuspecting viewers would think they’re about to watch another concert documentary, ends up chronicling the turbulent end of her 2016 Revival Tour, which was canceled after 55 performances because of her deteriorating mental health. And we’re given a clear view of how dark that period was for her.
“At one point, she was like ‘I don’t want to be alive right now. I don’t want to live,'” says her former assistant.
After that, the documentary shows Gomez ambling her way to recovery while managing an extremely public life as a pop star. From discussing with her team on whether or not to publicize her bipolar disorder and struggling with her nerves as she made her American Music Awards comeback with “Lose You to Love Me” and “Look at Her Now” (and watched as critics mercilessly tore her performance) to her getting increasingly more upset as she did promo after promo where interviewers either didn’t understand her, weren’t listening, or wasted her time.
But there’s also a bright lifeline in the form of her philanthropic work with WE Charity in Kenya, but even that rug was pulled from under her when the charity went under investigation.
And of course, she’s balancing all that along with her struggles with lupus, the autoimmune disease she’s been battling all her life. In 2015, she spoke about having the paparazzi and tabloids accuse her of being a drug addict and that she was going on a hiatus to go to rehab—as if there was anything wrong about it in the first place—when in reality she was taking a break to undergo chemotherapy. Throughout the documentary, we see how much the paparazzi continues to abuse her. She says it best: “It’s hard being a fucking girl and being crazy already.”
This is the rawest we’ve ever seen Gomez. Throughout multiple points of the documentary, we see her break down and cry, be afraid of her own psychosis, and apologize for the person she becomes when she’s not in control. “I want nothing more than to not be my past,” she says near the beginning and echoes through the film, which is heartbreaking.
“Everything I ever wished for, I’ve had and done all of it,” she says. “But it has killed me. Because there is always Selena.”
The documentary was made by Alek Keshishian, the same mind behind the seminal 1991 Madonna concert documentary “Madonna: Truth or Dare.” In Rolling Stone’s recent profile on Gomez, he talks about the singer giving him full control and access to her life, and how the film became a concert docu to what it is now.
He saw “a deeper documentary here about a young woman struggling to incorporate her diagnosis—she was fresh out of the mental facility—and trying to reconcile the fact that she’s still a patient, she’s still in the earliest stages of her recovery, but she desperately wants to use her platform for good and to talk about it. There’s some tension there because obviously she’s trying to be an example for others, but she’s still not on the other side of it, so to speak.”
It also has some potent, powerful imagery. Some shots, when Gomez is narrating lines from her diary that show exactly how dark a place her brain was, have the pop star made up like a calaveras de azúcar, a symbol for the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. There’s something so evocative about seeing her claim her culture while showing how much she’s fought.
The singer also released a single called “My Mind and Me” to go alongside the documentary’s release. With lyrics like “I’m constantly fighting something that my eyes can’t see,” and “but if I pull back the curtain, maybe someone who’s hurting will be a little more certain they’re not the only one lost” and a chorus that goes “my mind and me, we don’t get along sometimes,” it’s a good companion piece that continues to elucidate the docu’s thesis.
One thing “My Mind and Me” also makes clear is how much Gomez wants to be a safe place for people who are struggling like her. When she’s done with music and acting and the celebrity lifestyle, she tells an interviewer, what she really wants to do is philanthropy. While she’s well on her to way that, we hope she gets there without losing herself first.
Photo screengrabbed from the “Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me” trailer