Amanda Bynes: “What a Girl Really Needs” is a Conservatorship

Amanda Bynes has had a great career on the screen as star of her own TV show and movies.  One of her very cute movies was “What a Girl Wants”.  It kind of gave us the inspiration for this article.  This past year she’s been in the news as the tabloids chronicle her “strange” behavior.   As caregivers, we have anxiously watched the slow train wreck that has been the Amanda Bynes’ reality show.   We can see in her the same issues we’ve seen in our own lives with family members and we know that things get worse and worse before they get better.  We feel for her and her family as she goes through these issues.

One thing we found out the hard way for one very angry, hammer wielding, family member was that her actions were getting worse and worse and that she was a danger to herself and others, was that we could get a conservatorship.  This is not an easy thing to do.  After several 5150s and “72 hour holds” in which you are hospitalized, presumably until the situation becomes “safer”, and then quickly released we just had to find a solution for her health and it seemed that the clock was ticking.  The issue is that psychotic episodes, and the underlying conditions that might cause these “breaks”  don’t always conform to the law.   Oh,  it’s 71 hours…still under stress…oh, but there’s 72 hours.  All better!  It’s just not how it works.  The laws and support systems aren’t always there.

Sometimes you have to watch in horror as your loved one gets in more and more peril.  It’s a helpless feeling.  To add insult to injury, some people are released from these  “holds”  and you, as a family member,  might not even know.  You take them back while they try to get out of a moving car.  For those that don’t know, a 5150 is an involuntary hold for a person when they are deemed to be a harm to themselves or others.  It is a real option you need to use with the cooperation of police and hospitals if someone exhibits these behaviors.  Sometimes the system may not seem to be there to help you.  Fortunately things are getting better.   Thankfully,  in our situation,  we were working with a new psychiatrist who was closely monitoring not only medications, but also slight behavior issues,  interaction with others,  nutrition, alcohol consumption.  This was the first psychiatrist we were able to find who truly was on our team.

We don’t know Amanda Bynes or her family.   But we feel for them.   The alleged incident of setting a fire in the driveway of her mother’s neighborhood brought back many memories for us.


One of our loved ones set a small fire in a boarding room in which she was staying shortly after being released from a hospital stay.     In our case, our psychiatrist suggested that it was time for the conservatorship.   The fact is that when you’re dealing with an adult, even if you’ve been helping them for years,  and even if they are not in their right mind, and you know it…you can’t make any decisions for them without the conservatorship.   This is so critical for proper help.  To sit in with your loved one and the psychiatrist or medical staff and FORCE the background examination and to the best you can the entire medical and psych histories and medicines which have been tried.  Which ones caused even more problems.  Which ones caused too much sleep or irritation.  You won’t always know the answers, but a successful conservatorship at a young age can halt a lifetime of heartbreak.

Our story had a great ending in that we were able to get a conservatorship for our loved one.  She hated us for it at the time but it saved her life and our sanity.  She was put into a full-time care facility and over a few months turned back into the wonderful, sweet woman she was before.  In addition she also came to know that she would need to take care of herself in order to remain happy and was dedicated to making sure she listened to her doctor’s orders.

It is difficult to see how far people need to go before action is taken to help them such as Amanda’s case.  Not only are they unsafe for themselves and others, but waiting that long to be able to take drastic actions can result in needing much longer recovery times and/or death.  In Amanda’s case there have been many high-profile events that people unfortunately make fun of in the press.  Believe us when we say we know that there are many more things going on behind the scenes such as extreme paranoia and many other issues that are a constant companion in their minds that we don’t understand.  TV’s, smoke detectors and other inanimate objects seem to come alive for many in these positions.  There is help.

People also want to blame it as a drug spree or other things without understanding that many with mental health issues turn to drugs or alcohol to try to self-medicate.  Add in the fact that Amanda potentially has access to a lot of money which makes everything even more difficult.  As one of our past guests said, the money and people surrounding the celebrities just makes their fall from grace even longer than the average citizen.   This is not unlike what Britney Spears and other young stars have gone through.  Britney’s story seems to have worked out pretty well for her and her parents.  Lindsey Lohan’s required rehab stay may also help her in the long run and only time will tell.

It is a shame that some of Amanda’s contemporaries immediately took to social media and blamed her for “just wanting attention”,  and “acting crazy” and other descriptors.   It’s a sad state when people think that an illness and its actions are done for “PR” reasons.   But, as far as we’ve come,  stigma still exists and social media, for all of its strengths, creates its own issues.   But that’s another story for another day.

We hope that the end of the story works out for Amanda and her family as well as ours did for our loved one.    If you’re dealing with an issue right now with a relative and you are frustrated, please know that there is hope and help, but you have to go and get it and stay on it.    It’s not necessarily an easy journey, but love and faith are pretty strong partners in helping someone through recovery.

Here are some resources you can refer to for more information:

For family members and Caregivers, go to our “Resources” tab on this site and click on “Caregiver Corner” for additional information.

The “Resource” tabs above also include information on different mental health conditions

For family members, go to to find resources and support groups as well as their family to family classes.




3 Responses to “Amanda Bynes: “What a Girl Really Needs” is a Conservatorship”

  1. Janelle
    October 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    shes in rehab now so is she mental or addicted??????????

    • wendy
      October 12, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

      We haven’t heard anything official, but it could be a combination. Thanks for reading!

  2. Janelle
    October 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    whoops posted two times wasnt sure!

Leave a Reply