Kanye West on his bipolar disorder: ‘Everyone now is an actor, everything’s a conspiracy’

30th.Annual GLAAD Media awards NYC

As we discussed yesterday, Kanye West gave a lengthy interview to David Letterman for Dave’s Netflix interview series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. The early quotes from the interview were about Kanye’s politics, and how he’s still a g–damn Trump supporter who thinks he’s being “bullied” whenever anyone asks him “why are you supporting a racist fascist?” Obviously, there was a lot more in the interview. Apparently, at one point, Kanye references Drake, someone he’s had beef with several times. Kanye doesn’t mention Drake by name, instead referring to him as “an artist which I will not mention because I’m not allowed to mention him or any of his family members.” I wonder who told him he’s not allowed? Kim? And there’s more from the interview – Kanye sounding like an utter douchebag about the Me Too movement, and going in-depth about his bipolar disorder.

On the #MeToo movement: “We as a society are constantly in fear,” Kanye said. Dave responded, “Well you mention a general fear of the male side of this situation. I would submit that it’s not equal by any equation to the fear women feel being the other side of that.” The crowd then cheered. “I’m definitely supportive of the women,” Kanye said. “What I’m saying is we’re not allowed to have any conversation. When you go to court, both sides can talk. This is a court of public opinion where when someone bombs first, the war is supposedly over.”

What happens when he has a bipolar “episode”: “When you’re in this state, you’re hyper-paranoid about everything. Everyone — this is my experience, other people have different experiences — everyone now is an actor. Everything’s a conspiracy. You feel the government is putting chips in your head. You feel you’re being recorded. You feel all these things. You have this moment [where] you feel everyone wants to kill you. You pretty much don’t trust anyone.”

He needed to be handcuffed during one episode: “They have this moment where they put you — they handcuff you, they drug you, they put you on the bed, and they separate you from everyone you know. That’s something that I am so happy that I experienced myself so I can start by changing that moment. When you are in that state, you have to have someone you trust. It is cruel and primitive to do that.”

What happens if he’s unmedicated: “If you don’t take medication every day to keep you at a certain state, you have a potential to ramp up and it can take you to a point where you can even end up in the hospital. And you start acting erratic, as TMZ would put it… When you ramp up, it expresses your personality more. You can become almost more adolescent in your expression. This is my specific experience that I’ve had over the past two years, because I’ve only been diagnosed for two years now.”

The sprained brain: “It’s a health issue that has a strong stigma on it and people are allowed to say anything about it and discriminate in any way. This is like a sprained brain, like having a sprained ankle. And if someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not going to push on him more. With us, once our brain gets to a point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse.”

[From People & Vulture]

I think the way he explains his bipolar disorder is very interesting and evocative. At times, in the past, I’ve often wondered if Kanye is the most reliable narrator of his own bipolar experience, especially when it feels like he stops taking his medication for weeks at a time. While it’s an eye-opening journey to hear from Kanye about his mental illness, I also feel like… there needs to be a better roadmap for journalists, bloggers and fans to talk about Kanye when it’s clear that he is having an “episode,” you know? I think some of the problematic sh-t he says is his illness speaking. But some of it is just his own ignorance and arrogance too.

As for what he says about Me Too – “When you go to court, both sides can talk. This is a court of public opinion where when someone bombs first, the war is supposedly over.” That’s the rallying cry of the #NotAllMen Matt Damons of the world, the ones who say “yeah, she says she was raped but that’s no reason to destroy a guy’s CAREER!”

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West join their family for Sunday church

Photos courtesy of Backgrid and Avalon Red.

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49 Responses to “Kanye West on his bipolar disorder: ‘Everyone now is an actor, everything’s a conspiracy’”

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  1. Rapunzel says:

    “Dave responded, ‘Well you mention a general fear of the male side of this situation. I would submit that it’s not equal by any equation to the fear women feel being the other side of that.’ ”

    Not only this, but any Male fear in a #metoo situation is precisely because men refuse to listen to women. Dear #notallmen: if you would just listen to women, they could tell you what to do to avoid accusations.

    • Bella Bella says:

      I wish there was a collective decision to not cover anything Kanye related.

      • Somelady says:

        I think his words on his manic episode are incredibly valuable and I appreciate his honesty. Had a similar episode when my PTSD hit the wall a couple years ago and it was exactly like that. Suddenly the world changed overnight, and everyone was an actor, it was all a stage and conspiracy, and it was utterly terrifying. I feel like one day I realized my life was a mix between Get Out and Handmaid’s Tale and I lost about ten lbs because I was in constant fight or flight. I don’t wish that on anyone, but what I did gain was endless empathy for those who experience that on a chronic level and don’t respond to life changes or treatment.

        I also hate that I can’t use my username I use her on the daily because I still fear the stigma that comes with having a psychic break like that. Kanye deserves some credit.

