Mental conditions are quite common and are becoming even more apparent while science evolves and we develop more understanding about the brain. While often presented or viewed as a bad thing, research is beginning to reveal that some mental conditions actually provided the “sufferer” with certain skills, abilities, or “superpowers.”
40-year-old rapper, Kanye West, just recently admitted to having been diagnosed with a “mental condition” a year ago (1). Rather than seeing this as some kind of deficiency or handicap, however, West calls his condition his “superpower” (1).
West Openly Discusses His Mental Conditions
Kanye West talked about his diagnosis publicly for the first time while interviewing for the radio host, Big Boy. While he did not specifically identify what kind of condition he has been diagnosed with, he did write that he is bipolar in his newest album’s artwork. His album cover reads, “I hate being bipolar it’s awesome.” While on the Big Boy radio show, West said, “I had never been diagnosed until I was 39, but like I said on the album, it’s not a disability, it’s a superpower” (1).
It seems that Kanye’s new album contains several pieces of his semi-recent diagnosis. In his new song, “Yikes,” West references his bipolar disorder by calling it his “third person” and not a disability. It seems that rather than crumbling under his diagnosis, West is embracing his condition for the strengths it could provide him, saying, “I’m a superhero, I’m a superhero” in his lyrics. West’s new album has held the number one spot on the U.S. iTunes charts.
West speaks out about Bipolar Disorder
West was hospitalized back in 2016 for a mental breakdown (2). The details of his breakdown are still unclear, but it forced him to cancel the remaining dates of his Saint Pablo tour (2). West said afterward that he thinks that he was “in a stronger place than…ever” after his breakdown (2). Much like his current outlook of positivity, West decided to view his breakdown as a breakthrough instead (2).
While West never explicitly stated what this new mental condition is, his album strongly suggests bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is understood to be a manic-depressive illness; a brain disorder causing unusual mood swings, energy, and activity level changes and that affects one’s ability to carry out day-to-day tasks (3).
There are four basic bipolar disorder types, all including different mood, energy, and activity shifts—Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, and Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders (3). Symptoms include patterns of unusually intense emotions, irregular sleep patterns, and other unusual behaviors (3). The distinct periods are commonly called “mood episodes” and they can be drastically different among patients (3).
No matter what kind of diagnosis Kanye West received last year, his positive attitude toward the issue should be seen as encouraging. West’s attitude is not a typical response. His unwillingness to see a mental condition as a setback, but rather as a means by which he can achieve new goals, is entirely admirable.
Read more on mental health and some ways to manage symptoms here.