The Stigma Around Kanye — MARIST CIRCLE
Kanye West doesn’t need any help making headlines. Amid his public divorce and Instagram rampages, West’s mental health has become part of a public debate often mishandled by the media. When is it appropriate to blame bipolar disorder for its behavior, and when is mental illness no longer an excuse?
According to National Alliance on Mental Illness, bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings, specifically inducing repeated episodes of depression and mania. West, who recently simplified his name to “Ye,” has exhibited manic and depressive behaviors since the start of his career, making controversial and concerning comments, tweets, messages and music that have kept his name in the spotlight. mainstream media headlines. However, his mental health declined significantly following the death of his beloved mother Donda West in 2007 and again in 2016 when hospitalized during the Saint Pablo Tour. West also received his bipolar diagnosis in 2016.
After witnessing these bouts of mania and depression, society made West the subject of several jokes, with his bipolar disorder as the punchline. From the memes about his stoic behavior to the infamous “nobody loves Kanye like Kanye loves Kanye,” there are underlying slights to the symptoms of bipolar disorder West is most likely experiencing, including emotional breakdowns, self-confidence exaggerated and delusions of grandeur. By joking about some of West’s actions that may be closely associated with his mental illness, we perpetuate the stigma around mental health by ignoring the very real symptoms and emotions he experiences.
“What I mean about the bipolar thing is because it has the word ‘bi’ in it, it has the idea of, like, a split personality,” West said in an interview with David Letterman in 2019. “You can become almost more adolescent in your expression or borderline in places. That’s my specific experience that I’ve had,” he explained.
The rapper’s latest controversy concerns his recent divorce from social media mogul Kim Kardashian. Kardashian filed for divorce from West in February 2021, seeking joint custody of their four children. The two remained cordial throughout the process, with Kardashian even donning her wedding dress to recreate her wedding to West at her “Donda” album listening event last summer.
However, once Kardashian began dating Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson — who West was previously friends with — in October 2021, West began harassing the pair on social media via Instagram posts and Stories. Kardashian held back from engaging with West until he publicly questioned his parentage of their daughter North, asking in an Instagram post how to handle his eight-year-old TikTok post. He received major backlash, but that backlash has since been replaced by fascination with his seemingly manic affectation.
Prior to their divorce, Kardashian often came to West’s defense to promote understanding of her husband’s mental illness. “As many of you know, Kanye has bipolar disorder. Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand,” he said. she stated in an Instagram Story from 2020.
“He is a brilliant but complicated person on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who has experienced the painful loss of his mother, and must deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bipolar disorder,” she said. added in a second story.
Over the past few months, West has continued to write social media tirades, posting to his Instagram feed several times a day in all-caps about Kardashian and Davidson, and calling out other artists such as Kid Cudi and Billie Eilish. On March 2, he released the music video for his song “Eazy”, which depicts him abducting and burying Davidson.
When a commentator said West was “off meds”, he responded with “REJECTING SAYING I CAN’T MY MEDIC EVERY TIME I TALK.” Although medication can be a positive experience for some, it’s still a personal decision that doesn’t work for everyone. It is unfair to West and anyone with mental health issues to suggest that drugs could obviously correct irrational behavior, when that is not the case. how medications for mental health work, and the two are not always linked. It’s also offensive and potentially triggering to say someone is “off their meds” when you don’t know what they’re going through, in addition to increasing public associations between words like “crazy” and the concept of mental illness.
“When I saw Kanye leave in the past, I just thought it was part of the show,” Coodie recounted in the third installment of “jeen-yuhs: A Kanye Trilogy,” a recent documentary about West’s life by the directors. Coodie and Cike. After West was hospitalized for a psychiatric emergency in 2016, many of the rapper’s friends realized he was suffering from serious mental health issues.
Most social media belittled West’s situation, finding humor in his frantic outbursts about his friends and family. However, mental illness does not grant an individual the right to abuse loved ones, especially on a public platform. While West’s actions could be fueled by a manic episode, he still needs to be held accountable for his behavior to help him and his family heal later. West is privileged to have the resources to receive help, but the stigma surrounding his mental illness and controversial personality has placed him at a severe disadvantage.
The media’s mocking attitude toward West and his behavior sets a dangerous precedent that celebrities are entertainment before people, that their mental health issues can give us humor. Kanye is not free from guilt in many of his actions, but he deserves human dignity not to be laughed at. He also has no management to stop his use of social media, which has damaged valuable relationships. His loved ones should intervene, not only for his own well-being, but for his children who must reckon with the actions of their father and the inaction of the world.