Today I was trolling the internet and I saw a picture of you from the “I’m totally insane” period of your life. You were sitting at a nail salon, or maybe a restaurant, with a baby (I think it was one of your kids but let’s be real — it’s a toss up — we all remember what you were like back then) on your lap. You were looking directly at the camera and crying. Normally, when I come across a photo of a celeb in distress, I do the following: screech inwardly with excitement, then save it on my desktop. Down the line, I might eventually email it to someone I know with the subject line “LOL,” or “This Asshole…” However, today’s reaction was different. I felt no joy at your expense. I actually felt sad. Did you hear that Brit? This picture of you made me sad. So sad, in fact, that I teared up and now I feel the need to apologize to you.
I was a fan, rather than a fanatic growing up. I’ll clarify: I was aware of your hit songs, and may have choreographed a dance to “(You Drive Me) Crazy” during a slumber party in middle school, but I didn’t own any of your albums, and I hadn’t been to any of your concerts or watched all of your music videos. I didn’t personally identify with you, I just knew that you were pretty, and you made fun music that I liked to dance to sometimes.
When you brought the ruckus by getting married in Vegas to that Jason Alexander guy, I was intrigued. By the time you’d met K-Fed and did Britney & Kevin: Chaotic, I was hooked on you and your cray cray behavior. If I could sing you a ballad that reflects how I felt about your activities from 2006-2009, I would. You drove with one kid on your lap, almost dropped another kid, got divorced, shaved your head, beat up a car with an umbrella while making the scariest face ever, wore a pink wig, had a British alter-ego, dated a paparazzo, let your dog poop all over couture at photo shoots, and there were ambulances coming and going from your mansion like it was ER and George Clooney was scrubbing up in the back getting ready to operate. I was obsessed with you, but I also hated you. You got so much attention for being a psycho that it infuriated me. I didn’t really care about your well-being, I just wanted you to go away. Not die, necessarily, I just wanted you to disappear.
That was the anti-Britney version of me, but I’ve obviously matured since then. Mental illness is really no joke, and the pro-Britney version of me is happy you’ve recovered from that mess. I bought Femme Fatale and LOVED IT GURL. I also went to your show at the Staples Center during the Femme Fatale tour and had a really good time once I was upgraded to seats in the non-nosebleed section.
When I experienced that blast from your past called “I’m insaneeeeee, help meeeeee” this afternoon, that picture wasn’t telling the story of a pop star acting crazy for attention. Instead it was showing me a 20-something person who was really overwhelmed and clearly having a nervous breakdown. And today I realized: I’ve been there. Now I haven’t had kids, and don’t plan on having them anytime soon because I have yet to meet someone who I’d want to wreck my body/vagina/mind for, so I don’t know what you were going through when it comes to the postpartum depression stuff. But I do know what it’s like to be spinning out of control. I went through my own mental phase as a teenager, and it sucked. The main difference is that you were wiling out and the world was watching. Hell, they were documenting your every move! Looking back, I think my obsessive hating on you was just poorly disguised jealousy. I guess I just thought you were lucky to get so much attention. I suffered privately. Whenever someone was taking pictures, I was trying to pull my shit together and appear happy and normal, despite what was going on inside my brain.
The only picture I even have of the psycho period of my life is one that was taken right before I went to prom my sophomore year that I use as modern day thinspo because I was anorexic back then. There are no photos of me looking cracked out with my family at Olive Garden, or stoned and crying at school because some jerkoff called me a slut. Nobody was following me around capturing the heartbreaking moments when I was having a meltdown, so why were you so damn special?
I digress. The point is, Britney Lynne Spears, that I saw that pic of you today and I wished I had been more empathetic to what you were going through instead of laughing and pointing like the rest of the world. Pretty much everyone I know has gone NUTS at one point in their lives. It happens. Even to celebs like you. At the end of the day, I’m grateful to not have to look back on photos of myself resisting arrest for possession of a controlled substance, or getting in a drunk driving car accident. There’s no photographic diary of the painful few years I spent spinning out of control, and there certainly weren’t people following me around trying to capture me doing stupid stuff on film. So I suppose in that respect, I’m lucky. And you’re lucky too. And we should probably be friends now.