Yesterday, while the world was a flutter reacting to Miley Cyrus’s shocking VMA performance, my “Uh-oh” alarm was Uh-oh-ing, ALL DAY LONG! Instead of being angry or shocked, I was concerned that, like she sings in her latest song, she WON’T STOP, because she CAN’T STOP.
Is Miley Cyrus mentally ill?
If, and that’s a big IF, (because I am not Miley’s therapist, so obviously I have not evaluated her and cannot diagnose her) she is suffering from mental illness of some sort, such as a mood disorder, her allegedly escalating drug use and insane work schedule would certainly exacerbate it. Maybe it’s just her alleged drug use that’s to blame for the off the chain behavior she’s been demonstrating for the past year (or more). Because honestly, I must confess that as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, trained to evaluate and diagnose mental illness, especially in this age group, I just can’t help but wonder what the fuck is really going on with this kid? And yeah, I know she's legally an adult, but she's only 20 years old for cripe's sake, a minute past getting the training wheels off her bike if you ask me.
For some time now, her behavior has given me the Uh-ohs, but more recently, her hyper-sexuality, lack of impulse control and boundaries, rapid mood swings, admitted drug use, compulsive tweeting and spending, extreme displays of irritability and argumentative behavior, difficulty sleeping, and hoarding of animals, all documented on Twitter by Miley herself for her over 13 million followers, are not just typical adolescent behaviors.
Not even for rich and famous entertainers!
They behaviors are, in fact, symptoms of that someone with a mood and/or personality disorder would display. They are also behaviors seen in people who are chronic drug abusers or people under the influence of mood altering substances. Miley's behavior is not normal, and don’t tell me that normal doesn’t exist, because what I’m talking about here is the normal curve, a RANGE of normal that is healthy and safe, and Miley’s behavior is well outside the curve. Am I saying that Miley is mentally ill or a substance abuser?
Nope. I am NOT saying that.
How would I know?
I am not diagnosing the former Destiny Hope, or saying that she has a mood or personality disorder. I am also not saying that she is a chronic drug abuser. I am simply observing her behavior and listening to her frequent and very public declarations about her voracious appetites for sex, drugs and rock and roll, and wondering, ALOUD, if Miley’s much talked about performance at the VMA’s was just another symptom of something even more unsettling. If it were an isolated incident, if she hadn't been demonstrating erratic behavior for a while now, I wouldn't be asking this question. But because she has, I'm wondering. I'm asking. I hope it's not her destiny to crash and burn.
Pun intended. But I don't think what I'm seeing is funny. Quite the opposite in fact!
Is she ill? Does she need help? And if so, is anyone trying to help? Am I the only one wondering about this?
Maybe she is just a really, really, really, REALLY good actress (Remember Joaquin Phoenix?)!
Miley herself proudly admitted, on camera, at her birthday party, “You know you're a stoner when your friends make you a Bob Marley cake. You know you smoke way too much fuckin weed.”
Her reps said she was just being a “smart ass," that it was an “inside joke.” I thought an inside joke was a joke kept quiet, something between a small group of people, something private. Oh, so that’s why Miley didn’t tweet the video to her 13 million followers, she allowed it to be posted on a friend's social media site for a measly couple hundred thousand people to see. You know, because it's an inside joke. Glad they cleared that up. For a minute I was worried. Now I can just worry about all the other red flags popping up all over and Miley's specific references to her love of drugs and emotional struggles on Twitter that are making my Uh-oh alarm work overtime.
I’m often asked if I find myself assessing and diagnosing everyone I meet. The answer to that question is also no. But I do find myself slipping into the psychotherapist mode when someone, or something gives me the “Uh-oh” feeling, the quiver in my gut telling me something isn’t right. For sometime now, Miley has been giving me the “Uh-oh” feeling.
People with mood and personality disorders are inherently drawn to the entertainment industry, because the arts are a way to channel and express creativity in a way that other industries do not allow. Outlandish and histrionic behavior is expected and even encouraged. Not so the case in outside of the land of make believe and entertainment. For example, the Bipolar drama teacher at the local high school in Every-ville, Illinois, can’t very well expect the kids in theatre to perform a play he or she wrote about an epic battle between lesbian angels from Mars who smoke crack and their tea-party, devil counterparts who do medical experiments on baby kittens, right?
But I’ll bet he or she could easily find someone in Hollywood who would be all over it, scrambling to find a producer, director, cast, etc. After all people, the movie, Battlefield Earth, cost $73 million dollars to make, and a good deal of that cash was ponied up by a major movie studio for fuck’s sake! (And by the way, I'd totally fork out the price of a movie ticket to see a flick about lesbian, crack smoking angels battling tea-party demons. Just saying.)
Anything goes in the land of make believe, baby! This is where the stuff that dreams are made of, are actually brought to life! It’s terrific and terrifying, all at once. But they don't call it the boulevard of broken dreams for nothing. Anyone in the entertainment business will tell you that it’s not uncommon for writers and musicians and actors to stay up all night brainstorming and creating, unleashing streams of consciousness and exhilarating, that it’s not uncommon for “creative personalities” to use drugs and alcohol to self medicate undiagnosed mental disorders such as Anxiety, ADHD, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, etc.
Am I suggesting that everyone in the entertainment industry suffering from a mental disorder? PLEASE. I shouldn’t have to dignify that question with a response, but the unfortunate dumb-shittery of certain dumb-shit requires that I do. So NO, I am not saying that everyone in the entertainment industry has a mental disorder. But I know some of them do, and speak openly and honestly about how difficult it can be to manage a mental illness or substance abuse problem in such a whacked out, enabling environment.
What I am suggesting is that mental illness is often overlooked in cases where a celebrity, professional athlete, or incredibly powerful and successful person is involved. Intervention often occurs long after the person in question has become ill, seriously injured or has caused either grave injury to another individual. I’m sure I don’t need to list examples of this, so I won’t. You have likely grieved the loss of a favorite musician or celebrity.
What I am also suggesting is that when a celebrity of any kind goes off the rails, or demonstrates any sort of behavior that might indicate they are unstable in any way, the people who work with and for that celebrity have a responsibility to ask themselves whether the person is indeed suffering from a mental (or physical) illness or a substance abuse problem, and then try to help them if they are.
I am well aware that Miley is young and still finding her way in the world, and that it’s not uncommon for people her age do crazy and impulsive things, to say and do stupid and irresponsible things.
I am well aware that she is an entertainer, and that in the entertainment industry, anything can and does go.
But how far is too far? How much is too much? Ms. Miley's off the chain behavior is outside the curve if you ask me.
Again, I am merely just wondering aloud, and extremely worried that I’m the only person who is afraid that this, by all accounts, creative, beautiful, kind, smart, sensitive and insanely talented young woman just beginning to live her life, is going to be another casualty, another cautionary tale.
Is Miley Cyrus suffering from mental illness or a substance abuse problem? I don’t know. But I can’t help but wonder…..
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