      • C says:

        “I wish there was a collective decision to not cover anything Kanye related.”….and also the Kardashians!!! 🙏🏻

      • Gina says:

        I completely agree!!!! Cancel him!! And the whole Klown family

      • kellybean says:

        @somelady
        My heart goes out to you as someone who is also bipolar. I’m sorry you have experienced the pain and destruction it can cause to our lives-it’s something we never asked for. Wishing you all the best.

    • Wilady says:

      First- This is coming from a rape survivor who lives with the ugly aftermath daily. Hear me out.

      These answers are kind of proving his point. That we aren’t having conversations or listening to people talk about fear. I don’t think he’s talking about hearing both sides on an assault case, I think he’s talking about the fear of old decisions coming back to haunt you, decisions you may not even realize you’ve made. We are just cancelling people, and YES FEAR OF RAPE IS WORSE, but the fear of being cancelled for an ignorant action you made years ago would be scary. Also RAPE ISN’T A DUMB DECISION, IT’S A FELONY, NOT JUST A DUMB DECISION, but invalidating someone’s words because yours are worse doesn’t really help anyone. A broken arm doesn’t hurt less because someone is in a body cast. If he thinks it’s scary, let him talk about it, and if he’s not willing to listen himself, then deal with that. But I think conversations are a good thing, and then education can happen all around.

      Can’t wait to be eviscerated and cancelled for this one, but I’m saying it.

      • Taylor says:

        Cannot fucking like this comment enough. You are so spot on.

      • Vizia says:

        This.

      • Mei says:

        Can’t express how sorry I am that you had to go through that, or that you had to say that to start your comment to give it validity when it is a perfectly valid point on its own.

        But absolute yes to this, I completely agree. People need to listen and absorb and reflect in a wider context before responding to anything but most people do not.

  2. ChillyWilly says:

    I don’t get why Letterman wasted an interview on this guy. He has nothing intelligent, helpful or even interesting to say about anything, including mental health.

    • PGC says:

      I have to disagree. A celebrity saying that this kind of institutionalization is violent is incredibly powerful. I wish it were a better messenger but the disability community has been pointing this out for years. He’s right that often the treatment makes it worse. It is very powerful to hear this come from someone this famous. If he does half the work on this that Kim does on prison reform he will have made a real difference with his life.

      • Snap Happy says:

        I agree with PGC. His words were very interesting. That he even admits his illness can be helpful to those suffering.

      • Wilady says:

        I think what makes him a “bad messenger” is the fact that he had this experience in the first place. People don’t trust his words because they feel he erased all credibility during his actual episodes, which actually make him a credible source on mental health. Someone like Sandra Bullock or Oprah would be considered a better messenger here, but they don’t have the experience or actual insight, and would send the wrong message. That’s the hard part with mental illness, and that’s the stigma at work.

        Sorry, I’m passionate and empathetic about things stuff, and it’s clearly showing.

    • Lightpurple says:

      Of course, the result of the interview could be that a great many more people finally realize that this guy has nothing intelligent, helpful or even interesting to say about anything, including mental health.

      My sympathies lie with the four children who were brought into that household

    • PGC says:

      @wilady to me what makes him a bad messenger is that he is a vocal Trump supporter. I’m not willing to blame that on mental illness ;)

      • Steff says:

        ☝️ This. He STILL supports Trump after what he did and said during his very public manic episode.

    • adastraperaspera says:

      Agree.

  3. BaronSamedi says:

    He’s the perfect example for why we should not actually care about what a celebrity has to say about anything but their art. Nothing he has done in his life qualifies him to speak on any of the topics covered here with any authority and yet it is treated with a weight it simply does not deserve.

    I’m not a mental health expert but what he describes sounds more schizophrenic than bi-polar to me. Then again mental illness comes in many varieties.

    • Mle428 says:

      Mental health provider, here. Most mental illness can have psychotic features: depression, anxiety, and definitely bipolar. I appreciate what he’s saying here about his experience with mental illness. The more people that speak up, the less stigmatized mental illness will become.

      You’re clearly not even remotely educated on mental illness, baronsamedi, so you probably should have sat this one out.

      • BlueSky says:

        @MLE428 thanks for your input. I’m a healthcare professional although behavioral health is not my specialty. One of my former jobs was doing disability case management. We had a BH vendor who would assist with BH claims and I often found them the most challenging to case managed due a variety of issues. I was always appreciative of the licensed counselors we worked with in helping these individuals.

    • KarenG says:

      Type 1 Bipolar Disorder can include psychosis such as experiencing delusions and hallucinations. It’s one of the two main things that distinguish it from Type 2 Bipolar Disorder.

