The Liberal Canon
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The Liberal Canon

The Fall Of Kanye West And What It Says About Mental Health Disclosure

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As a tumultuous and exhausting year comes to a close, the discussion around mental health has become increasingly important. It has now started to seem like with the end of 2020, the disaster after disaster that the year brought on will magically disappear too, but the truth is this: we are still very much in the middle of a pandemic. Our lives have been altered drastically, and dealing with the aftershocks won’t be a cakewalk either. That’s why it might help to talk about how we’re feeling. Mental health discourse has come a long way since lobotomies and exorcisms, and the future paints a promising picture.

By the time you’re reading this article, the United States of America will have either chosen a new president, or re-elected an old one. But let’s take a step back and look at someone else who thought he had a chance at becoming the POTUS. In case you’ve been living under a rock, the man in question is Kanye West. Not only did he break the internet by running for president, but he’s also openly declared his support for Donald Trump in the past and made shocking comments suggesting that slavery was a ‘choice’. His seemingly bizarre, and at times downright offensive tweets have justifiably enraged many. But this brazen musician with no filter has actually been struggling with bipolar disorder. He has been open about his mental health issues in the past, and so has his wife, Kim Kardashian West. Yet the internet left no stone unturned in declaring war on Kanye.

What we have before us is a complicated mess — because the anger and outrage is justified. Reading about his support for Trump and watching him rudely interrupt Taylor Swift’s Grammy speech can be quite upsetting. But is online bullying the best course of action when we know that Kanye West is living with a mental illness? Harassing him, casually throwing around words like ‘crazy’ and ‘insane’ while referring to him, and not to mention ‘cancelling him’ is counterproductive and further stigmatizes bipolar disorder.

Mental illness can be difficult and messy, and while we’ve somewhat set the stage to share our experiences judgement-free, we’re still hesitant to have some of the more difficult conversations. When someone lives with a mental health condition, their behaviour not only affects themselves, but also has a profound impact on those around them. We are able to sympathize with those symptoms of mental illness that are easier to deal with, and unknowingly, we might be dismissing those that aren’t. Here it is also important to keep in mind that mental health conditions do not justify someone’s dangerous or hurtful behaviour, they simply provide an explanation for it. Kanye West should not, under any circumstances, be disrupting award shows and posting videos of himself (seemingly) urinating on his Grammy. He should be in therapy, getting help.

But this distorted view is unsurprising. From troubled mama’s boy Norman Bates in ‘Psycho’, to Avni in ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa’, filmmakers haven’t been too sensitive (or well researched) in their portrayal of mental illness.

Neeharika Nene — Psych Club

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