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My Heart Goes Out to Amanda Bynes' Parents

Photograph by Getty Images

When I think about Amanda Bynes, I think about her parents. I think about how it must feel to watch your daughter deteriorate so extremely and so publicly, to watch the little girl you raised and loved be so completely dismantled by a disease you have no control over.

And to be forced to stand back and do nothing, as she spirals even further down the drain, seemingly intent on bringing you down with her.

I have, admittedly, had a difficult time turning away from the Amanda Bynes drama as of late. Maybe because she was an actress I actually used to really love (I mean, have you seen "She’s the Man"—pretty much a classic!) But also because it is terrifying to imagine mental illness destroying a person with so much potential so completely.

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I don’t watch the news about her because I find it humorous or because I think I’m in on some big national joke against her. I watch it because…it’s hard to look away. Because my heart breaks for her and her family, and I keep waiting for some sort of happy ending.

A happy ending that doesn’t seem to be coming anytime soon.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Amanda Bynes is in the middle of yet another very public meltdown. Most of this has taken place via her twitter account, but she has had a few public instances be heavily documented as well—including her rants to the paparazzi. She was put on a psychiatric hold for the second time earlier last month, but was eventually released when a judge determined she wasn’t a threat to herself or others. Her behavior is clearly erratic and disturbing, but our system isn’t set up to force treatment on erratic and disturbing. There has to be something more.

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding what, exactly, Bynes is suffering from. Most experts seem to think it is some combination of bi-polar and schizophrenia. Given her recent behavior, including a series of tweets in October where she accused her father of molesting her and then took it all back, saying that the microchip in her brain made her say it, the combination of those diagnoses seems to make sense. The onset of illness in her mid-twenties also adds up. It's another terrifying thing to keep in mind, that you could raise a happy and healthy child who just suddenly ceases being themselves in adulthood, long past the point when you might have any kind of control to help.

My heart aches for this loss (her parents) are experiencing, as they approach one more holiday season with their daughter so far out of reach.

But does it really matter what she is suffering from? The only thing that should be blatantly clear to everyone is that something is very wrong with this poor girl.

So why isn’t anyone doing anything to help?

Well, her parents have tried. They have tried desperately, in fact. For over a year, they had a conservatorship over Bynes, giving them the ability to monitor her treatments, how she spent her money, and what she did with her time. Amanda seemed to be doing fairly well during that period, attending school and staying away from social media. But when her conservatorship ended earlier this year, things began to fall apart again.

It isn’t uncommon for people who suffer from either of the above mentioned illnesses to struggle with taking their medications. While these illnesses can be managed and people can still go on to live productive lives after being diagnosed, it’s hard. In Amanda’s case, it seems that she really would benefit from that more constructive care. But apparently it can’t be forced upon her any longer. Her parents are essentially helpless in getting their daughter back on track.

It's a fact made all the more complicated by the ways Amanda has been lashing out against them as of late. Over the weekend, she was allegedly recorded talking about how she would kill her parents. Particularly about how she would like to slit her father’s wrists. She did say she wouldn’t ever actually do it, but her words were pretty difficult to ignore, “I want to, like, literally lead him into a ditch and… I haven’t decided how I’d want to murder him, because now I have this war wound on my face and I don’t believe in murder, but… I look at him as a murderer person. Nothing would give me greater please than, like, slitting his throat. That’s what I would love.”

What do you even do if you’re a parent and your grown, very sick child, is recorded saying something like that about you? How do you respond?

Amanda may say she would never actually do it, but people with severe mental illnesses have certainly been known to act in extreme and violent ways before. How close is she to teetering on that edge?

And as a parent, how do you react when your daughter has reached that point?

I look at my little girl, and I can’t imagine. When I picture her future, there are a few rough spots, sure, but I see her happy and productive, leading a successful life. I can’t even begin to picture her facing a similar fate as Bynes. Or me, trying to save her from a disease that there may be no saving from.

I just…I can’t.

And so, when I think of Amanda Bynes, I think of her parents. My heart aches for this loss they are experiencing, as they approach one more holiday season with their daughter so far out of reach. I’m sad for Bynes as well, of course, but I would guess she has no idea how bad off she is at this point. Her parents though? They know. They know the daughter they raised and the one now living on the streets of LA are not one in the same. And they know they will probably never get that first girl back.

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How do you deal with that as a parent?

And is there ever a point when you just have to accept that there is nothing you can do? Or do you just keep fighting, keep hoping and keep praying? No matter how far gone your child may be?

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