‘Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me’ review: A raw, relatable look into the mind of a star determined to heal

From her struggles with depression, bipolar disorder and lupus, Selena Gomez’s documentary on Apple TV+ is an honest visual diary entry into her mind, and her search for purpose and self-love

Updated - November 05, 2022 06:12 pm IST

Published - November 05, 2022 06:06 pm IST

A still from ‘Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me’ 

A still from ‘Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me’  | Photo Credit: Apple TV+

“Who says you’re not perfect, who says you’re not worth it?” the actress-singer-philanthropist sings, in a packed concert hall, stopping when the crowd’s singing overtakes her, and she’s overcome with emotion. For anyone who grew up watching Disney Channel in the 2000s-early 2010s, Selena Gomez is a household name, and her songWho Says is a self-love anthem, tied to that era, but nevertheless evergreen.

But in the new documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, directed by Alek Keshishian (who also directed the 1991 Madonna: Truth or Dare documentary), Gomez answers this question: it’s her. 

My Mind and Me is a raw, deeply-unfiltered and honest exposition on the mental health struggles of one of the biggest stars in the world; a young woman who, from the outside, has it all. But this is far from a being famous is so hard narrative. Gomez is seen repeatedly acknowledging and reckoning with her fame, her platform and the pressure associated with this importance that she is given. In one of the opening scenes, she breaks down into tears after a rehearsal for her Revival tour, upset that her performance was not good enough; that she is not good enough. Her anxiety is shocking at first, but still, relatable. 

Gomez is complex, layered and unafraid to bear her darkest secrets on screen. The documentary switches between fast montages of her performing at massive venues, of fans with tears streaming down their faces as she takes selfies with them, of her looking blank-faced as layers of makeup are painted onto her, of her depressed in her bed, in the car, of her and her cousin, walking around their neighbourhood together, and then, interludes of excerpts from her diary. The extreme highs and lows of this editing style show us Gomez, for who she is, beyond the woman we have seen on-screen. 

Selena Gomez in a still from the documentary

Selena Gomez in a still from the documentary | Photo Credit: Apple TV+

Gomez ends up ending the Revival tour, after 55 shows, following a mental health crisis. Still, we see the media hungrily trying to find an answer to why she suddenly had to quit, and then disappear. Drug use? Too much partying? Or maybe something related to her long-time boyfriend and singer, Justin Bieber. It’s a quick scene, but enough to nod to the damage the media can do, especially to young women, as was seen with Britney Spears.  

She is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It’s a scary situation, but she feels more at peace knowing what is happening to her mind, than living in this state of constant confusion. As she decides to make her diagnosis public, she’s warned by her team that the narrative may end up being different from what she intended. But as is the case throughout the documentary, Gomez is not hiding behind her mental health. She is using her struggles, and her platform, to try to help people.

But it doesn’t come off as like a celebrity trying to be a saviour. It comes off as a woman, whose identity has — for so long — been connected to her company, her characters, her boyfriend, who is now trying to build connections with people that make a positive impact. Sometimes it’s in the form of surprising students at her former school. Other times, it’s going on trips to Kenya, to see the school she funded there. 

But her mental health isn’t isolated from her physical health. Her struggles with lupus, an autoimmune disease, shines a light on physical ailments, in a way that isn’t shocking or othering or pitiful. Instead her relationship with her body is nuanced, and the complexities that a disease like lupus has on your mental health, is delicately portrayed, with Gomez both in despair when it comes back, but also determined to heal. 

The conversation around mental health has finally made it to the forefront, perhaps in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My Mind and Me is an important reminder that, at our core, we are humans who are in need or love, compassion and empathy, regardless of what our lives may look like on the outside. With the entertainment industry in particular having a shameful history of demeaning and humiliating celebrities, especially women, and especially women who have been working since their childhood, this film is recalibration of the narratives we have been forced to consume. As Gomez says, after all she’s endured, she’s still here. There must be a reason. If her goal is to help people, to raise awareness and stop at least one person from feeling alone with their battle with mental health, she has succeeded. 

Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me is currently streaming on Apple TV+

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