Everything Kim and Kanye have said about Kanye's mental health

Kanye West is undoubtedly one of his generation's most influential artists, and with his mogul wife, Kim Kardashian West, by his side, the duo has spent their marriage amassing billions of dollars in wealth and raising a growing family, including their four children: North, Saint, Chicago, and Psalm. And yet, the couple has navigated turbulent waters since their wedding on May 24, 2014. Just over two years after their idyllic ceremony in Florence, Italy, Kardashian survived a terrifying robbery in Paris in October 2016, with West entering the hospital and taking a break from his music career shortly after. 

Kimye's fortunes haven't quite been the same since then, and the married pair has spoken out in the years since about West's subsequent mental illness diagnosis and his treatment. And with more shocking details emerging in July 2020, when the rapper revealed his plans to run for president and divorce his wife, it's unclear whether their union will ever recover. 

With a complicated timeline that continues to unfold, let's dive into everything this celeb couple has said about Kanye West's mental health.

Inside Kanye West's 2016 hospitalization and canceled tour

Kanye West's career hit an unfortunate speed bump in late November 2016: just before the rapper entered Los Angeles' Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, he canceled the remainder of his Saint Pablo tour, which was meant to run till the end of December. Just days before, West had abruptly canceled a concert the day after cutting another live performance short following just 30 minutes on stage.

In a statement to The New York Times, West's representative confirmed he'd entered the hospital under observation for exhaustion, with a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Fire Department telling Rolling Stone that the department responded to an "unspecified medical aid request," and that "an adult male described as medically stable was taken to an area hospital for further assessment." TMZ obtained a recording of the fire department's dispatch call, with the dispatcher referring to the incident as a "psychiatric emergency." West reportedly left the hospital after a week-long stay. 

The month before his hospitalization, West's wife, Kim Kardashian, was the victim of a harrowing robbery in Paris, with masked men entering her hotel room pretending to be police officers, tying her up, and stealing $10 million in jewelry. West, who was onstage when he learned about the Oct. 2016 robbery, cut his concert short, and rescheduled two additional dates, citing "family concerns."

Kanye West was 'addicted to opioids,' a radio host claimed

Following Kanye West's disappearance from the public eye for much of 2017, the musician made his return by firing up his previously-dormant Twitter account in April 2018. Shortly after he revisited the world of social media, a famous friend of West's claimed that he spoke to the rapper in a wide-ranging phone call, during which West reportedly admitted to struggling with addiction at the time of his 2016 hospitalization. 

Hot 97 host Ebro Darden told listeners on the April 23, 2018, episode of his Ebro in the Morning radio show that he'd spent 30 minutes on the phone with West. According to XXL, Darden said, "He went on to talk about, 'Nobody really showed love to me when I was addicted to opioids and in the hospital." While West hadn't previously spoken out about abusing opioids, he alluded to taking several prescription drugs in the lyrics of his 2016 album, The Life of Pablo, rapping, "One last thing I need to let you know / You ain't never seen nothing crazier than / This n**ga when he off his Lexaproon "FML," as well as a reference to Xanax on "No More Parties in LA": "If I knew y'all made plans, I wouldn't have popped the Xans."

The rapper later called into Darden's show to ostensibly confirm the information, telling Darden, "I love you, bro."

Kanye West called his 'mental breakdown' a 'breakthrough'

Following the rapper's outspoken return to Twitter in April 2018, Kanye West sat down with radio host Charlamagne Tha God for an interview, where he spoke out about his hospitalization a year and a half prior. "I think I'm in a stronger place than I ever was — after the breakdown, or as I like to say, the breakthrough," West said (via NME), attributing the incident to "fear, stress, control, being controlled, manipulation, like being a pawn or a chess piece in life." West added that parts of the incident "[were] fire," saying, "It was incredible, the feeling." 

West confirmed he was taking medication at this time, though he said he wasn't seeing a therapist, claiming, "I use the world as my therapist. Anyone I talk to is my therapist." Speaking about the feeling of being medicated, told Charlamagne Tha God, "It's an imperfect solution to calm me down, but there's a lot of ways to calm down." When asked whether his meds dulled his "superpower" energy, West replied, "There's power in being controlled and calm, [like] X-Men really understanding how to use his power, or Superman. That's me. Once the Kryptonite is gone, I got the confidence, anything is possible." 

