Reactions To Kanye West Breakdown Demonstrate How We Don’t Take Celebrity Mental Health Seriously
If, in the last few days, you’ve turned on your TV to see the news, logged into to Twitter, or even nipped to the pub to see your mates, no doubt you’ll have heard about Kanye West.
In the last week, the man we know as a creative genius, father-of-four, husband to Kim Kardashian and presidential candidate-hopeful, has broken down in front of thousands of people at a presidential rally, compared his life to 2017 horror movie Get Out, and likened his own mother-in-law to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.
When you’re sat in the comfort of your own home, flicking through a series of tweets from a multi-millionaire artist who appears to be savagely shredding through his globally famous family members, one by one, it’s easy to feel completely removed, as though we’re watching through the lens of a fictional television show created solely for our entertainment.
And, yet, when a celebrity or anyone in the public eye succumbs to the demons they face and ultimately take their own life, social media is strewn with messages from people reminding us to ‘be kind’ and particularly to be conscious of the person we present ourselves on social media.
Obviously, I’m not trying to imply that is in anyway the fate that lies ahead of Kanye, but it’s no secret he has struggled with his mental health, more specifically bipolar disorder, something which Kim Kardashian touched on in her first statement since it all began to unfold.
Kim chose to ignore the direct claims made by Kanye, that Kim almost aborted her eldest daughter and that he had been trying to divorce her ever since she met up with fellow rapper Meek Mill to discuss prison reform.
Instead, Kim issued a poignant message to remind us all that Kanye might be an entertainer, a public figure and someone who we would never ordinarily be able to relate to, but he’s also a real human being with his own demons. Demons that are amplified by the position he is in.
She went on to say how bipolar, which manifests itself in the form of manic highs and depressive lows, or manic episodes known as hypomania, is ‘complicated and painful to understand’.
Kim noted that all those who know Kanye know he is a ‘brilliant but complicated’ person whose words don’t always align with his intentions.
‘Those that understand mental illness or even compulsive behaviour know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor,’ she wrote, referencing the fact she had unsuccessfully attempted to fly a doctor out to see him following his appearance at the rally.
‘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.’
Kim acknowledged the fact Kanye is ‘subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions,’ but asked for greater empathy and understanding of his illness.
‘Living with bipolar disorder does not diminish or invalidate his dreams and his creative ideas, no matter how big or unobtainable they may feel to some,’ she wrote. ‘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.
The truth is we see celebrities as so far removed from ourselves. They have money, and access to so many things the majority of us mere mortals don’t, and so it’s easy to see them as a source of amusement for our own entertainment, whether that be through their music, their films or through the chaos of their personal lives being splashed all over the news.
But, sadly, we often only heed our own warnings once it is too late, and we, again, find ourselves talking about becoming better people on the internet.
By all means, Kanye isn’t a saint, but he is a husband, a son, a father and a human, and we should give him the respect he deserves as he continues on his own journey.
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.
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