If you follow pop culture then you've probably come across a headline or a few about Kanye West and his recent mental breakdown. Now Kanye is an unusual, out-of-the-box character to begin with.
He's known for going on tangents and causing some kind of controversy. So when it was reported a few weeks ago that he had ended a show suddenly after going on another one of his rants, then abruptly canceling the rest of his tour, people weren't surprised. They just thought it was Kanye being Kanye, myself included.
All over social media I saw people calling Kanye crazy, a lunatic, unstable etc. However, we should really call this what it really is —mental illness.
We're so skeptical as to see this for what it really is because there's a stigma around mental illness, especially in the black community.
African-Americans have long had an issue dealing with mental illness and failing to acknowledge and address it as it should be. Why you ask? Well, that's a tough question.
There's so many reasons for this kind of behavior. My personal experience has been rooted in religion. It all came down to how much and how hard you prayed and how bad —as the old folk call it — the devil was trying to get at you.
For instance, if someone around me would say they suffered from depression or might be bipolar I would always hear the phrase "well that ain't nothing but the devil, just pray." Now I'm a fairly religious person and I believe in prayer but I'm also a realest and I know that sometimes it may take a little more than just prayer.
In fact, maybe seeking help for your mental illness may just be the "blessing" you were praying for all along.
I also see black people being apprehensive about mental health issues because it is viewed as a sign of weakness. Considering our history —hell, even the types of racism we deal with today — we can't afford to be weak. God forbid we lack the same mental capacity of some of our white counterparts or may just have a tiny chemical imbalance. If we do, well then "the man" will win; and we just can't let that happen— again.
My point is that mental illness is a serious issue and it needs to be treated as such. To my fellow African-Americans, we need to break that stigma that we have about mental health and mental issues. We need to address this issue and we need to start having more and more conversations about it so that we can get comfortable with it.
Mental illness; it can happen to you too. Stop being so scared of what society may label you as and get the help you need. Stop being afraid of dealing with your demons head on. Remember we are NOT weak. We are strong, but sometimes even the strongest need help to survive.