For once, some good news has come out of the Bynes camp and it signals one very important thing: we can officially leave Bynes alone now. TMZ reports that since leaving rehab, Amanda Bynes is doing better, attending school, making friends, and regretting asking Drake to "murder her vagina" on Twitter.
This is wonderful news considering how many headlines have flooded the media in the past year as Bynes very publicly experienced mental problems which have since been diagnosed as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But it's not wonderful news for us to continually chase. We don't need regular check-ups on Bynes. We don't need to know if her classmates like her or if she's getting passing grades in her classes. The former actress has been through hell and now that she's on the other side, our only responsibility is to leave her alone.
After all, part of the reason she had such a terrible time when she was in the thick of her mental breakdown was because we were so obsessed. We salivated at every tweet and twitpic and she responded in more than kind. When her behavior escalated, the media coverage did along with it, and and in turn, it escalated even further. Yes, there was a certain element of supply and demand in coverage, but there was also vicious commentary about how long it would take her to fully reach her demise, something some media critics have called the "death watch" phenomenon. She was callously compared to other celebs like Britney Spears, whose past mental problems have been made into tired and cruel jokes at this point. There were public mockeries, though the internet at least showed it had a soul when actress Ashley Benson's take went too far (and was far too petty).
Still, we were complicit in Bynes' issues. She lived them out in one of the most public ways possible thanks to her social media outlets and she received every response in the spectrum as a result. She begged blogs and celebrity news sites to leave her alone and she was mocked for her misunderstanding of media law — the real issue was that she was clearly in such pain as a result that she was simply screaming out for it to stop somehow.
Yes, a large component of all of this is her diagnosis and lack of treatment — both of which have since been achieved and implemented. But if we are to sit here and believe that our tendency to gawk at Bynes and thus interact with her — even on a seemingly detached web level — had no affect on the final straw that sent her to court, saw her parents take conservatorship of her life, and sadly added more fuel to the fire, we're lying to ourselves.
Faced with someone who became such a figure because of the things she did publicly, we're hard-pressed not to look on. Now that she's well again, it's difficult not to wonder if it will stick — after all, we've been taught to expect the worst relapses in celebrities thanks to others who've come before her. But it really, truly isn't our concern, especially since she's opted for a less public career path in her future.
The first time Bynes was in the spotlight, we put aside our compassion because it was far easier to look at her as something other, something crazy, than someone in need of our sympathy and humanity. We didn't see her as suffering, we saw her as someone who was begging for our attention and we were hell-bent on giving it to her. Now that she's recovered, it's important to exercise restraint. Her camp will occasionally leak updates to show she's alright now — likely the TMZ "source" who said such nice things about Bynes in the latest report. Bynes may even come out with updates on Twitter or in an interview and that point, it will be necessary and only fair that we turn our heads and listen after the way we approached her struggle when she was in the thick of it.
But until she opens herself up, it's important to remember that she's experiencing one of the most delicate and fragile processes known to humankind. Yes, we've seen Lindsey Lohan relapse time and again out of rehab. We've been taught to believe that it's Club Med for celebs and that nothing is truly remedied by being there. But there is one way we can ensure that this callous belief comes true and that's to hound Bynes endlessly, hoping for a slip-up.
Instead, let us leave her alone. Let us not pass judgement on how well she's really doing and whether or not her recovery seems genuine. Let's assume it's all very real and treat it with the respect we never gave her schizophrenia and bipolarity when they first reared their heads. Let us be decent human beings this time and give this poor woman a chance to actually recover from the hell in which we were completely complicit.