    • andkenn says:

      Yea, you’re clearly out of your depth here. That’s textbook symptoms of Type 1 of bipolar disorder. As someone with it, it is inspiring to hear someone (even if that mouthpiece is Kanye) speak candidly and openly about the disorder and how it manifests. Even the really ugly parts of it.

      • kellybean says:

        Completely agree. He speaks to the symptoms that people want to ignore or dismiss your disorder as a character flaw. It can be frustrating for those in our lives and also incredibly frustrating and shameful when I could become aggressive and act in ways that only occur when I’m manic. I also respect that he talked about the need to be restrained for his own safety. It’s scary as hell to feel like something has taken over you. It can be ugly and many people prefer not to understand or empathize for these reasons. That is why the stigma is still very alive and leads to fear of treatment.

    • Wilady says:

      Mle428 That’s Incredibly ignorant. You are clearly uneducated on the subject, and are really missing out on some good insight from him him on mental illness, and proving his point in the process. How about that.

      • Mle428 says:

        I have no idea how you even remotely came to that conclusion. Did you even respond to the correct person or read my post, Wilady?

      • Mle428 says:

        In reading this again @wilady, you need to be more careful in understanding who you are responding to. My comment was in defense of Kanye and saying that we need more people speaking out. Don’t attack blindly. It hurts the cause that we both clearly care about.

      • Wilady says:

        Mle48 sorry, , I am absolutely on your side and was responding to the comment above about him sounding more schizophrenic. Totally my mistake, I scrolled up to check the name and grabbed the wrong one. I’m with you, babe.

  4. Amelie says:

    This is probably the most coherent interview I’ve read from Kanye in a very long time. It is very clear when he’s on his medication and when he’s stopped. He becomes a bit like Trump in his speech patterns, jumping from topic to topic with no clear logic or reason (maybe that’s why he loves Trump so much?). I feel for him as a mental health sufferer, I at times deal with severe episodes of anxiety and depression and I have since my adolescence. I am not medicated at this time (for now). I also become paranoid and obsess over things at times but nothing like being recorded or chips being implanted in my head (more like… extreme paranoia of bed bugs for example).

    However just because he has BPD doesn’t mean he gets to be an ahole and a narcissist. I really do wonder when Kim will pull the plug on this. They’ve lasted longer than I thought they would.

    • Megan says:

      I agree, this is one of the best interviews I have read with Kanye. He is problematic on so many issues, but he has a huge fan base and I think it is helpful for him to talk openly and honestly about mental illness.

      As for how Kim puts up with him … maybe she wears ear buds all day long and just nods occasionally in agreement.

  5. BlueSky says:

    So we are allowed to talk about him being bipolar now? Because he keeps changing his story. Remember when he said he wasn’t
    Bipolar and it was just sleep deprivation? He’s exhausting. I’m fine with Kanye talking about his illness because it’s his experience. I do have an issue with what I feel at times his tendency to weaponize it when anyone dares to criticize him for anything.

    • Wilady says:

      That could be self preservation or denial speaking, or being in a hypomanic state, or even being paranoid that if he mentioned mental illness he could be killed or conspired against. I don’t see it as lies, just symptoms of his illness.

      • BlueSky says:

        @wilady I never said he was lying. I think he at times is in denial about his illness. When anyone dares to challenge him on an issue or criticize him, he has a tendency to do the whole “don’t criticize me, I’m bipolar” response. I’m just disturbed by his past comments about bipolar being a “super power” I’m sure it’s a coping mechanism and maybe his way of removing the stigma of mental illness but I feel at times it minimizes how serious it can be for others and their families.

      • KarenG says:

        Being in a manic state CAN feel like having a super power. I LOVE being in a manic state. I can achieve some mad awesome things when I’m manic. When I’m in a depressed state, sometimes I try to figure out how to trigger my mania just to feel that awesome again. BUT…and that’s a big but…I also make TERRIBLE decisions from which the fall out can take years to recover and in some cases the hurt I inflict on others has not been reperable. God bless the friends that have stuck by me and I have alot of empathy and regret for the ones who had to step away. Part of the management of my illness is helping myself and my friends identify early signs of mania and to develop healthy coping tools instead of fantasizing about mania when I’m depressed. And meds help. But yeah…super power.

    • Wilady says:

      You didn’t say he was lying, and I didn’t think you did. Was commenting on the back and forth of his denial and acceptance appearing to look like lies, but I think it’s denial or fear. It wasnt an argumentative comment, just a supplementary comment.

      I shouldn’t have commented so much on this thread while trying to get my kids out the door to school, I’m rushed and coming off wrong everywhere. Apologies.

  6. Lynne says:

    I thought he was diagnosed as a child, that his mother wrote about it in her book?

  7. Eeeeeeetrain says:

    The ‘you’ talk is interesting, coming from a megalomaniac.

  8. AnnaKist says:

    He’s a boar, a boor and a bore. I wish he had an *off* switch.

