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Kanye West Is Opening Up About Bipolar Disorder And Not Everyone Is Happy About It

On his new album, ye, Kanye calls bipolar disorder a "superpower."

Posted on June 4, 2018, at 6:14 p.m. ET

On his new album, ye, Kanye West revealed that he has bipolar disorder — a brain disorder characterized by significant changes in mood and energy, from emotional highs to devastating lows.

Larry Busacca / Getty Images

There are four different types of bipolar disorder, including bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and unspecified bipolar disorder, which includes conditions that don't fit into the other categories.

People with these disorders can have episodes that look much like depression (a different condition), including feeling sad and worried, a loss of energy, sleeping too much, and suicidal thoughts.

Unlike depression, however, people with bipolar also have episodes of mania (associated with bipolar I) or hypomania (associated with bipolar II). People experiencing mania may be more likely to engage in risky behavior, including spending money or having reckless sex, as well as have euphoria, high energy, little need for sleep, irritability, racing thoughts, rapid speech, and other symptoms. Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.

Sometimes mania can include psychosis, which is a break with reality along with hallucinations and delusions that require hospitalization.

People can also experience a mixed state that includes high and low symptoms all at once. People with bipolar disorder are at elevated risk of substance abuse and suicide, and people are often prescribed medication to help control the episodes.

Kanye's experiences with the disorder are woven into the lyrics of his new album and the album cover art itself.

Def Jam

On the track "Yikes," Kanye raps:

That's my bipolar shit, nigga, what?
That's my superpower, nigga, ain't no disability
I'm a superhero! I'm a superhero!

This line in particular is being called out by some people for glamorizing or mischaracterizing bipolar disorder.

There's concern that calling bipolar disorder a "superpower," even in the context of art, could discourage people from seeking treatment.

Look, I’m not gonna tell someone how they should feel and talk about their mental illness. But someone with Kanye’s platform glorifying bipolar disorder as a “superpower” and potentially discouraging folks from seeking treatment and help is not good

Although manic episodes can feel like a high, they're also often debilitating and the disorder can be dangerous.

Kanye's album doesnt represent bipolar disorder accurately. He describes mania as a superpower as if everyone understands the context he gives. Mania can be debilitating and its agony wondering if youre happy or manic. You cant enjoy moods.

People are also worried it could trivialize mental health.

It’s funny how bipolar disorder is actually a really serious and scary disorder but everyone is quoting Kanye like it’s something that’s trendy and cool 🤷🏻‍♀️

There's also the fact that, being a famous musician, Kanye has more access to mental health resources than the average person.

sure being bipolar is a superpower when you make millions of dollars and face little to no repercussions for the things you say/do, however normal people who are bipolar sometimes can’t sustain relationships, jobs, or normal day to day lives. but keep on glorifying it kanye

Bipolar disorder has a history of being associated with creativity, which can also trivialize the seriousness of the condition.

Hi. Bipolar disorder isn't the quirky personality trait of a genius. If you're suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder (mania/depression), seek help. As someone who, thanks to bipolar meds, hasn't been suicidal for years, trust me when I say IT CAN GET BETTER. #Kanye #ye

Other famous artists and musicians who have or have had bipolar disorder include Demi Lovato, Mariah Carey, and the late Carrie Fisher.

But there are a lot of mixed feelings. Everyone deals with mental illness differently, and some say Kanye should be able to deal with it how he wants.

Kanye has bipolar disorder and inevitably people are telling him how to deal with it. Mental health care is different for really everyone in terms of its struggle so maybe let him deal with it the way he wants to?

So some people are a little more sympathetic.

I feel like Kanye calling his bipolar disorder is kind of harmful, because as someone who suffers from mood disorders it’s more debilitating than helpful. But I also feel like my mood swings inform my creative process, so I get what he’s saying here

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 4.4% of US adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.

If you or someone you know is dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and/or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. Or you can reach suicide helplines outside the US too.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.