Kanye West hinted at a bipolar diagnosis on his Ye album

In June 2018, Kanye West made his return to music with what he called his "Wyoming sessions." According to NME, the project saw the musician produce five short albums for himself and various other collaborators. As part of this spurt of releases, West shared his eighth album, Ye, which lyrically contained themes referring to bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that he had yet to previously share. The album's cover art also featured an image of mountains — with wife Kim Kardashian West claiming her husband took the photo himself — overlaid with the text, "I hate being bipolar it's awesome." 

The record's second song, "Yikes," is an ominous track in which West opens up about struggling with his personal demons, drug use, and bipolar disorder. The track echoes his interview with Charlamagne Tha God, during which the host asked the rapper about his "superpower." On the track's chorus, West sings, "S**t could get menacin', frightenin', find help / Sometimes I scare, myself, myself," before saying on the song's outro, "That's my bipolar s**t ... That's my superpower, ain't no disability / I'm a superhero!"

Kanye West confirmed he was diagnosed with a 'mental condition'

In his first interview amid the release of Ye, Kanye West spoke with Big Boy TV at his album's listening party in Wyoming in early June 2018. The musician confirmed that he had been "diagnosed with a mental condition," placing his diagnosis sometime between May 2016 and 2017. 

"God put that on me at age 40, I had never been diagnosed until I was like 39," West said, before reiterating the claims he made in his "Yikes" lyrics. "I think everybody [has] got something. But like I said on the album, it's not a disability, it's a superpower." Big Boy seemed to be reaching West in a positive state, with the rapper telling him, "I'm so blessed and so privileged, because think about people who that mental issues that are not Kanye West, that can't go and make [music] and make you feel like it's all good." 

West also referenced his controversial appearance on TMZ Live the previous month, where he claimed that "[slavery] sounds like a choice." Telling Big Boy that a less-famous person could have faced more serious repercussions for making those same remarks, West said, "Think about somebody that does exactly what I did at TMZ and they just do that at work, right? But then Tuesday morning they come in and lost [their] job."

Kanye West claimed he was misdiagnosed during a visit with Donald Trump

Kanye West turned heads by visiting Donald Trump in the White House for an Oval Office meeting on Oct. 11, 2018, where he confirmed that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. During his conversation with Trump, West described his treatment, telling the president, "I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was connected with a neuropsychologist that works with the athletes in the NBA and NFL. And he looked at my brain." 

West then offered contradictory information about what he believed to be a misdiagnosis, claiming of his doctor, "He said that I actually wasn't bipolar — I had sleep deprivation, which can cause dementia 10 to 20 years from now, where I wouldn't even remember my son's name."

The rapper also repeated his superhero rhetoric of the previous few months, this time in reference to his red "Make America Great Again" hat. "They tried to scare me to not wear this hat, my own friends. But this hat ... it gives me power in a way," West told POTUS. "... There was something about when I put this hat on it made me feel like Superman. You made a Superman — that's my favorite superhero — you made a Superman cape for me."

Kanye West revealed he was no longer taking medication

After the announced September 2018 release date of Kanye West's ninth album, Yandhicame and went without any new music from the rapper, he appeared on TMZ Live to give fans a status update on his career and mental health. 

"Those five albums that I dropped earlier were like superhero rehabilitation," West said, referencing the records he executive-produced as part of his "Wyoming sessions" in June 2018, including Ye, and admitting to the gossip site that he "didn't finish" Yandhi. "Now the alien Ye is fully back in mode, off of medication, working out, breathing as much fresh air as possible, thinking, doing, being himself," he added, without specifying what kind of medication he had stopped taking. However, West went on to refer to himself as a "god."

West pushed the release date to Black Friday, while teasing a potential upcoming trip to connect with his roots and record. "We have to go to what is known as Africa," he said. "I just need to go, I need to find out what it's really called, and just grab the soil and be and cook food — five meals a day so the metabolism stays up — and have my kids in the studio, and have the mic in the open, so you can hear nature while we're recording."

Kanye West claimed medication impacts his creative output

In a series of tweets in December 2018, Kanye West further confirmed he had been diagnosed with a mental disorder for which he was no longer taking medication. The rapper had previously issued several tweets criticizing fellow rapper Drake, when Ariana Grande unwittingly entering the fray. The pop star promoted her new single, "Imagine," with a since-deleted tweet referencing "grown men arguing online." 

West didn't take kindly to Grande's perceived slight, tweeting and then deleting the message, "Until you're ready to really make sure everyone's ok don't use me or this moment to promote a song." Adding that his beef with Drake had impacted his mental health, West claimed in additional tweets that he'd been off medication for six months, writing, "I cannot be on meds and make watch the throne level or dark fantasy level music," referencing two of his previous albums. 

