It has now been over four years since Amanda Bynes’ retreat from acting which led into a very public breakdown that included arrests and bizarre online behavior and for the first time ever, she is talking about what happened and getting through it all.
For Paper Magazine‘s third “Break the Internet” special issue, Bynes was picked as the cover star and got very candid about her public downward spiral and what is next.
While the actress struggled with the pressures of Hollywood at a young age, she pointed to the release of 2006’s She’s The Man as one of the catalysts for her change in mental health. When the movie came out and I saw it, I went into a deep depression for 4-6 months because I didn’t like how I looked when I was a boy. I’ve never told anyone that,” she says, pausing for a moment. Bynes explains that seeing herself with short hair and sideburns was “a super strange and out-of-body experience,” adding, “It just really put me into a funk.”
As a result, the actress who is now 32 become fixated on her appearance, and it was while filming 2007’s Hairspray she heard about Adderall which was being called the “new skinny pill.”
“They were talking about how women were taking it to stay thin. I was like, ‘Well, I have to get my hands on that.'” So, Bynes says she visited a psychiatrist and faked the symptoms of ADD in order to get a prescription. Bynes says she now completely regrets taking the pills especially as it began to effect her career, “When I was doing Hall Pass, I remember being in the trailer and I used to chew the Adderall tablets because I thought they made me [higher that way]. I remember chewing on a bunch of them and literally being scatterbrained and not being able to focus on my lines,” she confessed. “Or memorize them, for that matter.”
The actress continued that she was “tripping out” when she caught a reflection of herself and thought her arm “looked so fat,” so she left the set and never returned. “It was definitely completely unprofessional of me to walk off and leave them stranded when they’d spent so much money on a set and crew and camera equipment and everything.”
Things only got worse after she saw herself in Easy A. “I literally couldn’t stand my appearance in that movie and I didn’t like my performance. I was absolutely convinced I needed to stop acting after seeing it. I was high on marijuana when I saw that but for some reason it really started to affect me,” says Bynes, who began smoking weed at age 16. “I don’t know if it was a drug-induced psychosis or what, but it affected my brain in a different way than it affects other people. It absolutely changed my perception of things.” And so, Bynes announced her retirement on Twitter at age 24. “If I was going to retire [the right way], I should’ve done it in a press statement—but I did it on Twitter,” she says. “Real classy!” Admitting she was “high” and made a “foolish” mistake, Bynes adds, “I was young and stupid.”
Following her retirement, Bynes admits she began hanging out with the wrong people and isolating herself from loved ones while also experimenting with drugs and becoming dependent on them. “I got really into my drug usage,” she said, “and it became a really dark, sad world for me.”
“My advice to anyone who is struggling with substance abuse would be to be really careful because drugs can really take a hold of your life. Everybody is different, obviously, but for me, the mixture of marijuana and whatever other drugs and sometimes drinking really messed up my brain. It really made me a completely different person. I actually am a nice person. I would never feel, say or do any of the things that I did and said to the people I hurt on Twitter. There are gateway drugs—and thankfully I never did heroin or meth or anything like that—but certain things that you think are harmless, they may actually affect you in a more harmful way,” Bynes warned. “Be really, really careful because you could lose it all and ruin your entire life like I did.”
Amanda Bynes full interview can be seen in PAPER’s newest issue.Danielle Levitt/PAPER