Before I start this, let me first say that yes, I took my meds, all 300 mg of them.
Quite frankly, none of this is new to many of you who witnessed me have my first, severe mental breakdown on Facebook 3 years ago. Ironically, this was the same time Kanye had his mental break in the fall of 2016. For those who know me, know that I believe Kanye is the greatest artist of my generation. I also know that Kanye suffers from the same mental illness that I do and that’s bipolar disorder.
And yes, as you may have noticed, this article is all about Kanye West, but it’s not what you think, actually it is far from what you think, so please let me finish.
As I scroll through my timeline, I see so many messages ranging from thank God he is now “saved” to why are people following the mentally ill to who the hell does Kanye think he is? And the reality is none of the behaviors Kanye West is displaying are unique to him or myself. You see, a lot of people who suffer from bipolar disorder along with other disorders like schizophrenia, suffer from a term called hyperreligiosity which is an “increased focus on religion or religious activity” (verywellmind.com). Just google it.
Three years ago, I had manic episodes that were centered around Christianity. I was completely out of touch with reality so I’ll just leave that little sucker right there. After reading blogs and comments from those who deal with a mental disorder, I learned that I am not the only person who went through this. Actually, over 1/3 of those with a mental disorder experience this phenomenon of hyperreligiosity. Some believe that God is out to punish them or talks to them, Satan is chasing them and making them do bad things, they are unworthy and deserve to be punished and others believe they are actually Christ. While there’s technically nothing wrong with being a religious person, those thoughts centered around religion can be very dangerous to some, especially to the mentally ill.
What we are witnessing now is a man who has turned up the notch to 100 thousand trillion in his faith walk. To his defense, he did mention in an interview from 2013 that one day he would eventually turn his music over to Christ and he did that in 2019. However, the progression of his sudden transition appears to be manic and overkill and seems like it is consuming his life. I asked my psychiatrist and counselor about this very topic before I felt compelled to write this blog. It is the quantity of something that tilts the scale from being normal to abnormal. For example, it’s okay to be depressed, but it’s not okay to be depressed every day over the course of several weeks; that becomes clinical depression that probably needs to be treated. These are just my observations and opinions as someone who suffers from the same disorder.
While some research suggests that being religious can help people combat the symptoms of mental illness, there is also strong evidence that there are negative links between religion and mental illness. And although there is no evidence that religion is associated with a mental disorder, as a person who suffers from a mental disorder, I beg to differ. To me, there is no difference between someone thinking God talks to them and those who believe they received a word from the Lord to preach. There are several people who liken the “fascination” of religion to a mental disorder like Sigmund Freud and Richard Dawkins. And honestly, after battling with my faith for the past 11 years, I wholeheartedly agree with them.
Throughout the majority of Kanye’s career, for those who listen to his music as intently as I do, he has battled with his relationship and “walk” with Christ from verses like, “I told God I’d be back in a second, man it’s so hard not to act reckless,” to “Hard to believe in God, ya nigga got killed,” to “You won’t ever be the same when you call on Jesus’ name, listen to the words I’m sayin,’ Jesus saved me, now I’m sane.” It is quite clear that Kanye has been battling some “demons” and has turned to Christ to be his sanctuary. Kanye believes that Christ saved him from insanity, but I’m pretty sure staying consistent on his medication was probably the main factor. He constantly thanks his fans for accepting him when he’s off his medication and wilds out. As a loyal fan, I’ll continue to do so because after all, we are one in the same.
Most pious people use religion as a crutch, as a savior, a guide to life, as a higher being who has saved them. But the idea that you don’t have the power to pull yourself out of a situation can be damaging to one’s self-confidence. Too often I hear people say, God cured my depression, God put food on my table, God saved me from suicide and God is the reason why I live. But the reality is you were mentally strong enough to come out of depression or seek professional help.
And I’m pretty sure you have worked to provide a home and food for yourself unless you are homeless and impoverished and receive food from food banks and welfare aid. Suicide is a very lonely dark place and I have been there too many times before, but it was the very thought that I had something to live for and people to love and those who loved me, that kept me alive through another roller coaster of mania and depression. And while I believe there is a higher power who created the universe, it is your will, perseverance and resiliency that has allowed you to conquer life. Believing that you are powerless and need some higher being to help propel you in life can be a dangerous thought especially to those who teeter back and forth about the role of religion in their life.
Honestly, I believe religion is one of the many reasons why Black people are in the state of emergency that we can’t seem to get out of. We don’t engage in war because the battle is not ours, it’s the Lord’s. We forgive and forget because Jesus has forgiven us over a trillion times, but we can forgive Amber Guyger (the oppressor) and continue to imprison Michael Vick (ourselves). We turn the other cheek while other nations fight by putting their money where their mouth is. We are waiting for a savior instead of bettering ourselves. We praise a deity that looks like our oppressors who told us we will get our riches in “heaven” while they gained their riches from the sweat off our backs. We mourn about the Black Wall Street that was brutally burnt down, but don’t realize we have invested millions in tithes that was probably enough money to finance another small country. But I digress, because I know Jesus Christ is absolutely miraculous to about 31% of the world’s population even though they have never witnessed a miracle or can prove the stories were true. It is insane to me and I once was insane myself, well technically I still am, but that’s because I’m bipolar. Not sure what excuse “normal” people have.
To say the least, I am no longer a believer. I place my faith in facts and trust myself. I thank God (not Jesus) for giving me life, granting me my gifts and allowing me to live out my purpose that I have desperately tried to find. Spirituality is about knowing thyself and religion is about social control and conquering souls.
Another danger in religion is this idea that one is better than someone else. If Jesus were really real, wouldn’t people who beg to be healthy be healed by his miraculous power especially if they go to church, pray every day, follow his commandments and tithe? Even Kanye said God is showing off with him, but we all know his talents have gotten him to his position in life otherwise everyone who follows God would be millionaires on earth. People say that God saved them from a fatal accident because it could have been them, but what about that other person who lost their life? Was your life more valuable than theirs and they deserved to die? It is all very hypocritical when you really step back and think about it.
A lot of parents are adamant about teaching religion to their children because of morality, but fail to realize you can teach your child not to kill without shoving the 10 commandments down their throats which was more than likely derived from ancient, African traditions. You never know how religion may affect someone as most mental illnesses manifest themselves later in life and are often the result of trauma usually induced by their own families. Ultimately, you should give your child the opportunity to choose their faith based on their own belief system that they will eventually develop over time. We allow children to dictate their gender, but force them to adopt our beliefs. Stop telling your children that God will save them. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be bipolar. I believe God is the Creator and allows life to run its course through imperfections and all. God will not and did not come down in human form to be human with you. God should not be delimited to a gender and persecutor expressing immature, human emotions.
Although I have denounced my love for Jesus Christ, I still rock with Kanye the same way Christians bop to money, cash, hoes after church. Whether many agree with me or not, doctors would probably agree that Kanye is displaying classic traits of hyperreligiosity and grandiose behaviors by aligning himself with Jesus Christ. But these are all the more reasons why I love Kanye West, he is so human and yet so flawed. I love being bipolar, it’s awesome. While that is a lie, the highs and lows can be both super natural, euphoric and downright depressing all at the same time. That’s the real trifecta of being bipolar. When I’m manic, I am extremely productive, yet in a depressive state, I have to figure out what reason I have to live. It’s important to make the best of your condition and not become a victim. But through it all, I am still a human being and should be able to tell you that I’m bipolar without judgment. This is no different than meeting someone and explaining your expectations or exposing your terrible decisions in choosing a parent for your child which is a reflection of you.