On his new album, ye, Kanye West revealed that he has bipolar disorder — a brain disorder characterized by significant changes in mood and energy, from emotional highs to devastating lows.
On the track “Yikes,” Kanye raps:
That’s my bipolar shit, nigga, what?
That’s my superpower, nigga, ain’t no disability
I’m a superhero! I’m a superhero!
This line, in particular, is being called out by some people for glamorizing or mischaracterizing bipolar disorder.
However, West emphasizes that he feels his disorder is his superpower simply because it is part of what allows him to create. The 40-year-old rap legend also hinted that his official diagnosis came recently, saying,
I’ve never been diagnosed and I was like 39 years old.
In the interview, West also touched on the prominence of mental health disorders in America, using language that mental health awareness advocates may have found a powerful friend in the celebrity:
Think about people who have mental issues that are not Kanye West…think about somebody that does exactly what I did at TMZ but they just do it at work. Then Tuesday morning they come back and they lost their job.
Consequently, West isn’t attempting to glamorize or profit from his mental disability, rather use this position, platform, and power to discuss this disability that often goes undiagnosed. This is prominent in his statement above – he is aware that at his social standing, his mood swings don’t affect his career as much as say a common man.
Drew Landry, a comedian and writer and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, has some choice words to share:
I’ve seen some fans on social media who AREN’T bipolar, condemning Kanye’s comments and getting offended that he’s “glamorizing” bipolar disorder. Don’t get offended on my behalf. It’s self-righteous and patronizing. There’s no need to be a keyboard activist on this one. Kanye’s comments about bipolar disorder aren’t toxic or degrading. They’re badass.
I completely agree with him! West is reflective and introspective. He realizes that his platform gives him some leeway in the way of the mood swings, however, a 9-to-5 employee doesn’t have the same benefits. He is neither commercializing nor glamorizing the issue, instead bringing it to light. Moreover, everyone deals with mental illness differently. Some say Kanye should be able to deal with it how he wants.
Personally, I believe that what Kanye has done takes guts! His actions in the past might reinforce his mental disablity, and this is like food to Internet trolls and haters. Yet, he still chose to publicize this side of him. I commend him for that!