Kanye West’s troubled mental state has been on full view over the last few days.
A series of concerning tweets and public appearances have likely been the result of the 43-year-old rapper’s bipolarism, his wife Kim Kardashian said.
Kardashian, 39, and her family have been the subjects of his ultrapersonal rants, including the claim that she wanted to abort their first child together and implied that she might have been unfaithful in their marriage in a now-deleted tweet. But Kardashian took to Instagram Wednesday to explain West’s behavior and ask their fans and foes for understanding.
“As many of you know, Kanye has [bipolar] disorder,” she wrote of her husband’s meltdown. “Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words [sometimes] do not align with his intentions.”
The newly minted billionaire and mom of four asked for “compassion and empathy . . . so that we can get through this” in her statement after what has been a roller coaster week for the West family.
West’s erratic behavior is part and parcel to the mental health disorder which, according to the American Psychiatric Association, can bring on “extreme and intense emotional states” and can include “risky behavior” and irritability.
How did the 21-time Grammy winner get here? Here’s a look into the disorder and its effect on West over the years.
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder — type I, II or more mild cyclothymia — is defined by “dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly,” according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The 4.4% of Americans with bipolar disorder experience alternating periods of mania and depression that can each last months.
Manic moods, characterized by a euphoric but outsized sense of self-confidence, can lead to erratic behavior — anything from “jumping from one idea to another,” to “irritability,” to spending sprees to “sexual liaisons,” Dr. Lloyd Sederer, chief medical officer at the New York State Office of Mental Health recently told The Post.
Whatever form the mania takes, one thing remains true: Every episode raises the patient’s odds of having another. “It’s the kindling theory,” Sederer explained. “There’s been more wood added to the fire, so it’s easier for the fire to be ignited.”
An “exaggerated, puffed-up self-esteem” is a feature of bipolar disorder, according to Harvard Medical School, one mirrored by the artist’s tracks “I Am A God” from the 2013 “Yeezus” album, and grandiose statements such as, “I’m the greatest human artist of all time.”
What’s going on with Kanye lately?
Signs of familial trouble came following his announcement on the 4th of July 2020 that he’d be running for president, and at a presidential campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina Sunday.
Sporting a bulletproof vest and with “2020” shaved into his hair, the rapper gave an emotional and, at times, hysterical speech. “I almost killed my daughter,” yelled West as security guards looked on with concern, describing how he and then-girlfriend Kim debated an abortion.
Then, in a few brief but bizarre Twitter rants — most of which have been deleted — West claimed his family sent two doctors to his ranch in Cody, Wyoming, to “51/50” him, referring to an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization “of up to 72 hours for assessment, evaluation and crisis intervention,” according to California law.
The “Graduation” hit-maker added that he’s been “trying to get divorce” since “Kim met Meek at the Waldorf for ‘prison reform,’ ” referring to a 2018 summit on criminal justice reform the two attended. He also accused the Kardashian-Jenner clan of “white supremacy” and referred to his mother-in-law as “Kris Jung-Un.”
What could have triggered Kanye’s recent mania?
“Periods of high stress, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic event,” is a risk factor, according to Mayo Clinic.
Doctors emphasize that many stressors and factors, known and unknown, can lead to a manic episode. Some have speculated that his recent episode could have been brought on by the birthday of his late mother Donda, who would have been 71 on July 12. She died in 2007 while undergoing plastic surgery.
Kim alluded in her statement to Kanye’s “painful loss of his mother.” The rapper’s upcoming album is named for his mom. “DONDA: WITH CHILD new album and movie this Friday,” wrote “Ye” on Twitter.
The stresses of the pandemic — which reportedly has the couple “at each other’s throats,” according to Page Six — may also be a factor, some speculate.
According to a source close to the rapper, West is prone to working as many as 48 hours at a time, a possible sign of a manic state. Recently, West signed a 10-year contract with Gap for a new line — but then threatened to pull out of the deal. He’s also producing an album, overseeing construction of shell-like enclosures as part of his “FTR” project and running for president.
“Doing many activities at once [and] scheduling more events in a day than can be accomplished” is a sign of manic behavior according to the American Psychiatric Association.
According to Harvard Medical School, “False beliefs or false perceptions” can be a sign of bipolarism. That could explain some of the misinformation that West has been sharing lately.
“Harriet Tubman never actually freed the slaves,” posited West at his campaign rally, echoing his other eyebrow-raising convictions including that slavery was “a choice.” He also recently claimed disgraced comedian Bill Cosby was “locked up” by NBC. Earlier this month he told a Forbes reporter that vaccines are “the mark of the beast.”
West’s mental health history
West has exhibited similarly erratic behavior before, such as his 2009 VMAs interruption of Taylor Swift. He also had to cancel the remainder of his “Saint Pablo Tour” dates in November 2016 after a shortened concert left audiences enraged. An “exhausted” West was later hospitalized.
In 2018, the album art for West’s eighth record “Ye” included the phrase, “I hate being / Bi-Polar / it’s awesome” over an iPhone picture of the Wyoming mountain range. West also referred to the disorder as “my superpower” on the album.
Recently, West has been more open about his struggles and has become more of an advocate for erasing the stigma around mental illness.
“ ‘Crazy’ is a word that’s not gonna be used loosely in the future,” West told Forbes in 2019. “Understand that this is actually a condition that people can end up in, be born into, driven into and go in and out. And there’s a lot of people that have been called that ‘C’ word that have ended up on this cover,” he said, referring to Forbes.
In an interview with David Letterman, West himself detailed his experiences with the disorder, saying that for him everything can feel like “a conspiracy.”
“You feel the government is putting chips in your head,” he told Letterman, adding that he only got his diagnosis two years prior to their 2019 interview. “You feel you’re being recorded. You feel all these things.”
Treatment for bipolar disorder
The disorder is often treated with behavioral therapy and antipsychotic medications. But according to a source close to the Wests, “[Kanye] won’t take medications because he feels they make him less creative.”