Kanye West wants to help fans understand what's going on inside his brain. In a new clip from Season 2 of Netflix's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, West opened up about his mental health with David Letterman, explaining it in a way that he hopes even those who don't struggle with mental health issues will relate to. And more importantly, his explanation will show everyone that mental health needs to be taken as seriously as any other medical issue.
In the new season of Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, which starts streaming May 31, the host asked West, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, to "define" what that means. And while West said he couldn't explain the disorder in medical terms, he did find a way to explain how it feels for him to be bipolar.
"I feel a heightened connection with the universe when I'm ramping up," West said. In the episode, he explained to Letterman that "ramping up" is what happens when he doesn't take his medication regularly. The medication stabilizes him and without it his behavior can become erratic, "as TMZ would put it," he joked. But in all seriousness, it could result in hospitalization, which is why West explained to Letterman and the audience that mental health is a health issue that needs to be taken more seriously than it often is.
"This," he said in the clip pointing to his head, "is like a sprained brain like having a sprained ankle. If someone has a sprained ankle you're not going to push on him more." But, West feels as if people don't offer that same courtesy to those dealing with mental health issues. In fact, he said, "people do everything to make it worse."
As West told Letterman in the episode, he's trying to help people understand what being bipolar really means, sometimes even taking a lighthearted approach to doing so. That's how he would describe his decision to include the words, "I hate being bi-polar, it's awesome," on the cover of his last album Ye, a phrase he says he saw on Instagram.
"But it's kind of not accurate," West told Letterman, "'cause actually when I ramp up. I go high." For him, he explained, bipolar disorder is almost like having a "split personality" but when ramping up, "it expresses your personality more. You can become almost adolescent in your expression" or "hyper-paranoid about everything."
West was quick to say that this is his "specific experience" with bipolar disorder, which he was diagnosed with two years ago. Over the course of that time, West has said many frustrating things, but his decision to speak openly about his mental health has never been one of them. Especially knowing how it could encourage those struggling with their mental health to seek help. In 2018, West discussed the need for greater mental health awareness with Charlemagne Tha God, saying he "want[ed] to change the stigma of mental health."
West's keeping his promise by continuing to have these necessary mental health conversations in the public eye. Now, he's hoping once again people will really listen to him and give him and anyone else living with mental health issues the support they need.
If you or someone you know is seeking help for mental health concerns, visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) website, or call 1-800-950-NAMI(6264). For confidential treatment referrals, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website, or call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP(4357). In an emergency, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) or call 911.