Kanye West Gets Candid About Bipolar Disorder, the "Stigma of Crazy"

Grammy winner opens up about mental health with David Letterman

By Jess Cohen May 28, 2019 4:59 PMTags

Kanye West is speaking out about his mental health journey.

The Grammy winner, who was hospitalized back in 2016, opens up about bipolar disorder during a candid new interview on David Letterman's Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. During the episode, airing May 31, West talks about his diagnosis and explains the journey he's been on over the past few years.

"What I want to say about the bipolar thing is because it has the word 'bi' in it, it has the idea of, like, split personality. Well, that works for me because I'm a Gemini, but when you ramp up, it expresses your personality more," the "Stronger" rapper tells Letterman. "You can become almost more adolescent in your expression or border into places. This is my specific experience that I've had over the past two years, because I've only been diagnosed for two years now."

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"There's no dumb easy way to explain, it's just something that you know we're going to have to take time to understand," West continues. "There's things where you would've just locked your—you know, a hundred years ago they may have locked your uncle in the room..."

The 41-year-old star goes on to share, "I'm starting to research these things because the experience of when you go through an episode, if you actually go to the hospital, there's a moment that I have to talk about publicly that has to be changed. So, I'm gonna talk about this publicly so this moment can change. So, when you're in this state, you're hyper-paranoid about everything. Everyone. This is my experience. Some people have other experiences. Everyone now is an actor. Everything is a conspiracy. You see everything. You feel the government is putting chips in your head. You feel you're being recorded. You feel all of these things."

"And you get taken, and you have this moment. You feel everyone wants to kill you," West says. "You pretty much don't trust anyone, and 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. They don't do that to pregnant women. 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."

"Here's another one that they love to do when you get the stigma of crazy. They love to write you off," he tells Letterman. "They love to cut your sentences off halfway. What you say doesn't mean as much. Sometimes, for me, I think it's a form of protection for me, because if I'm peeping something that people don't want me to think about or know as a celebrity, 'Oh, he's just crazy,' and then I go home. If they didn't think I was crazy, it may be a problem."

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When asked if his creative juices suffer, West says, "Oh yeah, that's just the reality. You know, if you guys want these crazy ideas and these crazy stages, this crazy music and this crazy way of thinking, there's a chance it might come from a crazy person. [Laughs]"

The second season of My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman premieres Friday, May 31, on Netflix.