Why Bipolar disorder is complicated?

Bipolar disorder is complicated. So is how we talk about Kanye West (Ye).

Kanye West is going through a rough patch right now. Shouldn't we be a little more cautious?


"'Crazy' is a word that will not be thrown around lightly in the future." Understand that this is a condition that people can end up in, be born into, be pushed into, and come out of."


Kanye West said this in a Forbes interview two years ago, and people are still calling him crazy and everything in between — unhinged, insane, and psychotic. These are the terms I've heard used to describe him in recent weeks. When news of his legal separation from Kim Kardashian began to circulate, I braced myself each day for social media reactions to the growing chasm between them. I knew it was only a matter of time before the words used to label him started to sting me as well.


The rap star, producer, and all-around auteur, now known as Ye, has never been one to conform to cultural norms. However, his recent actions have elicited harsh criticism from both his supporters and detractors. Ye has been attempting to reintegrate the mother of his four children into his life through sporadic and profuse online postings and showy in-person efforts, including a pickup truck full of roses sent on Valentine's Day.


While it is a divorce between two of the most well-known American celebrities of the last few decades, it is still just that: a divorce. Kardashian and West are used to being in the spotlight, but this very private matter is being played out in an unusually public and public manner. The lack of privacy is especially concerning given that Ye revealed in 2018 that he suffers from bipolar disorder. It's a diagnosis I'm familiar with.


'I've had a snide attitude toward bipolar disorder. For the majority of my life, I, like many others, casually invoked the condition to disparage someone who is being rude or having a bad day, or to criticise something that is malfunctioning or broken. After years of ignorance, I realised how incorrect this characterization is.


Bipolar disorder is characterised by two opposing ends of the mood spectrum: mania and depression. Mania is an unstable mental state that has tell-tale symptoms such as "grandiosity, over-optimism, or impaired judgement," according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); it can also include hallucinations or delusions. Depression, on the other hand, is defined as "a persistently low mood with a decrease in energy and activity." While it is possible to switch between mania and depression in a short period of time — a condition known as rapid cycling — people with bipolar disorder can stay in those states for months or years at a time.


At the age of 27, I had my first manic episode and was diagnosed with bipolar type 1 the following year during another episode. Type 1 bipolar disorder is distinguished by extreme mania and extreme depression.




West's fans have been divided, to put it mildly, since he revealed his general diagnosis in his 2018 album ye. Depending on Ye's antics, I've gone back and forth between admiration and disapproval. At the moment, I'm sympathetic to his predicament. I'm all too familiar with the peaks and valleys of this disorder.


In February, I tweeted a thread about the various similarities I share with the artist, as well as why I hold emotional space for him. I received help from people who have bipolar disorder as well as those who have no first- or second-hand experience with the disorder. I also received criticism from people who believe Kanye does not deserve compassion because he is allegedly refusing medication treatment. I've been on an antipsychotic and a mood stabiliser for the past two years, but I understand Ye's point of view.


Prior to my fourth and most recent manic episode in October 2019, I used medication sparingly. While I couldn't afford it in some cases, I willingly sacrificed my stability in others for the chance to experience the euphoric highs of mania. It has the potential to be more addictive than any other drug; in fact, resuming a manic (or depressive) episode after a period of wellness is referred to as a relapse.


Ye's spiritual experience with bipolar disorder — he claims to feel deified — is one I'm familiar with. In my early stages of manic depression, I feel unstoppable: like the main character, swept up by the universe and lovingly carried through each intense second of my life. I have a tendency to become deeply invested in religion and spirituality when the state is at its peak. I feel like I'm a member of God's team, a Chosen One sent here to save the world from itself. It's enthralling.


Music can become a focal point of the experience; I have the impression that God is speaking to me through the bars of my favourite rappers. The lyrics feel like instructions, pointing me in the direction of my next cosmic adventure. Kanye stated in a cover storey for The Fader in 2008 that he feels like a conduit for creativity sent from above. "I'm a vessel, and God has chosen me to be the voice and connector," he explained. "I can't be held accountable. I'm competent, but not exceptional. So my job is simply to be in the studio and shoot videos, and I stand back and let God do the rest."


Ye has yet to reveal whether or not he is experiencing a manic episode. My own experience with the condition leads me to believe that his recent impulsive social media posts are due to that aspect of bipolar disorder.


When I soar uncontrollably high, I bless and curse people in the same breath. I obsess over the people I care about while also expressing hostility toward them. This kind of built-in duality may also cause Kanye to vacillate between the secular and the sacred.




I've done my fair share of "apology tours," in which I ask forgiveness of people I've unnecessarily verbally attacked or otherwise hurt during moments of euphoria. The majority of them recognize that I was going through something I couldn't control. Making amends for ill-advised actions is a lot of weight to bear, and it comes with a lot of pressure on top of the recovery process. But I'll always do everything in my power to make sure the people in my life understand that I'm not the person I am when I'm maniac.


Over the years, I've learned that not everyone accepted my apology, and I've learned to accept that. It took some time, but I've finally moved on from each failed relationship. I've lost contact with several loved ones as a result of this condition, but one person whose comfort I'll never have is my mother.


Kanye West's latest album, DONDA 2, is the second album he has named after his mother, Donda West, who died in 2007 as a result of heart disease and complications from cosmetic surgery. My mother died two years later of a heart attack. In my case, I self-medicated and avoided grief for years by immersing myself in academia. Kanye West, for example, continued touring and creating just weeks after his mother died.


Our parents were both the epitome of encouraging. DondaWest shows off her nurturing approach to Ye in the first part of the recently released Netflix documentary Jeen-Yuhs by rapping one of his first rhymes from memory and amplifying his voice and talent in front of the camera crew. My mother encouraged me to pursue my interests, whether it was Taekwondo or marching band. At competitive events, she would yell at the top of her lungs, "Take it to da house!" which both embarrassed me and filled me with immense pride.


Losing your primary source of inspiration can feel insurmountable; the true mourning process can take years to fully manifest. Even now, I feel as if my mother is with me during my most difficult times, especially during manic episodes. Kanye's emphasis on keeping Donda's name alive seems to imply that he feels similarly.


There have been celebrities who have lived with bipolar disorder before Ye; the late actress Carrie Fisher, who spoke at length about the need to destigmatize mental illness during her life, is just one of many public figures who have faced the challenging nature of bipolarity.


While it is important to acknowledge his forefathers in this regard, we have yet to see someone as prominent as Kanye use social media during a manic episode. He has been extremely active online since the early days of his innovative website Kanye Universe City, which he used as a blog in the aughts.


Since 2016, he has increased the frequency of his Twitter and Instagram "rants," which many have attributed to his charismatic personality. I've had similar moments where I've gone on the internet and railed against anyone and everyone who has ever wronged me, as well as people who haven't. I've also posted things that were completely illogical. The difference between me and Ye is that the vast majority of people who have witnessed me in the grip of mania or depression have shown me grace and understanding. I also don't have the entire world staring at me — friends, family, and strangers — when I'm in one of the most vulnerable positions a human could ever be in.


So it gives me pause when I hear people discuss Kanye in intentionally disparaging tones and language. It makes me wonder, aside from the millions of dollars and numerous Grammy Awards, what distinguishes us. It makes me wonder if the help I've received has been genuine.


My goal is not to be the person who always defends Ye. I don't always agree with his actions, so I can't commit to that role. What I'm here to do is make sure that no one with this condition, including one of the world's most famous people, feels alone.

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