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Kanye West Slams Stigma About Mental Illness: ‘This Is Like a Sprained Brain’

Published by Daniel Brooks Moore on

Kanye West is continuing his stand against the stigma surrounding mental illness.

The rapper took steps towards normalizing mental health issues with the release of his latest album, Ye, last June with a cover that bore the phrase “I Hate Being Bipolar. It’s Awesome.” Now, during his appearance on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman, the 41-year-old elaborated on his condition.

“It’s a health issue that has a strong stigma on it and people are allowed to say anything about it and discriminate in any way,” he said during the interview. “This is like a sprained brain, like having a sprained ankle. And if someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not going to push on him more.”

“With us, once our brain gets to a point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse,” he continued. “They do everything possible. They got us to that point and they do everything to make it worse.”

Though West declined Letterman’s invitation to discuss his condition in a technical sense — “I’m not a doctor,” he admitted — he gave an evocative explanation of how he feels during his episodes. “I feel a heightened connection with the universe when I’m ramping up.”

RELATED: Kanye West Gets Candid About His Bipolar Diagnosis, Says at One Point He Had to Be Handcuffed

For West, this sensation soon gives way to unpleasant emotions. 

Kanye West.
Kanye West. Netflix

For West, this sensation soon gives way to unpleasant emotions. “When you’re in this state, you’re hyper-paranoid about everything,” he told Letterman. “Everyone — this is my experience, other people have different experiences — everyone now is an actor. Everything’s a conspiracy. You feel the government is putting chips in your head. You feel you’re being recorded. You feel all these things.”

“You have this moment [where] you feel everyone wants to kill you. You pretty much don’t trust anyone,” he continued.

West also described being handcuffed and separated from loved ones during treatment.

“They have this moment where they put you — they handcuff you, they drug you, they put you on the bed, and they separate you from everyone you know,” West said, according to the outlet. “That’s something that I am so happy that I experienced myself so I can start by changing that moment.”

“When you are in that state, you have to have someone you trust. It is cruel and primitive to do that,” he added.

“If you don’t take medication every day to keep you at a certain state, you have a potential to ramp up and it can take you to a point where you can even end up in the hospital. And you start acting erratic, as TMZ would put it,” West said, referencing the explosive interview he gave to TMZ in May 2018, in which he infamously suggested that slavery is “a choice.”

Following years of speculation from fans —particularly after he was hospitalized for a “psychiatric emergency” in November 2016 just after canceling his Saint Pablo tour — West seemingly confirmed that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder last summer with the release of Ye.

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian.
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. Garguibo/

In April, West’s wife Kim Kardashian West also confirmed his diagnosis in an interview with Vogue, saying the couple had reached a “pretty good place”with his mental health.

“It is an emotional process, for sure,” the 38-year-old reality mogul told Vogue. “Right now everything is really calm. But we can definitely feel episodes coming, and we know how to handle them.”

My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman premieres on Netflix Friday.



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