Am I Crazy or is it Just Amanda Bynes?

I am posting this today because I can’t stop thinking about it and it’s too long for Facebook.

I have some, albeit limited, knowledge of mental illness. I have personally witnessed someone going through, what I believe was, a severe manic episode borne of bipolar disorder. I know from that experience that it’s not funny. It’s frightening and uncomfortable and aggravating and devastating for loved ones.

I know that in the U.S. sometime in the 1980s, mental health advocates got their way and mentally ill people could no longer be hospitalized without their consent or at least not for more than a couple of days. This is where I get vague on details. I do know the decision led to an even greater homeless problem because people were released from hospitals (I’m not a fan of what I know of state-run mental hospitals) and didn’t want to take their meds, couldn’t afford meds, couldn’t keep a job, etc.

If you have access to Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, grocery store check out lines, or orthodontist waiting rooms you may have read that Amanda Bynes, former child star on Nickelodeon is having some issues a la Bald Britney Spears.  Bynes is 27 and has clearly left the building, the tracks, the atmosphere — you get the idea. This once darling girl who I loved in Hairspray and Easy A (her last movie in 2010); is a complete train wreck.  My daughter used to watch The Amanda Show on Nickelodeon and said she was really funny. And now my 13-year-old just shakes her head, what happened?

Bynes behavior takes erratic to new heights, her face is pierced, she is clearly abusing drugs and alcohol, she has become a Twitter exhibitionist, her rap sheet is growing, and she is disfiguring herself with plastic surgery.

So why am I blogging about this?

I’m a mother.

This is a picture of Amanda Bynes’ parents:


Rick and Lynn Bynes look like people I see everyday. I’m not posting any of the millions of photos available of Amanda Bynes, if you want to see what a mess she is, you run the Google.

Here’s why I’m writing this. Last week I tired of seeing yet another story about Crazy Amanda Bynes. The latest story was that she had been arrested for throwing a bong out her apartment window, she said it was a vase. And I thought to myself, “where in the hell are this girl’s parents?!”

It turns out her parents are trying to get conservatorship of their daughter, which is what Britney Spears’ father did. Amanda won’t talk to her family. The legal system won’t let her parents make some decisions to help their daughter because she is 27.

I’m a mother. What if one of my daughters has a psychotic/bipolar break, which typically happens in the 20s. What if? And legally I have no way to help my child get the professional services she so clearly needs? Where is the balance between an individual’s right to make their own decisions and family’s obligation to keep them from hurting themselves? There is no question in my mind that Bynes has no ability to make responsible decisions regarding her own well-being.

I have no answers. Only questions. The twisted American entertainment media is promoting the Amanda Bynes spectacle and that makes me so sad for this girl. The Bynes family has some money, they have connections and they can’t help their daughter. What chance do average, everyday people have? Why can’t we (families, friends, police) step in before a young person dies from suicide or accidental overdose? before a kid shoots up a school? Before Amanda Bynes winds up in a gutter?

How do we find the balance between an individual’s rights to do what they please and society’s obligation to keep that same person from hurting themselves or others?

I wish I had some answers but I’m just a mom.

36 thoughts on “Am I Crazy or is it Just Amanda Bynes?

    1. Thanks. It makes me so sad and it is so scary. This country worries so much about our “social safety net” but won’t let us step in to help before the net is needed.

  1. O god, Maggie. I just wrote quite a long message about my experience of bipolar. I decided to finally talk about growing up with a bipolar mother and about how I’ve wondered all the things you’ve wondered. And then… The internet swallowed my comment and I’m annoyed. Anyway, I sympathise and I don’t know what the answer is.

  2. Anonymous

    This happened last year at UO. Student was suicidal and the health center there treated the student for an attempt. Student was older than 18 years of age, no one contacted mom or dad, and, tragically, student committed suicide a short while later. Before Christmas in the term, so mom and dad didn’t see it coming. No warning, this was a new medical crisis in their child’s life. HPPA should have some common-sense caveats so that doctors can do what they, in their professional opinion, think is best for the patient. Which, I’ve gotta believe, sometimes is letting their family know that the sick person needs help.

    1. That’s the thing is there is no logical procedure in place to deal with the what ifs? What if the arts tax is illegal? What if a 19 year old is trying to kill themselves? Think about it. Argh.

  3. Here’s a typical scenario:

    “Hello hospital speaking”

    Uh, hi, this is Officer Donofalltrades and I have a woman with two kids in her apartment who’s clearly off of her medication. She’s acting violently and irrational.

    “Is she injured?”

    Uh, no, not yet. Two police officers were finally able to wrestle her to the ground after talking her in from the balcony where she was threatening to toss her newborn from.

    “If she isn’t injured, what do you want us to do?”

    Um, I don’t know, maybe have a doctor check her out. A psychiatrist would be lovely.

    “I’m sorry, we don’t have a psychiatrist on staff at this late hour and the psych wing has been closed for years. No funding.”

    I see. So should I go ahead and leave her here with the kids and pray to Jesus that they all wake up ok in the morning?

    “I guess so, officer.”

    Ok then!

    So then it’s up to undereducated police officers to figure out what to do with these people and it never gets better!

    1. I work with first responders (paramedics, police, firefighters) and I hear this all too often. We’re lucky, in the Portland metro, to have a few psych wards that will take people who may be of harm to themselves or others, but what about in other areas that don’t? It’s a sad and scary world when we can’t help those who really need it.

  4. At first I thought Amanda Bynes was being a self-centered jerk, but it’s apparent that she is a mentally ill person in need of help. I don’t think it’s fair or fun to make fun of someone who is clearly out of his/her mind.

    The world is tough on young people, and even tougher on those who live in the public eye. I feel great sadness for her parents who have to not only watch their daughter break down before them, but do it in front of millions of people.

