Colorful illustration of the different sides of Kanye West.

A Breakdown of Kanye West’s Mental Breakdown

While many people are expressing discomfort with presidential candidate Yeezy's remarks, others are expressing concern for the artist's psychological state.
August 10, 2020
8 mins read

Celebrity life may seem fun in the beginning, but eventually the excitement all falls down. And for Kanye West, things aren’t just falling down — everything is unraveling. After his first presidential campaign speech in Charleston, South Carolina, he began receiving unfavorable publicity.

Some may think that “all publicity is good publicity,” but when you’re running for president, that proverb may not be as applicable.

During his presidential campaign, West allowed a couple of audience members to speak on stage in regard to issues that concerned them. Topics ranged from education inequality to police brutality. West also touched on a wide range of topics that were important to him, such as his battle with opioids and his business dealings with Adidas, before elaborating on his pro-life stance.

His stance on abortion is one of the many reasons that West began trending on Twitter. While discussing it, Kanye broke into tears. He talked about his mom “saving his life” after his father wanted to abort him, and his wife having their first child “even when I didn’t want to.”

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“I almost killed my daughter,” he said. “I love my daughter … God wants us to create.”

What struck the audience were the emotions that overcame the rapper. Kanye broke into tears and was barely able to get the rest of his words out.

“No more Plan B — Plan A,” he said, to a mixed response from the audience.

Although West then clarified that he thinks abortion should be legal, he believes there should be more support for those who need it, and even mentioned giving $1 million to those with children.

The emotional moment wasn’t the first stance that caught people off guard; it was what followed.

(Harriet Tubman … I’m sorry in advance.)

Kanye triggered many of the Black audience members after shouting a defaming statement about Harriet Tubman, also known as “the Moses of her people.”

West claimed proudly that the historic icon “never actually freed the slaves.” Instead, “She just had the slaves go work for other, white people.”

This was the moment West received several loud groans in disagreement, while others, such as Toni Fulton and her sister, left the rally.

What was very unsettling to many was that this was not West’s first insensitive comment regarding the traumas that linger in Black history. Back in 2018, West said to TMZ, “When you hear about slavery for 400 years … For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”

Toni Fulton, an audience member at West’s rally, told The Washington Post, “We’re young, black women and there weren’t a lot of us in the room … We know better than to be in a space that we’re not uplifted in. While he was saying a lot of crazy things that didn’t directly offend us, that was offensive and it wasn’t appropriate for us to be there anymore.”

As if things couldn’t possibly take a harsher turn, West fired away on Twitter with back-to-back tweets.

The rant started with a single tweet of Michael Jackson’s music video for his song “Black or White.”

Many didn’t think much of it until a thunderstorm of tweets appeared from West’s Twitter account. And not only did it rain, but it poured.

In since-deleted tweets, West posted the following:

— “I put my life on my God that Norths mom would never photograph her doing playboy and that’s on God I’m at the ranch … come and get me.”

— “I love my wife My family must live next to me It’s not up to E or NBC anymore.”

— “NBC locked up Bill Cosby.”

— “Kim was trying to fly to Wyoming with a doctor to lock me up like on the movie Get Out because I cried about saving my daughters life yesterday.”

He finally tweeted,  “Everybody knows the movie get out is about me.”

While some people thought this was Kanye trying to expose the media or send a hidden message about the corruption of Hollywood, Kim Kardashian stated otherwise.

On her Instagram, Kim made a statement regarding Kanye’s mental health and his bipolar disorder, and asked the public for understanding.

While the damage has already been done, a few good friends of West flew to Wyoming to visit after the series of controversial events. Justin Bieber and Dave Chappelle visited West at his Wyoming ranch.

After dealing with his own trials and tribulations within Hollywood, Chappelle could most likely empathize with his dear friend. And while there are mixed feelings regarding West as of recently, he seems to have a pretty good support system.

Support is good — understanding is golden.

West may have a good support system within his close circle, but having understanding from the public may benefit not only West, but those who are going through the same struggle.

There have been many jokes regarding his mental state on Twitter and other social media platforms, not to mention cancel culture lurking behind every window and tab. But this is just a prime example of why mental illness should be discussed more.

Mental illness has a history of being looked at as taboo, and when you’re a celebrity going through it, people call you crazy — like what happened to Britney Spears in 2007.

Kanye West is no different.

If mental illness is not labeled as “crazy,” it’s viewed as being as real as unicorns. From generation to generation, there has been a stigma attached to mental health, especially within the Black community.

McLean Hospital recently posted an article about Black mental health and some of the reasons why there is such a stigma surrounding it.

Quoting Christine M. Crawford, MD, MPH, the article reads, “ ‘From those historic misconceptions, we learned to ignore mental illness or call it other terms, like “stress” and “being tired.”’ ”

The article continues: “Such nuanced descriptions for depression and other mental illnesses that the Black community adopted and passed on from generation to generation led to underestimating the effects and impact of mental health conditions. It also strengthened beliefs that a psychiatric disorder is a personal weakness. Crawford explained that ‘all these factors created a culture that is fearful and uninformed about mental illness.’ ”

Many say that ever since West’s mother passed away, his mental health has never been the same, which Kim Kardashian also pointed out in her Instagram post. “He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a Black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bipolar disorder.”

The memes and Twitter jokes centered around West’s recent episode may last for the moment, but mental health is a lifelong topic that should be treated with concern. And the Black community is not the only community that stigmatizes mental illness. Mental health is not biased, so while Twitter is funny, we should remember to address mental health with empathy.

Yasmeen Ludy, University of Michigan

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Yasmeen Ludy

University of Michigan
Communications and Media Studies

I am a passionate journalist and storyteller. I love anchoring three WOLV TV shows, ​Candid Conversations, NewsFeed, and EBuzz​. I have also written for the Michigan Daily and interned for WDIV Channel Local 4.

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