What Kanye's Jimmy Kimmel Interview Means to Me as a Wife to a Black, Bipolar Husband

Recently, Serena Williams and Beyoncé spoke very openly about their near-death labor experiences and the ongoing trauma surrounding their high-risk pregnancies. They spoke about how motherhood changed their bodies and about their struggles with postpartum depression (PPD). The transparency of these beautiful black women was so refreshing for me as a survivor of severe preeclampsia and PPD. The more we hear celebrities openly discuss these things, the more normal transparency becomes for the rest of us.

Later in the week, Kanye West appeared on Jimmy Kimmel to discuss his relationship with Donald Trump, his latest studio album, and his TMZ interview. Those issues aside, the openness in which he spoke about his bipolar mania was refreshing.

As the wife of a black man who struggles with the debilitating effects of bipolar disorder, I am truly thankful for Kanye’s transparency.

Listening to him open up about childhood trauma, the loss of his mother, his hospitalization and using music as therapy opens doors for other black men to know it is OK to seek treatment and to seek therapy.

So much of my husband’s mental health treatment has been shrouded in secrecy because of the stigma associated with having bipolar disorder. Black folk tend to “move in silence” when seeking treatment. The impulsiveness. The highs. The lows. The suicidal ideations. The lack of sleep. The recklessness. The hospitalizations. The self-medicating. The need for those with bipolar disorder to be able to talk about their emotions without fear of judgment.

Thank you, Yeezus; Kanye is beginning to talk about how the residual impact of bipolar disorder interrupts every aspect of his life. Thank you for talking about how Kim Kardashian and friends like John Legend continue to support his self-care. Thank Yeezus for addressing how you’re still struggling to find “the old Ye.“

In the black community, talking about mental health issues tends to be shunned; especially for black men. Black men are expected to be providers. To be the backbone of the family. To be mentally and physically strong at all times. Seeking mental health treatment is often viewed as a sign of weakness, when in fact therapy is vital to self-care. There is such a stigma in the black community surrounding mental health; this keeps our men from seeking treatment and this must come to an end. Listening to Kanye talk to Jimmy Kimmel about living our best lives, cultural expectations and how these things are impacted by his mania helps to lift the veil for those of us who love black men who are suffering in silence due to mental illness. As Kanye suggests, we must take ownership of our mental health and continue to move in love.

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