Amanda Bynes and her very public conservatorship fight shows the need to rethink mental health

Amanda Bynes.

In a now deleted post, actress Amanda Bynes returned to social media to speak out about the petition to terminate her conservatorship, which was put into place in 2013 after several public incidents.

Her mother Lynn was named as the temporary conservator of Bynes' personal life and finances before being appointed permanently. Bynes had been arrested several times for misdemeanor offenses and her struggles with substance use. At the time the conservatorship was petitioned, Bynes was involuntarily hospitalized after lighting a fire in her neighbor's driveway in July 2013. Bynes confirmed in a 2014 tweet that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after her hospitalization.

Since being placed under a conservatorship, Bynes has stayed mostly out of the public eye. She enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in 2014 following her release from the hospital and subsequent conservatorship. She graduated in 2019 while on a day pass from her inpatient treatment facility at the time. Bynes has reportedly continued to do well since graduating and opened up about her past substance abuse in an interview after graduation.


Bynes' parents are reported to be in agreement that her conservatorship should end, though a judge had ordered the arrangement to be extended until 2023. If that sounds familiar, it's because we've all learned a lot more about celebrity conservatorships after the much popularized end to Britney Spears' conservatorship last year. The length of these conservatorships raises some questions, including at what point do we question the law on how these conservatorships are carried out, and to what length of time.

In both these cases, the legal reach of the conservatorship has been extensive. They lasted years and left the women with little say in controlling their lives. While it seems that Amanda’s parents truly had her best interests at heart and are now fully on board to have her conservatorship terminated, it begs the question as to where the line is drawn when it comes to mental health conservatorships and how extensive or limited they should be. It is not unheard of for someone to be placed under a guardianship for life, especially if the person is intellectually or developmentally delayed and they cannot make appropriate decisions for themselves without extensive help. But in cases where mental health is concerned, it feels different.

In most cases, full autonomy is ideal for people who suffer with mental health conditions, even severe ones like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other disorders that can include psychosis. Having a severe mental health condition does not make someone permanently incapable of caring for themselves or others, particularly if they're able to commit to a regimen of doctor recommended medication and therapy.

Conservatorship is something that is typically used as a last resort for people experiencing severe mental illness. It is oftentimes short-lived until the person is stabilized and set up with some sort of intensive mental health therapy, but it can be difficult to be released from a conservatorship if the person doesn’t have a strong network of support. When conservatorships stretch out to decades, it makes you wonder whether the support being received is adequate, whether the mental health system is failing that person in some way, whether there needs to be a holistic re-evaluation of the law surrounding conservatorships. It also shines a light on the importance of commitment to ongoing treatment and the associated results.

Amanda Bynes feeling well enough to advocate for the termination of her conservatorship is something to celebrate. Mental illness does not have to hold the level of stigma that it does, and people who are experiencing conditions severe enough to result in hospitalization or guardianship still deserve autonomy over their lives and people rooting for their success.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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