While discussing his music during Thursday’s wide-ranging Jimmy Kimmel Live interview, the 41-year-old rapper opened up about his mental health, and the importance of facilitating “open conversations” about it.
“I feel like you avoided this album title, I mean what it says right here on the [cover]” he said, referencing the album’s artwork, which features the words “I hate being bipolar it’s awesome.”
“I have a theory about you, tell me if this is correct, I feel like you feel like being bipolar is part of what makes you brilliant, part of what makes you you, and you embrace it,” Kimmel remarked.
“Yeah. I think that’s another one of those things where people are like, ‘How are you gonna talk about it?” West replied, before adding that he doesn’t really feel like being bipolar is about opposites for him.
“It’s not an opposite. It’s not ‘I hate being bipolar, it’s awesome.’ It’s actually, it drives more of how you really feel,” he explained. “It doesn’t do an opposite thing.”
As the conversation continued, West shared how important it is to be open about mental health, “especially with me being black.”
“We never had therapists in the black community. We never approached taking a medication,” West shared, before revealing that his late mother Donda West chose not to “fully medicate” him after he “had my first complete blackout” at the age of 5.
“I think it’s good that when I had my first complete blackout at age 5, my mom didn’t fully medicate me. Because I might have never been ‘Ye,” he remarked.
The rapper also opened up about how being bipolar has affected the way he approaches his life as a public figure.
“Like even for this interview, I knew I wanted to stay in a calm state because by the time I got to TMZ I was ramped up,” he said, referencing the explosive interview he gave in May, in which he infamously suggested that slavery is “a choice.”
While the interview generated its fair share of backlash, West went on to say that “what was awesome [about the interview] is that the world got to really experience someone in a ramped up state, and that’s when you get these comments that just shout out, almost like turrets.”
“Because you have highs and lows and when you have a high you’re on a roll, when you have a low, you’re not,” Kimmel replied.
“There’s some cases of bipolar where people go low, I’m one that goes high,” West explained, before adding that he doesn’t have extreme periods of depression.
“Oh no. Nah. Because I just say it. I’ll say it on real TV: ‘Oh I thought about killing myself,’ and then the thought is gone,” West explained.
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During an interview recorded with radio host Big Boy following West’s Wyoming listening party for the new album in June, West revealed that he was first diagnosed with a “mental condition” when he was 39.
While West didn’t clarify exactly what he had been diagnosed with, he went on to share, “But like I said on the album, it’s not a disability, it’s a superpower.”