    1. I feel awful for Amanda and her family but I just keep thinking this goes on every day and no one knows, no one is paying attention. And we all know about Amanda and no one, it seems, can help help herself.

  5. You bring up a very heart felt truth. How can hands be tied when someone is obviously screaming for help? Of course she doesn’t want to talk to her parents. There are people who kidnap people to help them and do crazy stuff like that for reals, but how the eff do you get anywhere or even start to do this kind of vigilante thing? Its in the movies, but it is out there. I don’t know what I would do. Its not right. I hope they can help her or that someone steps in. Her comedic timing was PERFECTION for how young she was. Its very sad.

    1. You went through a tough time with your girl but what if it had happened a few years from now? You know? Apparently once kids are 18, they are good to go. So wrong.

  6. I agree with the above. You do ask important questions. It’s awfully sad that society is not asking the same ones. Instead of being proactive about her behavior and mental health, we’re simply being reactive to her behaviors through “news” articles, TMZ, etc.

    Thanks for posting this!

    1. Coincidentally, there is a bill before the Oregon senate funding greater mental health facilities and resources for children and young adults. Story was in the paper yesterday. Fingers crossed that the U.S. starts looking at dealing with the issues before they spiral fatally out of control.

      Thank you for reading!

  7. If the situation there is like the UK then her family could get a 2 doctors from separate surgeries to section her. She could then be kept in until she was stabilised. The law allows the police to remove someone to a ‘place of safety’ if they are found outside to be exhibiting mental health problems liable to bring harm to the person,. A place of safety is a police station or a psychiatric hospital for assessment. They are not allowed to do this with someone with just a drug or alcohol dependency but they can if they exhibit mental health problems alongside one of those two dependencies.
    The big issue before was that the law changed so that no-one could be kept in with a mental health problem if that problem could be controlled by drugs allowing the patient to led a normal life, I don’t think anyone thought that there would be so many who would not take the medication leading to so many problems. In both countries the mental health act needs tightening to offer more help on the outside to released patients.

    1. It’s a huge issue and we aren’t really getting “news”. We are getting tabloid stories. I think she went in for a psych evaluation at her last arrest but no actual news on that. I believe in the US she can be put in a 72 hour hold but then has to opt for treatment or she is let go. Poor thing. Poor everyone with this. So many crimes could be avoided if people got help before it was too late.

  8. I agree 100%. It’s a sick entertainment spectacle. People/tabloids are making big money off of her. You’re exactly right about her having a psychotic break- I’d bet she’s Bi-Polar. I always loved her. I thought she was one of the child actors that would succeed in life. “What a Girl Wants” – ’nuff said.

    Our society/ laws need to be changed to protect people like Amanda. It’s so wrong that she’s out there, crying for help, and no one is able to come to her aid. Very Sad.

    1. I’m with you except that I haven’t seen “What a Girl Wants”. If someone like Amanda Bynes can’t get help and everyone knows what is happening, what chance do kids/young adults who are trying to hide it stand?

  9. Even though I had seen Amanda Bynes In Hair Spray, she only began registering on my radar in recent weeks because her erratic behavior is unavoidable online. Until I read your thoughtful post, I dismissed her as yet another train wreck following in the stiletto steps of Lindsay Lohan, who once seemed to have so much acting promise. You ask many good questions. This does happen to some starlets, but not to others. I think the media exploits these people but the public has a rabid appetite for trash mag journalism, too. They love to rubberneck when someone is in free-fall. Any 27-year-old woman with a thimble of self-esteem would not behave like bynes. I just never put any thought until now that mental illness is probably a huge factor here. Maggie, I hope she lives long enough to get the treatment she needs. You’re right, this cannot be easy on her parents.

    1. You know Lame, in the past few years, as my kids have gotten older, when I see trainwrecks out there I have begun thinking “where are the parents”. Lindsey Lohan doesn’t stand a chance because her parents are filthy greedy wretches. I think Amanda Bynes, Britney Spears have honest to god mental illness; they aren’t just assholes.

      Again, it makes me fear for people out of the spotlight. If the country can ogle at Ms. Bynes going insane right in front of us, what about the people who are trying to hide it or are just plain old under the radar?

  10. Thank you for addressing this topic with compassion and a perspective so many can relate to as parents. It is sad and frightening, and too often we just watch as the world makes fun of the break-down du jour.

  11. Sally

    great discussion. I have watched my best friend struggle through 2 major episodes of bipolar and we too couldn’t admit her to get help unless she chose to (thank God that something within her knew she needed help). I too grew up watching Amanda Bynes and love her movies and my heart breaks for her and for her parents. No one teaches these kids how to deal with all the trappings of celebrity (which I am assuming has contributed to her downward spiral)… whatever the cause I hope she gets the help she needs. I am not a Mum yet but it scares the hell out of me to think this could happen to my kids when I do have them. I really liked your post it is compassionate and caring and your kids are lucky to have such a great Mum 🙂

    1. Thank you Sally. I didn’t go into it in this post but the wisdom of putting children into show business at such a young age is questionable. I have a daughter who’s a teen and all she wants is to go to LA. Easy girl! It just seems to be such a toxic environment.

      Thanks for reading!

  12. I didn’t know who she was until I read a Sweet Mother post that referenced her. I couldn’t believe it was the same person (in pics), and thought the same thing, “Where are her parents?”
    She looks alone. Obviously she’s reaching our for help, but the media loves a train wreck.

  13. Anonymous

    “Earn more sessions BY sleeving.” As you know, I’m NEVER wrong. Here’s proof:

    As for the FB thing, I’m rarely on it as I’ve felt all along that the whole concept was/is nothing more than a front for the NSA…and I’ve been proven correct, yet again…

    How are you???

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