Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are getting a divorce, but is it fair to vilify him?

They’ve been on the rocks for years, but now Kim has hired divorce lawyer Laura Wasser and Kanye is rumoured to have hooked up with Jeffree Star.  The question is, should we point the blame at Kanye? Faye James looks into the matter at hand. 

With their tumultuous relationship, divorce rumours have often plagued Kimye, yet when the tabloids claimed Kim was in talks with a celeb divorce lawyer last week, it looked like their split was imminent.

The drama spiralled when TikTok stars Cole Carrigan and Ava Louise suggested Kimye’s split was because of Kanye’s rumoured hook up with Jeffree Star.

In addition to his support of disgraced President Donald Trump (until very recently), wild interviews with the press, and his, ahem, rather large ego, let’s just say the public’s view of him hasn’t been favourable.

But before we judge, there’s one matter that needs to be considered which according to reports, is the real reason for the couple’s split. Kanye suffers from mental health issues, specifically bipolar disorder, which in singer Halsey’s words is “no joke”.

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Exercising compassion

After revealing her decade-long struggle for the disease, she asked for compassion towards Kanye.

“A lot of people you know probably have bipolar disorder and you aren’t aware of it. Taking this opportunity to make offensive remarks and vilify people with mental illnesses is really not the way to go,” she tweeted after one of Kanye’s episodes.

In fact, experts agree it’s important for people to understand just how much it can affect a relationship.

“Bipolar disorder can have a huge impact on a relationship because the symptoms are serious and also because the sufferer is not likely to accept their diagnosis, especially during a manic phase,” says Dan Auerbach, relationship counsellor with Associated Relationship & Marriage Counsellors Sydney.

“It gets more complicated again because one of the frontline treatments for significant bipolar episodes is medication, but some sufferers find the treatment blunts their emotions and so they feel it has robbed them somewhat of their personality.

Manic episodes

“When they’ve experienced the highs of bipolar some people are reluctant to give that up,” Auerbach adds.

“During manic phases, people can experience massive bursts of creativity and energy and long term they can come to identify those experiences as an essential part of their personality.”

And, in Kayne’s case, you may be able to remember the time when he wanted to run for president and claimed Kim was trying to “bring in a doctor” and “lock me up”.

His episodes began to spiral further and many fans began to question his mental health. Indeed in 2019, Kayne did admit in an interview with David Letterman that he feels a “higher connection with the universe” when he’s “ramping up” and said his brain was like a sprained ankle.

“If someone has a sprained ankle, you’re not gonna push on him more,” he described.

“With us, once our brain gets to the point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse.”

Relationship challenges

According to Noosha Anzab, a clinical psychotherapist and psychologist at Lysn, bipolar disorder can have significant ramifications in a relationship.

“Someone suffering from bipolar can find it tricky navigating a relationship sometimes as they will often experience dramatic alterations in their mood. Not only is this challenging for the individual who suffers from the disorder, but also for their family, friends and caregivers,” she says.

“On top of this, someone suffering from bipolar will experience extreme high and lows, changes in their energy levels, sleep disruption, and a range of other behaviour patterns that can directly affect those around them.”

She adds: “The illness can be confusing because while many people with bipolar disorder may remain symptom-free for periods of time, their symptoms can return at any time. This can cause sufferers to become anxious during these symptom-free periods, as they are unsure of when their next episode might occur.”

In Kim’s case, Auerbach suggests that the problems could lie in getting Kanye to agree to treatment.

“If a partner supporting someone with bipolar is suffering in the relationship, we encourage them to make their experience really clear for their partner,” he says.

“As bipolar often leads to significant disinhibition in the manic phase, it can lead to promiscuity, overspending, gambling, extreme out of character behaviour and so on, so we hear partners saying things like, ‘I want to be with you but you are not you when you are not taking your medication, so I won’t be here for that unless you make a commitment to taking it’.”

Noosha adds that the important thing to remember when it comes to bipolar is that the person is suffering from an illness that they have little control over.

“When they are experiencing an episode, it is not them talking, it is the illness,” she says.

With that in mind, maybe we need to be a little kinder in our judgement towards Kanye and not in this instance see him as the villain?

If you or someone you know needs information or help regarding mental health issues, contact Mental Health Australia.

You can also contact Beyond Blue for information via their website or 1300 22 46 36.