Why It's So Hard to Help Amanda Bynes
"Her parents feel helpless," a source tells PEOPLE
On Tuesday, she Tweeted that she has bipolar disorder and claimed to be taking medication and seeing a psychiatrist (though the Tweet has disappeared and reappeared on her account).
Though a probate conservatorship – which allows Bynes’s mother, Lynn, control over the actress’s finances and person – is currently in effect until early next year, the road to getting the former child star healthy again continues to be tortuous and unpredictable.
“Her parents feel helpless,” says a source who’s known the star, 28, for years. “They’re really trying to help her.”
Although her family is trying desperately to prevent another frightening incident – such as when Bynes set fire to a driveway in 2013 – that may be what it takes to force her back into treatment, experts tell PEOPLE.
“As long as she’s not an immediate danger to herself or others, there’s nothing much that anyone can do,” says Dr. Jay Carter, a psychologist who’s written more than 20 books on mental health. “That’s the biggest anxiety for parents.”
Indeed, Bynes was released from the psychiatric facility following a mandatory hearing that occurred three days after a judge ruled she needed to spend at least another month in treatment.
But her release doesn’t mean her mental illness is in check. Says family coach Julie A. Fast, who’s written several books on mental health, including Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: “Somebody with psychosis can be raging, screaming and threatening to kill you, but in front of an authority figure they can completely calm down.”
Family’s Legal Options
According to Terry Wasserman, a Los Angeles lawyer who specializes in mental health, “the only way to really protect Amanda would be if a designated clinician writes a new 5150 three-day psychiatric hold” that forces the star back into a hospital or facility.
Lynn Bynes’s probate conservatorship has “no psychiatric powers” over her daughter, and while she “may have been given the authority to determine what is in the best interest of Amanda, it wouldn’t be a mandate requiring her to live with the mother,” says Wasserman. Bynes has Tweeted that her parents cut off her access to funds, but she appears to be relying on friends for money and has stayed with friends and at a hotel.
After being released from treatment, the former child star also returned to Twitter, lobbing insults at her family’s lawyer and slamming her father, whom she continues to accuse of sexual abuse. (Lynn and Rick Bynes’s lawyer has vehemently refuted the accusations).
Behavior Consistent with Psychosis
Bynes’s social media rants are “typical” of psychosis, Fast explains: “A lot of people who are psychotic have huge conspiracy theories. They’re worried about what people are thinking, and the thoughts are coming so fast that you have to have an outlet for them.”
Usually, those who suffer from psychotic disorders “pick the whipping boy and it’s usually the one who’s trying to get control and help,” Fast adds. “You’ll go after the person who’s trying to get help, but it’s only because you’re sick.”
Often, patients feel remorse after lashing out, which may explain Bynes’s constant deletion and retraction of her Tweets, says Carter. “Later on, they start seeing the bigger picture and what they’ve done they don’t feel like they’re the captain of their soul.”
Says a source close to Bynes’s parents: “Amanda’s parents love her and are truly worried about her.”
• With reporting by K.C. BAKER and ELIZABETH LEONARD