  9. jen says:

    Kanye is also a narcissist and will say anything for attention, just like all the Kardashians. Was he “handcuffed” or restrained in the hospital? And what was his behavior, because It’s not at all extreme or unheard of for a mentally ill, violent client that is out of control to be restrained in this way. It’s for safety. Kanye plays the victim and knows what will get good ratings.

    • KarenG says:

      I’ve been both a patient being restrained and a social worker in a psychiatric hospitaI where patients have been restrained. I think restraints are used WAY more than is actually necessary, and are used for longer than is necessary. They are often used simply for the convenience of staff. It’s an awful experience that can exacerbate one’s psychotic state, rather than alleviate it. Ellen Saks, an esteemed dean and law professor, has a schizophrenia disorder. She has a great TED talk where she describes the horrible experience of being restrained during a psychotic break, when other interventions could have been appropriate.

      Protocol also varies by facility. One hospital I was in in New York is an apocalyptic nightmare and they use both physical and chemical restraints. Another hospital I was in was a “no restraint” facility. Both places dealt with the same kind of patients (including “forensic” patients) and the same kind of symptoms/behavior. In my experience, no restraint facilities have faster and better outcomes for patients. But I stop short at saying restraints should NEVER be used.

  10. madthinking says:

    The problem with Kanye is you are never 100% sure if what he is saying is because of a bonafide medical condition or if it is the way he thinks. I agree as a society I don’t believe the media coverage on obvious people with mental issues is done well. My gut however is telling me this interview is his perspective coming from a uber wealthy with tons of advantages celebrity, not his illness. His description of his mental health issues is gripping and informative.

    I believe Letterman any errors in judgement with the metoo movement pails in comparison to what women have faced for years, but Kanye is right in today’s social media Trump’s scream loudest world the loudest most colorful voices are the one’s being heard and given credence. I mean from a middle class woman’s perspective, thankfully, I don’t know any woman who have been sexually assaulted for a career, but almost every woman I know at one time has been belittled, pigeon holed in low ranking careers and just overall disrespected purely cause they have a vagina. Granted it’s not as dramatic as a physical sexual assault, but I think it affects more women and desperately needs to change and it is not being discussed.

  11. STRIPE says:

    “there needs to be a better roadmap for journalists, bloggers and fans to talk about Kanye when it’s clear that he is having an “episode,” you know?”

    Louder for the people in the back!!’ This is one of the worst parts to me…the TMZs of the world that have him on when he is clearly ill. It’s sick.

  12. bears says:

    When are people going to stop giving Kanye a platform just because he has a “mental illness”? That doesn’t make him interesting. Even when he’s medicated, he’s still an insufferably stupid clown. Seriously, the guy is just downright dumb. Maybe if people ignore him, he’ll sit down and go away already.

  13. minnie mouse says:

    Really? Stay on your meds dude, and you will be in the real world. Not your childish fantasy world of mania and paranoia

  14. Alyse says:

    UGH

    As for what he says about Me Too – “When you go to court, both sides can talk. This is a court of public opinion where when someone bombs first, the war is supposedly over.”

    Only this isn’t true.. the courts generally DON’T give the victim a REAL chance to share their side

    Currently reading Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee, and it’s so depressing… (About an AUS lawyer’s first year as a Judge’s clerk, and how depressing/unfair basically every sexual abuse case is – absolutely weighted against victims, with the only exceptions being if the abuser is a poor/poc… I can only read it for 20min at a time)

  15. kellybean says:

    As someone who has been treated for bipolar disorder for five years and had my first manic break twelve years ago, I am impressed with how he described his illness and manic episodes. I am a bit confused about the opinion that this may be his illness speaking of his episodes…. even if he were in the midst of a manic episode, he still had the ability to honestly describe the paranoia and other symptoms he is experiencing. My episodes are hypomanic versus hypermanic and I never experienced a completely break with reality but I have received inpatient treatment with many people who suffered psychosis. Not many celebrities have been as candid and discussed their bipolar disorder with this depth. I have many family members who believe that if I follow a certain diet and exercise regularly than I won’t need medication. Frankly, that is ignorant. There is no cure for bipolar disorder and I as well as many others will need to be on medication their entire lives to keep their moods stable. I have accepted this and while I don’t readily share it I feel no shame. I appreciate that he addressed this issue as well.

    I am appalled by his thoughts on the Metoo movement. I have also been assaulted. They are damaging and dangerous.

    I think it is best for his mental health that he not become a spectacle like the media did with Britney Spears. We still have a very long way to go with mental illness. Bipolar disorder is also one that is very stigmatized and society would prefer us to stay silent. I highly recommend An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jameson.

  16. Oliviajoy1995 says:

    I feel like whenever Kanye does interviews he just says a lot of words and doesn’t make any sense.