My Kanye West can at best be described as a bit of a muddle of a man. One day espousing the plight of the African American, the next being a very public advocate of Donald Trump, the later being a man who shows little fear of being openly racist about the same community. So when news reports started coming in recently of his open declaration of being Bipolar I found myself becoming quietly furious that press and public began remarking ‘Ah well that explains it all then.’
I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar for twenty four years. At no point has the condition influenced my political thinking. I’m on the left and fully appreciate many in the world do not agree with me. That’s of course perfectly fine and as things should be. If however, I did suddenly start endorsing a bigoted narcissist like Donald Trump I would hope people would realise that it’s because at best I’m a naive arsehole and at worse a bigoted narcissist, and that it has absolutely nothing to do with me being Bipolar. Choices such as supporting Trump come from deeper life experiences than the impulse of a disorder.
More of a worry though is Kanye’s recent commentary on Bipolar as a disorder. On the cover of his latest LP we see some graffiti stating ‘I hate being Bipolar, It’s awesome.’ An old and tired joke I’ve heard many times. More worryingly on the LP itself he declares “Ain’t no disability, I’m a superhero.’ And has publicly described the disorder as ‘A superpower’ I can sympathise that from Kanye’s rarefied position in life he may feel that he does indeed have superpowers, I also have a concern that such statements may come from a mind that is a bit high. Problem is, will he be making such claims when that high inevitably has to crash.
My main real problem is the notion of ‘ain’t no disability’. Trust me on the four times I’ve been hospitalised, when the condition has terrified both me and all those that I love, I really do hope people will realise that’s because I have a disability and am not indeed a bigoted narcissist. Also stating you don’t have a disability just reinforces the stigma of being disabled. It says I’m better than the disabled. It says disability is a weakness. It belittles all the people who have died from the condition. It makes light of all the people currently facing huge struggles because they have a disorder.
Worse still all of this is all over the global news. It reinforces the notion that there’s nothing really wrong with the mentally ill, we all just need to get our shit together and be more like Kanye. Thank you, but I think I’ll pass on that one.
Let’s hope in the future Kanye can perhaps show a bit more insight when he comments on these topics. Maybe one day he’ll find himself vulnerable, unable to function and in need of hospital care. On that day I might be more willing to chat about the what’s and where’s of Bipolar Disorder.
1.a state of confusion.“the world ‘s currency markets were in disorder”
synonyms: untidiness, disorderliness, mess, disarray, disorganization, chaos, confusion; More antonyms: order
the breakdown of peaceful and law-abiding public behaviour.“recurrent food crises led to outbreaks of disorder”
synonyms: unrest, disturbance, disruption, upheaval, tumult, turmoil, mayhem, pandemonium;More antonyms: order, peace
MEDICINEan illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions.plural noun: disorders“skin disorders”
synonyms: disease, infection, complaint, problem, condition, affliction, malady, sickness, illness, ailment, infirmity; More
1.disrupt the systematic functioning or neat arrangement of.“she went to comb her disordered hair”
synonyms: untidy, unkempt, messy, in a mess, disarranged, uncombed, unbrushed, ungroomed, tousled, tangled, tangly, knotted, knotty, matted, shaggy, straggly, windswept, windblown, wild; More
MEDICINEdisrupt the normal functioning of.“a patient who is mentally disordered”
synonyms: dysfunctional, disturbed, unsettled, unbalanced, unstable, unsound, upset, poorly, sick, diseased;informalscrewed up“a disordered digestive system”
2 thoughts on “No Kanye, Bipolar Ain’t No Superpower.”
Quality post, John.
I’ve waited until today to comment.
I work at a university. I was informed yesterday that a former student I had known, took her own life. Doctor aged 28.
This ain’t no game Mr West.
Thank you Steve. And you’re absolutely right it isn’t a game or a condition that should be romanticised. I’m actually going to post a more serious post on suicide for my next blog so your comment is very welcome (John)