Bynes in saner times. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

Bynes in saner times. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

I long ago had to turn off my feelings about Lindsay Lohan, because otherwise I’d sink into massive depression. But I haven’t yet achieved such levels of numbness about Amanda Bynes, and so I’m profoundly sad right now.

If you haven’t been following the former tween/teen star’s exploits, well, God bless you. Please don’t start now. Trust me on this. But I will give you a brief recap: Bynes was a standout on the Nickelodeon sketch show All That, then got her own show on the network. From there, she starred in a series of deliciously sweet, funny, clever, and benign romantic comedies, including She’s the Man (in which she played a girl pretending to be a guy to be on the soccer team and also made out with Channing Tatum) and What a Girl Wants (which had something to do with London and Colin Firth as her dad). She also starred on the underrated, if not exactly groundbreaking, WB sitcom What I Like About You with Jennie Garth. And she was truly brilliant as a Christian bitch in Easy A.

Yes, she looked like she was embarking on one of those careers where interviewers would end up asking her, for all eternity, “How did you manage to turn out so well, when so many other former child stars lose their shit?”

But now she’s totally lost her shit, and because she’s doing it mostly online, every move is documented and amplified. She’s posted rambling and general scary-crazy-acting footage of herself, topless photos of herself, and other disturbing images. She’s shaved half her head and Tweeted all kinds of obscene thoughts. She’s gotten piercings in both her cheeks and told gossip mag InTouch“I have no clue (why people say I’m insane). Every time I’ve heard it, it came from an ugly person’s mouth, so I don’t care.” This culminated (alas, probably not for the last time) with her former publicist Tweeting at the NYPD last night, begging cops to find her house and help her — he’d just spoken to her and was worried about her mental state.

Having written a lot about current Disney and Nickelodeon stars, as well as the original Mouseketeers, I have a soft spot for the intense struggles involved with overcoming child stardom. I know this is nearly impossible when it comes to a famous person doing crazy stuff publicly, but I wish we could all stop paying so much attention to Bynes’ antics while those close to her get her whatever help she needs. She’s obviously doing this stuff because she craves the attention and knows she’ll get it. But she needs less attention and more real help.