Kanye West. He is the most controversial, yet one of the most influential artists of our time. Undoubtedly, he has an opinion about everything, and inevitably, everyone has an opinion about him. We’ve all seen him at the highest of highs, and recently the lowest of lows. But that’s where the ideology of a celebrity fades. That’s what makes him human. In his demise, we’ve watched his struggle to maintain without his mother and his brotherhood diminish with Jay-Z. Yet his music has never wavered, which is the beauty of anyone living with a mental illness; such creative nuances and brilliance are a result of an unfortunate reality. But Kanye loving himself, like only he can, found a way to make it okay to talk about mental health.
i hate being bipolar it's awesome
The artwork from his last project Ye says: “I hate being bi-polar it’s awesome.” In so many words, Kanye normalises bipolar disorder by owning it and reversing the stigma. Society has placed a negative stigma on mental illness, and have caused many to believe that people that are mentally ill are unstable, dumb and “slow.” Although he isn’t the first celebrity to speak out about mental health or admit that they have it, his bravery doesn't go unnoticed.
At the beginning of Yikes, he says, “Sh*t could get menacin’, frightenin’ find help, sometimes I scare myself.” Those familiar with having mental health issues know that mania is just as dangerous as depression. There is a rapid change in your mood when you are manic; you don’t think logically, you go off of impulse; which is essentially what he addresses in each verse. Depending on what mental health issues one has, they could potentially hear voices, hallucinate, blackout, and when they become stable again, they may or may not remember anything that happened.
Wouldn’t Leave showcases Kanye’s vulnerability, as it pours out throughout the song's entirety. It stems from his TMZ rant about slavery being a choice and explains how Kim was furious and scared to lose it all after his thoughtless stunt. This is clearly a manic episode. Mania is your birthday, graduation day, and wedding day all in one. That’s what makes it so dangerous, who can get higher than that? The thing that makes Kanye so endearing after a statement such as that is his fear of abandonment. Thinking of the loss of his mum ten years prior, and now possibly his wife, he says: Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn’t leave.”
"I’m a superhero” may be one of his best lines yet. At the end of Yikes, Kanye makes it clear that in no way is he to be pitied. He also states: “Ain't no disability”. Prior to his diagnosis, on a song called Champion Kanye rapped: “They used to feel invisible, now they know they invincible." He used this to reference talking to children and encouraging them to stay in school, though he dropped out - yet it correlates directly to people living with mental health issues. Although many people are beginning to speak out about it now, and it pops up in film and television more, mental illness used to be something to hide and feel ashamed of. The strides to normalise the conversation is needed, and those affected need to be assisted and supported.
the sunken place
There have been talks about the infamous ‘sunken place’ due to him marrying a Kardashian. People have said that he isn’t thinking rationally, and essentially living in a bubble. Others have also said as a result this is why Kanye supports the President of the United States, although it is contradictory to everything Kanye West - well, the old Kanye West would ever stand for. However, there are a lot of factors that people don’t consider. He has been hospitalised and prescribed medication. That medication alters everything: mind, body, hormones, attitude and more. It also takes time to find the right medication that works for a specific person. So his life would have changed in the process of being diagnosed. Those lyrics of feeling like a “zombie” are real and true to him. And mania makes you feel limitless. You don’t question or second guess anything. It’s like having a museum of unlimited knowledge.
So here’s a message to those of you that don’t or do know someone with a mental illness. Know that it’s not an easy road for them; they are going about life trying to figure it all out just as you are, and they are still human. According to John's Hopkin's Medicine, one in four people have a mental illness, which means that everyone needs to be educated. Mental illness isn’t contagious or something to fear; some of the most incandescent people live with a mental illness and are extremely creative and innovative. Like Kanye, they have a story to tell, and it’s okay to listen, in fact, it’s normal.