Selena Gomez offers a vulnerable and raw chance at a conversation around mental health in this powerful documentary.
*Trigger warning: mental health, self harm, and suicide*
Selena Gomez opens her documentary with a promise: “I’ll only tell you my darkest secrets.” She spends the next ninety minutes fulfilling that promise. Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, directed by Alek Keshishian, serves as a vulnerable glimpse into the star’s life as she navigates her journey to find a sense of self-peace amongst very public mental health struggles.
My Mind and Me sets the scene by showing the audience the Selena Gomez they are likely acquainted with: a young girl from Texas who fell into Disney Channel superstardom, which catapulted her into a successful music career. A young woman under intense scrutiny: every mistake broadcasted to the public, every relationship dissected by strangers. It’s suggested that these struggles have been building up for far longer than the audience may be aware, until it finally reaches a tipping point in 2016, when Selena decides to cancel her world tour to address her mental health concerns. All of this is established in the first ten minutes of the film.
What follows is a dissection of what happens next. After receiving treatment for bipolar disorder and lupus, Selena now finds herself trying to find her place in the world again, amidst the never-ending criticism from an outside world that at least appears to want to see her fail. The film almost plays like a conversation from here on out, one from which Selena does not hold back. She boldly and bravely lays it all out on the table, making her struggles known, and not resorting to glamorizing anything. She shows the audience everything: the highs and the lows. We see her visiting her childhood neighbors, who clearly view her with a level of genuine adoration. We see her visiting schools on her own time to encourage young people to follow their dreams. She goes to Kenya to help the WE charity make school for girls more accessible. The film presents a kind-hearted woman who seeks to make genuine change in the world, not for the optics, but because she clearly has a passion for helping others.
But we also see her lash out at her best friend for suggesting she get some rest. She gets frustrated with a journalist for asking superficial questions. She walks out of meetings because she feels overwhelmed. She freezes during rehearsal. Through tears, Selena explains that she would have moments of psychosis where she would be “so mean” to her family members. Her friends recount the time she openly talked about her desire to end her own life. These all serve as reminders that mental health struggles are ongoing, and do not take a day off. It’s equal parts heavy and raw, and brave and vulnerable.
And that is what makes My Mind and Me so powerful. It doesn’t glamorize Selena or her mental health struggles. It’s not self-congratulatory. It doesn’t even really focus on Selena herself. It would have been easy to end the documentary by emphasizing that in the last two years, Selena has launched a successful cosmetic line and starred on an Emmy nominated comedy show, thus suggesting that things magically got better for her. But that’s not the point it seeks to make.
My Mind and Me wants to serve as the beginnings of a greater conversation about mental health and how we approach it. By openly showing a public figure work through mental health issues in real time, the film is, in a way, normalizing these struggles. It’s so easy to say something like “It’s okay to not be okay” in passing, but Selena Gomez is openly showing it. Her bravery in doing so is beyond commendable. And, despite the fact that she has already made great strides in helping expand mental health resources through her Rare Impact Fund, which a portion of the proceeds from her cosmetic line benefit, and her recent lobbying in Washington, you get the sense that this documentary is just the beginning.
Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me transcends a mere “musician documentary,” to the point where anyone could be impacted by it whether or not they are a fan of Selena Gomez. While the subject matter is heavy, and may be triggering for some, the vulnerability and honesty in which it is handled makes it one of the more impactful documentaries of late.
Should Be Considered: Best Documentary
Where To Watch: Apple TV+
Lives in NC, where she is on a first name basis with the owners of her favorite pho spot.
Favorite Actress: Angela Bassett