"No one would ever choose to end up in a mental hospital and diagnosed with a mental disorder but god chose me to publicly go through this journey and it is beautiful," West went on to tweet, adding of the stigma of mental illness, "I am able to experience first hand how people who have mental health issues get written off by society. Don't listen to him cause he's crazy. He's washed cause he's crazy etc..."

Kim Kardashian said her husband was in a 'pretty good place'

Kim Kardashian West, who had previously let Kanye West do the talking about his mental health struggles, gave an update to fans on her husband's well-being in a May 2019 interview with Vogue

"I think we're in a pretty good place with it now," she said. "It is an emotional process, for sure. Right now, everything is really calm. But we can definitely feel episodes coming, and we know how to handle them." Kardashian also confirmed that West was not taking medication, saying, "For him, being on medication is not really an option, because it just changes who he is. Traveling a lot does set it off, so he doesn't travel as much as he used to. But honestly, I never want to speak for him, because I am not in his mind." 

The Keeping Up With the Kardashians star also defended herself against critics, saying that she's not responsible for patrolling her husband's views. "'What is she doing? She's not stopping him,'" Kardashian recapped the criticism. "Like it's my fault if he does or says something that they don't agree with? That's my husband. I share every opinion that I have and let him know when I think something's wrong. Or if it comes to him being in the middle of a bipolar episode, I'll do everything to be supportive and help to calm the situation."

Kanye West described embracing his bipolar diagnosis to David Letterman

Kanye West sat down with David Letterman in May 2019 for the host's Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, calling his bipolar diagnosis "a sprained brain" and comparing it to a sprained ankle. 

"What I want to say about the bipolar thing is because it has the word 'bi' in it, it has the idea of, like, split personality," West explained (via E! News). "Well, that works for me because I'm a Gemini, but when you ramp up, it expresses your personality more. You can become almost more adolescent in your expression or border into places." 

West confirmed that he'd been off medication for eight months at the time of the taping, telling the audience, "You know, if you guys want these crazy ideas, these crazy stages, this crazy music, and this crazy way of thinking, there's a chance it might come from a crazy person." He also bemoaned his hospital experience, telling Letterman, "You feel everyone wants to kill you, you pretty much don't trust everyone, and they have this moment where they handcuff you, they drug you, they put you on the bed, and they separate you from everyone you know."

Kanye West alleged Kim Kardashian tried to hospitalize him

Kanye West surprised fans by announcing a presidential bid on July 4, 2020, working to get his name on the ballot in several states and holding his first campaign rally on July 19 — which was widely panned as chaotic. In a series of tweets the following day, West lashed out at his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and his mother-in-law, Kris Jenner, claiming that Kardashian had attempted to have him involuntarily committed to a hospital. 

"Kim was trying to fly to Wyoming with a doctor to lock me up like on the movie Get Out because I cried about saving my daughters life yesterday," West wrote in a since-deleted tweet (via TMZ), mentioning a highly-publicized moment during his campaign rally, in which he broke down in tears, claiming that he and Kardashiant had almost terminated her pregnancy of their first child together, daughter North West

"They tried to fly in with 2 doctors to 51/50 me," West added (via Page Six), with "5150" referring to the code for an involuntary psychiatric hospital commitment. "Kim tried to bring a doctor to lock me up with a doctor. If I get locked up like Mandela... Ya'll will know why."

Kim Kardashian defended Kanye West, asking for privacy for their family

Following Kanye West's claims on July 20, 2020 that his wife, Kim Kardashian West, had tried to place him in an involuntary psychiatric hold, Kardashian issued an Instagram Stories statement on July 22 asking for privacy and defending her husband. 

"As many of you know, Kanye has bipolar disorder," the reality star wrote, calling the diagnosis "incredibly complicated and painful" and explaining that, "no matter how hard family and friends try," the diagnosed person must be the one to seek treatment. "He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bipolar disorder."

"Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words some times do not align with his intentions," Kardashian added. However, she did not comment on her husband's previous claims that either one of them were seeking a divorce, and instead asked "that the media and public give us the compassion and empathy that is needed so that we can get through this."

For his part, West later took to Twitter to apologize to Kardashian "for going public with something that was a private matter." He added, "I did not cover her like she has covered me. To Kim I want to say I know I hurt you. Please forgive me. Thank you for always being there for me."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).