Kim Kardashian West took to social media this week to ask for compassion as she tries to help her husband, rapper Kanye West deal with his bi-polar. Her candour while talking of a frequently misunderstood mental illness on a public platform should be noted by everyone
When it comes to scrutinising public figures, some say they bring it on themselves. Some would definitely say this when talking of The Kardashians, who sought fame and their own variation of worldwide notoriety very early on. They knew what this type of exposure would bring.
And yet, public figures or not, The Kardashian clan, despite their millions of dollars, have not had it easy – having your every move scrutinised, even if you sought the attention originally is no easy thing to bear. Weddings, separations, children, affairs, every aspect of their lives we have seen play out on a public stage. Often their narrative is heavily curated. And at times, the tabloids just take it and run with it.
The past week has seen a particularly difficult series of articles detailing the personal lives of Kim Kardashian and her husband Kanye West come to light. Kim Kardashian West has spoken for the first time about her husband rapper Kanye West’s bi-polar disorder after a string of concerning tweets posted by the rapper came to light.
He spoke of white supremacy, divorce and other issues before Kim crafted an emphatic response after the media went to town on the rapper. He has spoken (more than once) of repeated intentions to run for US presidency, among more claims regarding his daughter North, which made concerning reading.
"His 'Twitter rants' were likely an indication of something much deeper going on, which those looking from the outside will never truly understand"
Kardashian quickly removed the Instagram story but not before it went viral. Her response was dignified and compassionate – two things that frequently can go amiss these days, particularly when it comes to critics talking of mental illness. Living with and caring for those closest to you struggling with mental illness is tough, complicated and like much in life, ebbs and flows. What they need is support, as opposed to a media mob.
"As many of you know, Kanye has bi-polar disorder. Anyone who has this or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand," Kim wrote on Instagram. "I’ve never spoken publicly about how this has affected us at home because I am very protective of our children and Kanye’s right to privacy when it comes to his health.
“But today, I feel like I should comment on it because of the stigma and misconceptions about mental health. Those that understand mental illness or even compulsive behaviour know that the family is powerless unless the member is a minor.
“People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual themselves have to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard family and friends try.”
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"I understand Kanye is subject to criticism because he is a public figure and his actions at times can cause strong opinions and emotions," she continued. "He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words some times do not align with his intentions.
"We as a society talk about giving grace to the issue of mental health as a whole, however, we should also give it to the individuals who are living with it in times when they need it the most. I kindly ask that the media and public give us the compassion and empathy that is needed so that we can get through this."
To the outsiders looking in, Kanye West's behaviour tends to be reported on as odd, erratic, the sign of a famous figure with a public platform and yearning for attention, so say the tabloids. What was noticeably absent from the press coverage of late was any inkling to West's mental health – it has been known for some time he has struggled with this. It makes sense that this would prompt his wife to say the above.
His 'Twitter rants' were likely an indication of something much deeper going on, which those looking from the outside will never truly understand. Mental illness is a hugely individual experience and, as his wife has said, deserves our empathy and compassion.
The shaming of those struggling must stop.
Main photograph: @KimKardashian
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