Kanye West has been displaying symptoms of experiencing a manic episode for (at least) the past month. On Sunday, July 19th, he held his first campaign event, since announcing his presidential run earlier this month, in South Carolina (while wearing a bulletproof vest). There, he misinterpreted Harriet Tubman’s legacy and cried while making remarks about his wife’s fertility issues.
Earlier today, the rapper unleashed on his family in a series of nonsensical tweets, a mere 24 hours after causing concern among fans for his mental health with a similar outburst. Among a slew of claims, West disclosed that his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and her mother, Kris Jenner, tried to fly two doctors out to his location in an attempt to have him hospitalized. In the same tweet, he revealed that he had been trying to divorce Kim for the past two years and called her mom ‘Kris Jung-Un’. He also compared himself, and his life with the Kardashians, as being the main character in the Get Out movie.
A few hours later, Kim Kardashian posted the following statement to her Instagram stories, opening up about West’s disorder for the first time:
“As many of you know, Kanye has bi-polar 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. I’ve never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I am very protective of our children and Kanye’s right to privacy when it comes to his health. But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health.
Those that understand mental illness or even compulsive behavior know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor. People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgemental and not understand that the individual themselves have to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard family and friends try.
I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions. He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words some times do not align with his intentions.
Living with bi-polar disorder does not diminish or invalidate his dreams and his creative ideas, no matter how big or unobtainable they may feel to some. That is part of his genius and as we have all witnessed, many of his big dreams have come true.
We as a society talk about giving grace to the issue of mental health as a whole, however, we should also give it to the individuals who are living with it in times when they need it the most. I kindly ask that the media and public give us the compassion and empathy that is needed so that we can get through this. Thank you for those who expressed concern for Kanye’s well being and for your understanding.
With Love and Gratitude,
Kim Kardashian West”
While Kanye West having bipolar disorder does not excuse his spread of misinformation, it does mean how we engage and speak about him shouldn’t be ableist. This is truly what bipolar disorder looks like. Hopefully he finds help and soon.
* If interested in learning about one of America’s most heroic women, Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman is 176 pages of carefully researched information on Tubman’s contribution to history.