'Like Kanye West, I was diagnosed with bipolar. But I'm on a very different path.'

I was recently asked whether I think Kanye West’s mental illness is behind his misogyny and antisemitic comments or whether they are views he would hold and spout regardless.

For context: I have lived with bipolar 1 disorder for the last 16 years. I have also previously shared my thoughts on Kanye and his bipolar disorder in this blog post and in this article on Mamamia. 

So, what do I think in 2022?

Watch: The Basics & Befriending the Beast. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

Whenever Kanye says or does anything controversial or abhorrent, articles and comments sprout like mushrooms after rain. Most of them tend to either condemn him for his behaviour regardless of his mental illness, or they cautiously tip toe around his behaviour, because he has a mental illness.

Here's where I sit:

Our behaviour is generated by many factors including (but not limited to) our personality, our experiences, and (if we live with one) symptoms of a mental illness. Untangling everything is messy and difficult.

Yes, some symptoms of mental illness can be responsible for repugnant, even criminal behaviour. For example, infanticide as a direct result of undiagnosed, untreated postnatal psychosis.

When I have experienced postnatal psychosis (as part of bipolar disorder) I’ve survived with my family intact, because I had access to early, excellent care. But during one episode, my symptoms forced me to say I didn’t know my husband and that I hadn’t had my six-day old baby. I would never say this when I am well. And once the psychosis resolved, I was able to recognise that what I had said was delusional.


With time, appropriate treatment, and psychological work I gained the insight to understand that my behaviour was due to symptoms of a mental illness. At this point (given I had access to good quality mental health care) I had the choice whether to take the steps I needed to better manage future symptoms of mymental illness...or not.

I believe when bad or inappropriate behaviour is out of character for someone who lives with a mental illness, it is likely to be due to the symptoms of that illness.

So, who is Kanye West when he is not experiencing symptoms of his mental illness?

Like most people reading this, I don’t know him, and rely on the media to form my opinion. From what I’ve read, Kanye seems to apologise sporadically for his remarks and behaviour, but he doesn’t seem to show remorse and there is evidence of Kanye’s misbehaviour long before the first mention in the media of a psychotic episode in 2016.

Over the years Kanye has stormed out of multiple awards ceremonies and marched on to the stage to interrupt those accepting awards when he’s been unhappy with the outcome. And it began before he notoriously hijacked Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 Video Music Awards. It happened at the American Music Awards in 2004, and at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2006. 

To me, this behaviour tells us something about his personality.

Moving on to his mental illness. Since Kanye’s first reported psychotic episode in 2016 and his public announcement of his bipolar disorder in 2018, he doesn’t seem to have learnt anything about the pattern or nature of his illness.


He hurtles through each bipolar episode and drags those around him and anyone who consumes the media, with him. Unlike many people who live with bipolar disorder, he can probably afford great health care, but he doesn’t appear to have the insight to recognise when he needs it.

He may also be surrounded by people who are reticent to suggest that at times his illness tears his genius to shreds, and he may disregard anyone’s attempts to help him.

He could also live with another diagnosis or diagnoses in addition to his bipolar disorder. Speculating as a lay person, I think that if he also lived with narcissistic personality disorder, it would explain a lot. It may also make it impossible for him to ever acknowledge that his bipolar disorder is not always a superpower (as he claimed in his 2018 song ‘Yikes’), but a serious illness that can cause collateral damage if it is not managed appropriately.

I have also been asked for my perspective ‘as someone who has been where Kanye is’

But I have never been where Kanye is. He and I may share a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but our experiences of it are very different.

Listen to The Spill, Kanye West And A “Dangerous Act”. Post continues below.

I am a 49-year-old white woman living in Australia. I am a small animal vet, writer, author, mental health advocate,and mother of two. My bipolar disorder was triggered by the birth of my first child in the form of post natal psychosis, when I was 32. It was diagnosed rapidly and accurately. I have had high quality continuity of care, and trust my psychiatrist implicitly, even when I am very unwell. I have insight into my illness and its symptoms, and it is well managed.


I don’t live in the unrelenting spotlight of the world’s media. I am not immune to unconscious bias but would describe myself as a pro-choice feminist who finds any form of hate speech or discrimination abhorrent. Antisemitism sickens me. The holocaust left its chilling fingerprints all over my mother’s side of my family. So far, my core beliefs have never changed during mania or psychosis. And I have never thrown a tantrum because I’ve missed out on an award.

Kanye is a 45-year-old Black man living in the US. He is a father of four, and by all accounts a brilliant rapper, musician and composer who designs clothes and expensive sneakers. He courts a high profile. His worst missteps are played out under the gleeful gaze of the world’s media.

I don’t know when and how his bipolar disorder was triggered. And I don’t know anything about his experience of psychiatric care or the mental health professionals he has or hasn’t worked with. In the past he has claimed not to take any medication to treat his bipolar disorder. Aside from taking an 11 month break from Twitter and the public after a brief hospitalisation for psychosis in 2016, Kanye appears to have done little to help himself.

I don’t believe we should ignore Kanye’s mental illness or fail to feel compassion for the negative ways it impacts his life. Bipolar disorder is challenging to live with. But the premise that we can’t condemn someone’s antisemitic, racist, misogynistic behaviour because they live with a mental illness feels fearful of cancel culture to me.


If we oversimplify this issue by putting all of Kanye’s bad behaviour down to his bipolar disorder, we risk tarring everyone who lives with bipolar disorder, who doesn’t make racist, antisemitic, ormisogynistic remarks, with the same brush as Kanye.

My guess would be his bipolar disorder is currently dialling up the volume on some of his underlying core beliefs that may have nothing to do with his bipolar disorder. Beyond that I don’t have the information or qualifications to intricately dissect out the precise origin of Kanye’s opinions and behaviour.

I feel sympathy for him because the world watches and comments while the media swoop in like vultures and appear to publish every word he utters, even when he is blatantly unwell.

But my sympathy does not excuse his racism, antisemitism, or misogyny. And I am reluctant to continue to watch or comment on the train wreck comprised of his personality, experiences, and symptoms of mental illness...unless he attempts to gain insight into, and treatment for his bipolar disorder, and shows remorse for his hate speech.

Feature Image: Getty

Anita Link is a writer, author, a mother of two, a small animal veterinarian, and a passionate mental health advocate. Her memoir ‘Abductions From My Beautiful Life’ published in April 2021 details her lived experience of Bipolar 1 Disorder and is now available on most online bookselling platforms, including Amazon, Fishpond, and Booktopia. Anita’s website is home to her blog posts (which are mostly opinion pieces relating to mental health and illness, but also cover other topics), book information, and media work.