• ebhowell

The Myth of being Creative & Being Bipolar

Kayne West’s situation is serious.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Kanye West. I even wrote a long letter begging him to seek help. Or, coaxing him because he’s in a corner looking for someone to trust.

I know what it’s like to receive a letter as a person who’s not open to help. I also know about trying to reach a celebrity in the midst of an emergency is a long shot. The letter will float around and never reach him. I wrote Jimmy Fallon after seeing him on the plane and never heard from him. My Kayne letter is a good one followed by FAQ’s about bipolar, which I think he doesn’t want to be labelled. But I find myself thinking about how to help him this morning. Tweets ask the public to be kind to Kayne and give him space, but this is a serious situation, calling for a care plan. KW needs attention to help slow-down his thoughts and make sense of everything that he’s seeing. Maybe I care too much about a guy who has too much, more than most people, not only financially but his talents and his drive to be generous to his family and his charities. He is an artist with a quiet-less mind.

Yes, I have been fixated a little too much about him because I’m a fixer and a healer in addition to being bipolar. I have been looking for the common threads in his experience and mine. The words he chose to tweet and shout-out at a political speech in South Carolina, where he hoped to gain enough support to be added to the presidential ballot, are all too familiar.

o KW spoke about Harriet Tubman at a political rally. When I was manic, I thought that I could see visions and be like a pioneer to help slaves in the woods. When stopped in the middle of the night, a cop asked my name and I said “Harriet Tubman” without missing a beat. He told me to go home because maybe he had seen other bipolars claiming they were Harriet. (Full disclosure, I am white.)

o KW vulnerably ranted about abortion in South Carolina. This is a tough one to parallel, but when I am really manic I think I’m Mary with child. I imagine that I have been chosen to have a baby when I’m not even close to being pregnant.

I even lied about being pregnant when I was hospitalized thinking that I would be treated better and given less drugs.

o KW believes his medication stifles him. I tinkered with my meds believing less would be better for my creativity and I was more “me” with less meds.

o KW goes shopping when he is manic after changing his hair. I love to have a new hair color or new look and go shopping, but especially when I am manic. It is also a stereotype of manic people, that we over-indulge, hit QVC late at night and deplete our savings. This is far from the truth. Manic shopping usually has a purpose like gathering gifts or a specific outfit for an imaginary event like a press conference.

o KW wants everyone to go away because he thinks ‘they’ will lock him up. Also shared this feeling, but I would run away in the middle of the night to escape them. Like a housecat hiding under the bed because the owner is trying to put you/ the cat in the cage to go see the vet. Manics don’t want to go the pet hospital or anywhere in that cage, you want to roam free.

o KW mentions divorcing his wife. Tweets about it. When you are really manic, your mind is filled with so many ideas and things to accomplish that simplifying your life seems logical. You also look for anyone and anything to blame who “caused” you to be in this state. I believed for a moment that it would be easier and less stressful if I “lost” my husband. I thought that I could avoid another episode. I brainstormed about exiting our marriage and moving to a fresh life without a partner. It can be easier to plot a divorce than discuss anything else like your mind.

Wife Kim, says that Kayne is “complicated.”

Yes, bipolars are complicated, but it is time to unite with a plan that he agrees to and move swiftly. He will not become less creative or less Kayne if he is treated properly. A manic episode can last for weeks and even months, so believing that “this” can be fixed through firing off tweets with one liners is cavalier. Being bipolar and managing the condition is not won by one person, it is managed through love, proper medication and directed by a team.

Kayne deserves a care plan, including:

o If Kanye hates being classified as a bipolar, seek out a diagnosis that fits what is going on, then he can be treated properly.

o See therapist regularly and make plans: goals for therapy, talk about things like how to know your limits, as well as a regular lab schedule to check medication levels and thyroid, etc.)

o Sleep

o Take the prescribed meds. Kanye needs to find a medication where he can see benefits that outweigh the side effects.

o Exercise

Finally, why care about Kanye?

· He’s a gifted bipolar influencer that can lead understanding & awareness for many people.

· Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.8% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year.

· Bipolar Disorder can be a contributing factor in job loss, divorce, substance abuse, and suicide. (

· There is a 20% lifetime risk of suicide in people with bipolar, and that risk increases with age especially if the person goes untreated for the disorder. (American Psychiatric Association)

· A person with bipolar disorder is more likely to harm or kill themselves.

E.B. HOWELL is the author of As Much as I Care to Remember, a novel based on her own experiences with bipolar disorder. Raised in Winston-Salem, NC, E.B. graduated from Furman University in Greenville, SC, and obtained her master’s in journalism and public policy at American University in Washington, DC. She moved to New York City where she assisted health organizations with patient advocacy, serving as the Scientific Communications Director of the National Kidney Foundation and as a Communication Specialist at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. The unifying thread to Howell’s career in patient advocacy is her experience generating awareness for public health issues by developing and disseminating health messaging locally and globally. E.B. currently works in healthcare and lives in Beaufort, SC, with her husband. Learn more about E.B. Howell at and on Facebook and Twitter.

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