It all starts with a trip to Mexico.
In 2015, months after filming her last video, Hands To Myself, Selena Gomez is on vacation. Her friends are drinking piña coladas and having fun on the beach, and she’s in her room watching movie after movie until she gets to the documentary about Madonna’s life, Truth or Dare.
The story of the fame she follows on the screen shakes her to the core, but even then Gomez herself does not understand why. All she remembers is running to her friends and yelling, “Guys, you have to watch this.”
It turns out that one of them knows the film’s director, Alec Keshishian, and weeks later, Selena and her team discuss the possibility of Keshishian making a documentary about the pop star. However, the director has his conditions.
“If you want me to do it right, you’ll give me full access to everything. That’s how I worked with Madonna,” Keshishian says, but Selena Gomez isn’t ready to grant his wish.
It took another 6 years and intensive psychotherapy before she called Keshishian again with the news that she could now make the documentary about her the way he wanted – with the whole truth about the star that her PRs were diligently hiding from the media.
Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, directed by Keshishian, debuts on November 4 on the Apple+ streaming service, and from the on-camera narration, it’s clear why Mexico’s Selena Gomez’s excitement fades when she realizes she has to be completely candid in her documentary.
It’s not her toxic relationship with Justin Bieber that makes her uncomfortable. Nor her years at Disney. Gomez has been wary of talking about her bipolar disorder and mental health issues that escalated in her early 20s.
“I want to be honest with you – I’ve been in 4 psychiatric centers. I’ve had moments where I can’t control my feelings and perceptions, whether they’re good or bad,” Selena told The Rolling Stones.
Her periods of overexcitement and melancholy have been on rotation for years, but no one around her pays much attention to it. It happened that she was so full of energy that she could not sleep for whole nights. She also had phases where she found no incentive to get out of bed.
Friends visit her, food is brought to her on a tray in the bedroom, but no one guesses that her condition is serious until 2018. Then the star begins to hear voices in her head that grow louder and louder, drowning out the real one world around her.
She was admitted to a psychiatric facility and, because of the hallucinations, was initially diagnosed with psychosis and severe paranoia.
“One of the scariest things about psychosis is that you don’t know when or if it will end. Sometimes it lasts for days, sometimes for weeks, and sometimes for a lifetime,” says Gomez.
After a while of shooting in different directions, the doctors settled on another diagnosis – bipolar disorder, explaining the alternating episodes of mania and sadness that hit her without anything having provoked them. After leaving the facility, Gomez found a psychiatrist who prescribed her medication that slowly improved the psychosis until it completely disappeared.
Controlling bipolar disorder, however, is far more complicated. Selena takes medication that prevents her from one day carrying and breastfeeding her own baby. Watch for exacerbation of symptoms, because if this happens, there is a risk that the psychosis will return.
Shortly before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the star visited Stanford University and spoke with lecturers about mental health care, and from them he learned that the small guidelines he has for controlling his illness are unknown to the public.
And if they are unknown, there is a great risk that they will escalate and bring the condition to a stage where psychosis is irreversible. This information changed Gomez’s mind about keeping her mental health a secret, and she decided to open up about her experiences adjusting to the diagnosis in the documentary Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me.
He realizes that if he continues to remain silent, he will reinforce the stigma and spread of myths about bipolar disorder.
“This film is not about me. I’m just the face of the problem. Am I the right person to talk about this? I don’t know. But I hope to help raise awareness about mental health. I wish there were more discussions, which will benefit medicine to prevent the problem,” Gomez says in his documentary
Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me premiered on November 4 at the same time as its streaming debut on Apple+. On the red carpet with Selena were Francia Raisa, Camila Caballo, Billie Eilish, Olivia Rodrigo. Taylor Swift, who Gomez says is her only friend in the music industry, told her from a distance that she was proud of her.
“And Kara (model Cara Delevingne note ed.) brought two strippers because she wanted the next day’s press to write that the event was a mix of sophisticated and erotic,” jokes the performer.
Selena has never seen the movie for herself and doesn’t plan to. Minutes before the screening starts, he leaves the hall and returns when the audience is on their feet.
Part of her therapy requires her not to dwell on her trauma and to stay off social media. For years, Gomez has not opened any of the mainstream platforms. She gave all the passwords to her assistant, who uploads photos and messages to fans, and she devotes herself only to activities that bring her peace.
“Now I’m going through the sunniest period of my life. Nothing compares to the pleasure of being at home, in front of the fireplace, reading a book or watching a series. I believe there is something above me, probably – my bipolar disorder, which he keeps me humble. Without him, I’d probably be just another empty-headed being who lives to wear nice clothes all the time,” says Gomez.