Bipolar and Pop Culture

By Abigail Fowler
Contributing Columnist

Kanye West has been in the media a lot along with the bad atmosphere he has created for his family. As someone who has openly discussed his bipolar, this sheds a bit of a bad light for anyone who suffers from the same mental health issues. 

As someone who has bipolar 2, anxiety, and PTSD I want to pause for a moment to let you who suffer in silence understand that you do not have to turn out like Kanye simply because of something you’re born with or gained through a traumatic experience. 

Everyone with bipolar and PTSD has a phase I like to call the “mean reds” (thank you “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”). It can sometimes lead to suicide (Kate Spade- bipolar) and addiction (Gwenyth Paltrow, Robert Downey Junior, Demi Lavato- all have bipolar). 

Others have handled it through pushing people away who are triggering and therapy (Selena Gomez came out about her bipolar during the pandemic). 

I don’t know and won’t speculate what Kanye’s full diagnosis is, if he is a narcissist, or whether he is on meds. So let’s stop speculating there. 

What he is doing is horrendous and inexcusable. 

Let me repeat: What he is doing is horrendous and inexcusable.

This is not me excusing this. As an abusive relationship survivor myself, it’s triggering from both perspectives.

For everyone with bipolar and PTSD I want you to know: YOU HAVE OPTIONS DURING YOUR MEAN REDS AND WILL NOT TURN INTO KANYE. 

For a while I suffered my mean reds in silence which made them and the eventual implosion worse. 

The ways I’ve found to fix them openly without ruining other people’s lives include:

1. Having a therapist that you like. Don’t just find a therapist that is cheap. Take your time to shop.

2. If your mean reds are directed at someone and you’ve tried blocking them but the manic takes over and unblocks (you feel like the Hulk I know- it’s okay), explain the situation and ask for a block from them. 

If they keep blocking and unblocking you even though you’ve requested a full block: either they have a savior complex or they genuinely love you. 

Both of those are not good during your mean reds so give them a time frame of when they can unblock you so there’s no further relationship damage. 

3. You can strive to be a Kanye or a Selena Gomez. Choose carefully. 

4. If you tell someone your boundaries and needs during a mean red and they don’t respect them or don’t actually listen and continue to do what they want, they are making your life unnecessarily toxic. “Good intentions” that are focused on THEIR benefit and glory, but not your struggle and help is what I call a “Gaston complex.” Another term depending on the circumstance could be “enabling.”

5. Mental health is an explanation. Not an excuse. 

6. Everyone’s trauma and bipolar is different, but I have noticed from mine that if I stay a goody-two-shoes, the manic isn’t bad. If I stray a little (or get traumatized in an unexpectedly cruel way), it expands my inability to discern lines crossed during mean reds/hulk phases. 

Kanye hasn’t kept the best company and this is the result of what he thinks is normal during a mean red. I will say this twice for emphasis: pick your circles with the utmost caution; pick your circles with the utmost caution. 

Here are main takeaways for you amazing people who are suffering and confused right now with the media tirade:

1. You are not insane like Kanye simply because you have a mental health disorder.

2. You do have a greater responsibility to analyze and perfect your emotional management. This is the example of what happens when you don’t. 

3. Give people guidelines on how they can help you even if you need them to go away for a bit while you sort things out. Relationships ebb and flow. You can have a solid relationship even if you’re purposefully and mutually agreed on being a part for a bit. But if they refuse to take your request, question their motive and do everything in your power to get the break you deserve. 

4. Be Selena Gomez. Do not be Kate Spade or Kanye. Your loved ones will suffer the most.

Categories: Voices

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