“… it almost seems like all these things were sent to put me on meds…I use the world as my therapist. Anyone I talk to is my therapist. I will pull them into the conversation of what I’m feeling at that point. I’ll talk through things…I want to change to stigma of ‘crazy’. I want to change the stigma of mental health, period.” — Kanye West
Currently, you’ll find Kanye hosting Sunday Service in Calabasas, CA.
Ye’ is living his best life in the path of bipolar, and defying odds of stereotypes tied to the mental illness.
Over the past few years, many of us have witnessed what we’d call Kanye’s highs and lows, and breakdowns and belligerencies…
One thing for sure is his “aftermath” left many of us talking about him, questioning his mental health…and his next move; wondering how much longer his “media antics” would continue. Or were his outbursts really just a form of self-expression, and not antics for attention?
I feel this question was answered after I attended a mental health forum called Yikes The Stigma Is Real: a hip-hop influenced conversation about mental health; the brown community; and healthy ways to cope and live our best lives — facilitated by licensed professional counselor, Ashley Cullen-Williams.
Truthfully, I was kind of apprehensive about attending this workshop. I didn’t want to be emotional. It was the words mental health and therapy that created my brief moment of anxiety.
Why? — I recall going to church earlier in my life, believing that fasting, praying, and “laying it on the alter” were the only sources of therapy in my community— the black community.
I’ll be more straightforward to say that many of us were taught that this was the only form of therapy and healing to help with life’s issues of trauma, fear, hurt, pain, and other emotional/mental battles we faced. If you chose therapy as a black person, your fellow black folks thought ‘you were crazy’ because you were in therapy.
The worrisome part about avoiding therapy, or some form of healing consultation, is the potential to suffer from depression and other mental illnesses as a result of not dealing with suppressed and unaddressed issues.
Attending Williams’ workshop added more to my understanding about the levels of mental health issues we should recognize and how they are expressed with its connection between genetics, triggers, and trauma.
Williams’ use of a non-traditional presentation to teach her audience was one that I’d never experienced before, and appreciated — an annotated presentation of Kanye West’s lyrics from his songs: I Thought About Killing You, Yikes, and Ghostown.
Since I am a lover of music, Williams’ approach encouraged me to be empathetic in a healthy way and opened my mind to learn more about Kanye — the black man who fought himself and considered suicide, and how he managed pressures of the everyday world — beyond the celebrity world; The black man who still hurts from the loss of his mother, and is also a talented, hard-worker that provides for and protects his family; The creative black man who earned his right to be in the opportunity ranks of his peers, though many don’t accept him because he is black. Judging him.
After Williams presented what I’d like to describe as Kanye’s “open diary”, it was clear that Kanye’s experiences were the same of the common, everyday black man affected by life’s challenges — trying to fit in. His celebrity platform was and still is his canvas — which he’s never been afraid to be colorful with his admission of wins, failures, and faults, and share them with the world. Whether “his people” will agree or disagree; whether his controversial stances and opinions are temporary or permanent, he’s openly allowed himself to live in his truth of sanity and mental illness at the same time, and share it with the supporters…and spectators. He is an advocate for creating more sensitivity and awareness surrounding mental health.
Ashley Cullen-Williams’ efforts to co-mingle the traditional theories, definitions, and non traditional exercises of therapy, while using active examples from Kanye’s words of life allowed me to understand the manic, impulsive, wavering, and consistent facets of mental illnesses we see in various black and brown communities everyday.
To experience non-traditional, effective therapy with Ashley Cullen-Williams, please feel refer to the information below, and go visit my Instagram page @ratedransom to view the event gallery and experience snippets of the Yikes! mental health forum.
Photo Credits: Google Images, Center For Discovery, Apple Music