Selena Gomez, Mental Health, Disabilities, and Emotional Intelligence

I watched Selena Gomez’s documentary “My Mind & Me” on Saturday. I was going to watch a mindless Christmas show, but this caught my attention because I have been hearing whispers that she is a mental health advocate and has mental health struggles herself.

Wow! I am so glad I watched this. About twenty minutes in, it caught Jake’s attention too and he watched it with me.

Selena is a child prodigy. She began her career on Barney, which was fun, but as she grew she fell in love with work more and more—as a kid! She went on to do several things, most notably in acting “Wizards of Waverly Place.” And she became a huge musical star. She eventually lost herself in the fame. She was breaking down and crying a lot wondering when she was ever going to be enough on her own.

While the fame may not sound familiar to many of us—and it is easy to forget she is human because she is famous—but does the overworking and feeling like it is never enough sound familiar? And the worst enemy might actually be ourselves?

This intensity of work and making children workhorses will eventually catch up, and it did for her—and so many other Disney stars who are now speaking up. As a gymnast, I am seeing it in gymnastics too, including myself. Little girls being pushed so hard and so young. Selena had a major mental health break—publicly. She had to stop for a while. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in addition to her lupus. She also had a kidney transplant due to her lupus.

In all this, Selena is finding her path to healing through connection. So am I. All these challenges and trials are leading her to connect with people she never probably would have before. She hears them and goes to them.

Here is why I am writing this post. Selena said something that I have been saying I want to do ever since I got to Norman. She wants some kind of bill passed to get emotional intelligence education in our schools! This is what I have been saying too and I thought it was just a pipe dream. Now someone with a platform, who also understands this is going to have to start with children, is saying it and has already gone to the White House this year to talk with Biden about it!

God is showing me what I need to see and hear. I know I am being led somewhere with the incredible gifts God has given me. I have learned I am enough as I am, and there is no more beautiful gift than that. I want to share and help heal, as Selena does as well. And God will use me in God’s timing. She did not give me these gifts with some experation date on them. That is capitalism speaking.

Selena was talking to a mental health professional in the documentary about how important it is to teach people to connect with their emotions and to learn how to process and understand them. Emotions are information.They make us human. The mental health professional agrees and said this: when we ask people to disassociate from themselves for some norm that does not exist, it is leaving people without any ability to feel or have empathy for others.

Mr. Rogers tried to leave public television for a bit to work with adults on this, but found it was too late. He wanted to know why some people can take one trial after another and keep getting back up, and some cannot—not even a few trials. Their God (love) had become too small and they would not respond. He returned to children.

Here is where I am: I am ready to do whatever needs to be done with whatever age I am called to work with. Children seems likely, but I have talked to several school teachers who expressed they want this for themselves too.

Tricia Hersey in her book “Rest is Resistance” is naming academia as one of the main sites for grind culture: “Grind culture is violence and violence creates trauma” Here is a longer passage of what she is saying about academia.

“The stress, anxiety, overloaded curriculum, and pressure we normalize in public schools and higher education are toxic and dangerous for everyone involved, but particularly for young children and young adults who are still developing a sense of self. They are exposed to the lie that their worth is determined by how much they can accomplish constantly and it’s reaffirmed and rewarded when they push their bodies to the limit to do well in classes….
We internalized the toxic messages received from culture and begin to hate ourselves unless we are accomplishing a task. We seek external validation from a violent system void of love.”

I will leave you with some lyrics from Selena Gomez’s song “My Mind & Me”:

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