Kanye’s in trouble―at least that’s how it seems. A lot of friends of the rapper-evangelist-Presidential candidate―and those terms aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive―have publicly expressed concern over Kanye’s recent erratic behavior. Kim Kardashian has talked openly of her worries over her husband’s mental state. Reportedly diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, Kanye supposedly doesn’t always take the medication that helps stabilize him.
Bipolar disorders are tricky to treat. For nine years I managed a crisis stabilization unit, an inpatient psychiatric facility with a mission to help those in the throes of a mental collapse. Our goal was to help our residents heal enough to return to their normal lives and get the support they needed through outpatient care. Treating those with bipolar disorders and schizophrenia was frequently intense and difficult.
Part of what makes serious mental illnesses (SMI) like schizophrenia and bipolar disorders hard to heal is that they come in various forms with nuances and characteristics that are not always the same. In other words, a serious mental illness might look differently in you than it would in me.
Another hurdle to cross in treating SMIs is that of convincing the individual they need the help. Someone in the grips of a psychotic episode may have severe paranoia and be suspicious of any attempt to help them. In their reality, they might be a secret agent who is being hunted down, the owner of an entire nation, or Jesus himself. Many of those have to go through a civil commitment process and have treatment forced on them because they don’t see themselves as being ill.
With a bipolar disorder, it’s common to find individuals who like the high that comes with a manic episode. They enjoy life at warp speed, sometimes not sleeping or eating because they’re “getting stuff done”. Even when they are aware of what’s going on with them, some don’t want the highs to be taken away. They enjoy the grandiosity―which, in their minds, is not grandiosity at all, but reality.
Besides having the means to hire the best psychiatric practitioners in the world, one of the best things Kanye has going for him is the plethora of friends and family that are reaching out to him. Let’s hope they have the courage to stand up to him if and when they need too. It has to be tough. Celebrities of such stature can become god-like. Prince, Michael Jackson, Elvis―they all might be alive today had someone had the courage to say “No!” to them.
Kanye’s never been a lemming. He’s always been on the edge or a bit over the line. Are his major shifts toward religion and politics evidence of a manic phase? No one knows for certain other than those in his inner circle, but it’s more than plausible. I’ll go so far as to say, from a professional standpoint, it’s likely.
While everyone needs the support of others, those with an SMI need it all the more. Regardless of what anyone might think of Kanye or his music or his public persona, if he has in fact relapsed in a bipolar disorder, he needs care and help rather than judgment and rejection. Love heals. Let’s send some Kanye’s way.