Kanye West On Mental Health Issues: 'It's Not a Disability, It's A Super Power'

By David Konow 06/05/18

The rapper opened up about being newly diagnosed with a "mental condition" during a recent interview.

Kanye West
Photo via YouTube

Kanye West has just released his new album, Ye, which tackles a wide variety of subjects, including his marriage to Kim Kardashian, as well as his mental health with the song "Yikes."

In "Yikes," West says he is bipolar, which he calls a “superpower,” and in the song he states it “ain’t no disability, I’m a superhero.”

Bipolar disorder is also a major focus on the cover of the album. "I hate being bi-polar it's awesome," is scrawled in neon green across the cover, while the mountains of Wyoming loom in the background.

West then opened up to radio personality Big Boy about his mental health, saying, “I’m so blessed and so privileged because think about people that have issues that are not Kanye West, that can’t go and make that [music] and make you feel like it’s all good. I’d never been diagnosed and I was like 39 years old… That’s why I said on the album, ‘It’s not a disability, it’s a super power.’”

Naturally, West’s revelation has stirred up a wide variety of reactions and controversy. As Yahoo reports, the reaction on Twitter has been mixed.

One fan tweeted, “Kanye calling Bipolar his superpower was inspiring,” while another added, “Quite a way to end Mental Health Awareness Month to have Kanye West, one of the biggest people on the planet, reveal he’s dealing with bipolar disorder and call it a superpower.”

Yet another person remarked, “Look, I’m not gonna tell someone how they should feel and talk about their mental illness. But someone with Kanye’s platform glorifying bipolar disorder as a ‘superpower’ and potentially discouraging folks from seeking treatment and help is not good.”

Mental health advocates also have mixed feelings about West’s revelation. Eric Youngstrom, PhD, who is the acting director of The Center for Excellence in Research and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, felt that West coming forward about his mental health condition “reduces the shame and stigma around it. The messaging of this is that having a mental health condition doesn’t mean you’re ill or broke, and that’s extremely powerful.”

Yet John Mayer, PhD, tells Yahoo, “Saying [bipolar disorder] is a superpower denies your need to cope and accept your illness.”

West’s mental health revelation comes on the heels of his previous confession that he was hooked on opioids. “I was drugged the fuck out,” he told TMZ.

He was also featured on the Travis Scott song “Watch,” in which he rapped, “Wanna know how pain feels? I got off my main pills. Bet my wifey stay close, she know I’m on my Bezos. Opioid addiction, pharmacy’s the real trap. Sometimes I feel trapped, Jordan with no Phil Jack.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.