Written by Ijeoma Unachukwu
Your mind is elastic. It learns, adapts, and changes faster than you can even process. It is more powerful than the world’s fastest, most advanced computer. Your mind is your ultimate judge, what you perceive to be true is your immediate reality. You love, connect, cry, and forget. You think, therefore you are. But what about when you are not? When it feels as if your brain just isn’t working right, you can’t focus, you can’t remember the obvious things, and everything just seems twisted. You freak out and panic and it seems like you just can’t cope. You don’t say anything, though, because above all things, you don’t want to be called the C word… Crazy. Being “crazy” automatically assumes that you don’t have a good grasp on reality and you’re not exactly “normal.” We stray from being “crazy” instead of embracing it and making our mental health a priority.
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is described as, “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Not taking time to take care of yourself mentally, relaxing, praying, meditating, can lead to greater issues, such as mental illness. There is no cure for mental illnesses, only constant treatment. It does not discriminate against race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. We don’t want to admit we are weak or anything less than the gods and goddesses of life we imagine ourselves to be. Instead, we push on for days without sleep and we stress, and eventually, we break and we fall. Making mental health a priority means taking the necessary steps to ensure that you can perform the best you can. When we don’t do this and when we make excuses for ourselves, the outcomes are not always positive.
The Kanye Case
Hip-Hop superstar Kanye West does what he wants, when he wants to and nobody can tell him no. He is what he is and he is always changing. His sound has changed drastically from College Dropout in 2003 to his most recent album Yeezus. People who don’t know the first thing about rap know him for his frustrated rants. He is always quoted talking about how people will never understand him, how he’s mentally ahead of everybody else, how he’s so brilliantly talented, and above all things, how he must be a god. Pop culture and the mass media have declared Kanye as eccentric and extremely narcissistic. He’s definitely been a bit egotistical since his debut, but his actions have taken a turn for the extreme since his mother’s death in 2007. Mr. West was on tour when she died, and some say he never really had any proper time to mourn. Could this be the source of his angry outburst? Rachel Kitsonfrom Southeast Psychology analyzed Kanye’s life and his actions and diagnosed him with a couple of the following disorders2:
- Histrionic Personality Disorder: refers to individuals who have a high need for attention and thus make loud, dramatic, and sometimes inappropriate displays or appearances; they tend to be lively, excessive, and dramatic; and crave stimulation and drama and react in exaggerated ways. These traits are sometimes considered defenses against deep feelings of inferiority and fear of being unloved or accepted.
- Identity formation: is the process through which a person comes to understand the characteristics in themselves that both set them apart as having a distinct personality but also help them affiliate with others. As Erik Erikson puts it, role confusion. Unsuccessful identity formation leads to “crisis” where an individual is constantly struggling to find him or herself into adulthood.
- God Complex:They believe that their opinions and beliefs are indisputably correct and refuse to admit error. Kanye titled a song “I am a God,” so perhaps he’s polytheistic, but some have jumped to the conclusion that this is further proof of Kanye’s egomania (in conjunction with a number of declarations he has made in interviews). Kanye seems to be exploring faith and religiosity and his own relationship with God, rather than declaring that he is actually a deity.
Of course all these diagnosis are merely objective, since Kitson is not his actual psychologist. In any case, despite all these things, Kanye’s crazy pays off. He may be suffering from role confusion, but that’s one of the reasons why he is so successful. However, there is a common theme in the life of Mr. West: problems that go unhandled manifest and can become complications later in life.
What does this mean for you and me? We are not A-list celebrities, so maybe proclaiming ourselves to be Jesus reincarnated may not be the best idea. As college students we have one of the highest risks for developing problems later in life. We study, we party hard, and we stress. We stress about today, yesterday, and tomorrow. A recent study done by the National College Health Assessment 2011 survey, 30% of college students feel so depressed it is difficult to function. A Rutgers Daily Targum Survey revealed that 45.2% of University students feel stressed a few times a week and 16.3%, daily. As students, we are on the expressway to shaping the world and we need to be ready to do so academically, physically, and mentally. So take care of your brain because the world needs you.