'As A Woman With Bipolar, Kanye West Needs Help - Not To Be Laughed At'
Since his presidential campaign begun, Kanye West's mental health has been the hot topic on everyone's lips.
The rapper was clearly in a highly erratic state as he took to the stage in North Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday, telling crowds, through sobs, how he had "almost killed" his daughter, North, because he'd considered aborting her.
And last night he was trending on Twitter once again as he suggested his wife, Kim Kardashian, had tried to lock him up, comparing his life to the movie, Get Out.
But instead of sympathising with a man who is clearly unwell, people have instead been watching his angst unravel as if it were a soap opera, hanging on his every word and using it as fodder for memes and flimsy jokes on Twitter.
You'd think we would be past this by now, wouldn't you?
Posting on Twitter as the rapper broke down publicly at the weekend, long-term bipolar sufferer Megan, 27, from Northamptonshire, said: "My heart aches for Kanye....not only because of his current mental health state/s, but due to all of these awful toxic comments that people are making.
"I have bipolar disorder type 2 and my heart aches for me too."
Bipolar disorder is characterised by periods of extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression), and is thought to affect one in every 100 people at some point in their life.
Speaking to Tyla, Megan explains that watching Kanye sob on stage had given her flashbacks of her own periods of mania, and how the public reaction hammered home just how much more understanding is needed when it comes to the disorder.
"As someone who also has bipolar, I know the signs," she says. "At the rally, he was on a high and then when he talked about his daughter he was in floods of tears.
"I remember, with my psychologist, one minute I was crying and the next minute I was laughing and talking very fast.
"You can't just mentally feel it, you can physically feel it. It's like electricity runs through your veins. You can even feel it through your fingertips.
"You can't sit still no matter how hard you try, and often you can't focus on any questions being asked because you're too busy focusing on your own emotions and how quickly they're changing."
Explaining why society needs to cut the rapper some slack, she says: "All these people saying horrible things about him don't even know what it feels like to be inside his head. They really don't know what he's going through right now."
While there has been much speculation about Kanye's mental state for years, he spoke publicly about his bipolar disorder for the first time in 2018, two years after it landed him in hospital.
And while he described the condition as a "super-power" in his song Yikes, he also told David Letterman that it often left him "hyper-paranoid about everything", during an interview on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.
"You feel the government is putting chips in your head," he said. "You feel you're being recorded. You feel all these things".
While none of us know the specifics of what Kanye is going through right now, Megan says she knows all too well how "stuck" and alone he must feel, faced with media vitriol, public scrutiny and criticism on such a monumental scale.
Even if you're not a celebrity, Megan explains, "you just feel like everyone's out to get you".
"Its like you can see the sky is blue and everyones saying to you 'no it's green,' but you can see clearly that its blue. I really feel for him, because it's horrible."
It's hard to mistake the paranoia in Kanye's tweets to Kim and her family on Monday night. In one post, he wrote: "Kriss don't play with me you and that calmye are not allowed around my children Ya'll tried to lock me up (sic)."
In another, he likened his life to the film Get Out, where a black man is forced to fight exploitation at every turn, at the hands of a suburban family.
"Everybody knows the movie get out is about me," he penned.
When she was unwell herself, Megan says, she too used social media as a way out.
"You have racing thoughts and if there's no one there to talk to, you're going to use your phone instead to tweet," she reflects. "Twitter is like diary, and your paranoia and upset and happiness and whatever else are all there for people to see."
Of course, it's easy to let disdain for Kanye's politics overshadow any sympathy for his suffering. He harbours some controversial views to say the least, given that he's anti-abortion, has suggested that slavery was 'a choice' and that vaccines are "the mark of the beast".
But, whatever you think of his opinions, Megan rightly points out it is important not to conflate them with "madness".
"People say, 'Oh, Kanye must be mentally ill because he holds these views' but there's no way to know if that's his bipolar or his personality," she says. "You can be frustrated at his views without taking that out on his illness".
Overall, she's found the abuse thrown in Kanye's direction difficult to swallow.
"While I see a some people sympathising with him online, I also see half the population laughing at him, and it's triggering," she says. "I've seen someone call him a nut job, and people saying he needs to go to hospital and stuff like that.
"Some people say things and it makes you think, 'Is that what people would really think of me if they knew?' It makes you question yourself.
"I think people need to try and be kinder and educate themselves. Research and have some empathy."
In total, 46 million people are estimated to suffer from bipolar worldwide, yet it's still the subject of mockery.
Megan adds: "This isn't just about people with bipolar, but loads of people with other mental health conditions.
"If this carries on and people keep making these comments, we're going to go backwards. Patience, nurturing, reassurance, kindness and love. That's all its going to take".
Featured Image Credit: PA