A Thank You Letter by a Bipolar, Bipolar Rabbi, to Kanye

Dear Kanye,

I thought twice about writing this letter. Part of me said, “Alfredo, do not waste your time with this hating and ignorant person. Let him keep talking and digging his own pit.” But unfortunately, you will not be the last “Kanye,” and I will not be the last bipolar whose illness is confused with moral lacking and offensive behavior. That’s why I’m typing this blog. I write it for me and millions of mentally ill people who, again and again, must exorcise the ghost of a brain disorder feared as a lack of control and moral defect. I must clarify that we, the mentally ill, are not “Kanyes in the closet.” You are not us, and we are not you.

I must confess that you made my task extremely easy. Thank you for the opportunity to show the world what we, the mentally ill, are not. Kanye, through your despicable words and actions, you have set us free to be mentally ill. You have drawn a clear line between illness and moral decay. You have established a distinction between a diagnosis and the despicable. If there was ever any confusion between mental illness, immorality, and malice, beyond any doubt, you are living proof that prejudice and discrimination stand on their own.

You do not belong to the community of the mentally ill. You are not part of us. You have chosen your delusions and hate to become your whole persona. Unlike most of us, you no longer struggle to heal yourself and the world. You fully belong to Nazis, supremacists, and racists. Illness is not an ideology, and your nefarious ideology is your illness.

Mental illness is not hatred. Mental illness is not discrimination. Mental illness is not a closed mind. We, the mentally ill, do not recognize ourselves in you. Yes, you have a mental illness, but you have chosen to let that illness develop into hate. That’s not a symptom of your illness but your choice. More than any American, you enjoy the resources to help you at the palm of your hand. You can buy a battalion of therapists and coaches and attend five stars clinics and retreats. You can take endless time off to mediate, reassess, learn and cultivate the best in you. You are, thus, solely responsible for your predicament and demise.  

Like you, Kanye, I have done wrong. In 2013 during a month of rampant mania and the wrong medication, I impersonated a police officer. I was arrested, ridiculed by the press, fired from my job, and rightfully punished. People asked me if I was aware of my actions. My answer is that as much as I pretended to be a police officer in a state of mania, I always maintained some moral compass. I never touched anybody. Illness did not rob me of my integrity. But more importantly, after my arrest, I dedicated my life to preventing repeating my mistakes. I understand how the power of internal storms and momentary lack of control may bring the worst out of us. But when offensive behavior becomes a pattern, excuses become inexcusable. Wisdom is the art of becoming who we want to be, inspired by those precious moments of quietness. When hate becomes a full-time condition, we have crossed the line into fully incarnating that hate.

Kanye, we do not need to defend the mentally ill from you because there is a clear distinction between mental illness and illness of the soul. Irritability and lack of judgment, typical of bipolar, and discrimination and offensiveness belong to different categories. Our diagnoses are so different. That’s why you are not a cause for shame to us. You and we are the biggest oranges and apples.   

It may be that some of your creativity comes from your mania. But even in the worst cases, mania comes and goes, and we must take the reins of our lives in moments of repose. I would like to believe that faced with the choice of fame, money, a clothing line, and songs as manic blessings on one side and being a decent person on the other, most Americans would choose the latter. Kanye, it may be the time to be less brilliant and be kinder.

Kanye, even if your illness has inclined you toward your destructive path, illness and cruelty must part ways at some point. I know that because we who face a mental illness are sensitive, empathic, and compassionate. Life’s struggles have sensitized us to others’ pain. We are good people forged in the yoke of struggle. Sometimes we have pain and trauma-induced tantrums and say things we regret. I admit that. But we do not make evil our quest. We recapacitate. Above all, we are the primary victims of our excesses. We commit suicide more than killing others. We have negative thoughts about ourselves rather than blaming the world. We ruin our most precious relationships, and unlike you, we do not have the luxury of millions of Instagram followers.

Kanye, though not an excuse for your hurtful and foolish words, please take care of your illness. Still, you need as much education as therapy. You need as much healing of the soul as medicine. And you need more group therapy than public privilege.   

Is there a spark of compassion in me for you, Kanye? Yes, there is. There is a path of return for you. The gates of repentance are not closed. But that journey must not be confused with taking care of your illness. You will have to declare your moral wrongs independently of your mental condition.

Thank you, Kanye, from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for allowing me to be me without being like you. Thank you for protecting our mental illness from evil.

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