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It's unsurprising that as the #FreeBritney movement picks up speed people are drawing comparisons between Britney Spears and Kanye West – two very famous people who have both suffered mental breakdowns, but with two very different outcomes.
In Britney's case, she suffered a very public breakdown in 2007 where she shaved her head, was then checked into a psychiatric hospital, and soon after lost many of her rights due to the conservatorship she's been under for the last 12 years. Initially, that conservatorship was meant to last just a weekend while Britney recovered in hospital.
The press wasn't exactly sympathetic towards Britney during her breakdown, and with her conservatorship still in place, it seems the state still doesn’t consider her to have fully recovered from this time.
In California, where Britney’s guardianship was decided upon, a conservatorship is a legal guardianship where a representative is appointed when a court agrees that an individual cannot make their own decisions. It requires her conservator to sign off on every single major decision she makes – these are normally reserved for the seriously ill, elderly or mentally disabled.
Until September last year, her father Jamie Spears was the appointed conservator before a care manager was temporarily appointed.
Because of the conservatorship, Britney is not allowed to make decisions about her business, her health, voting, marriage and more. She's not even allowed to drive a car.
This breakdown occurred after his wife Kim Kardashian West was tied up in her Paris hotel and robbed, while he was thousands of kilometres away in the US.
The experience left him shaken and paranoid and according to the publication, he was "completely freaked out".
Kanye reportedly "hadn't slept in about a week" and was exhibiting "aggressive and terrifying outbursts" before being taken to hospital.
The rapper, however, calls his stint in the hospital a "breakthrough" not a "breakdown".
And while no one should be denied following their dreams just because of certain mental health conditions, it seems as though Kanye has been able to bounce back a lot more effortlessly than Britney.
Somehow, Kanye is now in the running to be president of the United States, while Britney is still unable to spend her own money without permission.
Britney vs Kanye
Many Britney fans have taken to social media to show the differences in how the two have been treated after their breakdowns with many pointing out that a gender imbalance is likely at play. Why is a mentally ill woman stripped of her rights while a mentally ill man is allowed to remain in full control?
One user wrote, "Britney Spears goes through a mental health crisis publicly and she loses her rights. Kanye West goes through a mental health crisis publicly and he runs for president. #FreeBritney."
Another added, "It’s weird how Britney Spears has a mental health crisis and gets put into a 10-year conservatorship and loses custody of her kids and Kanye West has a mental health crisis and gets a GAP deal and runs for president."
Someone else said, "Kanye West has displayed far more destructive [behaviour] than Britney Spears on her worst day. His family: 'Sure, you should run for president. Think of the ratings.' Her family: 'Let’s go to court and see if we can take away your ability to eat unsupervised.' #FreeBritney."
"If Kanye West can run for president, Britney Spears should be able to hire a lawyer for herself," another wrote.
Another user said, "A man has a mental breakdown, he runs for president. A woman has a mental breakdown, she’s stripped of all basic rights. Kanye’s a joke and #FreeBritney. I hate Hollywood."
"Why is Britney still being shamed for what she went though in 2007?! No one ever brings up what Justin Bieber, Charlie Sheen, Kanye West, and other men did in their past. Why is she under a conservatorship and not these other men who did a lot worse than she did #FreeBritney," someone else added.
What we know about Kanye's mental health
Kanye's own family is reportedly "very concerned" for him with reports suggesting he's "in the middle of a serious bipolar episode".
According to TMZ, Kanye suffers from a serious bipolar episode approximately once a year and his decision-making abilities are hindered.
"Our sources say his family and those close to him are worried, but they believe things will stabilize as they have in the past,” the publication wrote.
"The problem here, is that Kanye's proclamations are causing problems."
Those problems the website was referring to include an interview Kanye did with Forbes where he slammed Planned Parenthood, saying it's run by "white supremacists who do the Devil's work". Unsurprisingly, these comments have drawn widespread criticism.
"I am pro-life because I'm following the word of the Bible,” Kanye said.
During his first rally for his last-minute presidential campaign, Kanye denounced abortion, swore, called on random audience members to speak, and occasionally seemed to be putting forward policy proposals on the fly.
He referred to the Bible multiple times, saying “The only thing that can free us is by obeying the rules that were given to us for a promised land.”
He then grew even more emotional and nearly incoherent, as he revealed that he and wife Kim considered not having their first child, North West.
“She said she was pregnant, and for one month, and two months, and three months, we talked about her not having this child. She had the pills in her hand. When you take the pills, and if you take it, the baby’s gone,” he continued.
He then said he ‘got a message’ from God while in Paris: ‘If you f*** with my vision, I’m going to f*** with yours.’
“And I called my wife and she said, ‘We’re gonna have this baby.’ I said, ‘We’re gonna have this child. I know people that are 50 years old that didn’t have children, that have never been able to experience the level of joy that I experienced having a child,” he said.
“So even if my wife were to divorce me after this speech, she brought North into the world, even when I didn’t want to. She stood up and she protected that child.”
Still crying, he described how he was nearly aborted by his own parents.
“You know who else protected a child? Who do you think might have protected a child? My mum saved my life. My dad wanted to abort me. My mum saved my life. There would have been no Kanye West, because my dad was too busy!”
He argued that abortion should be legal but heavily discouraged, suggesting he would promote a policy as president that anyone who gives birth to a child be given $US1 million “or something in that family”.
In 2018, Kanye spoke to David Letterman about his bipolar diagnosis, saying he doesn't take his medication because it "stifles [his] creativity".
He also said that he feels discriminated against because of his mental health issues.
"I can just tell you what I'm feeling at the time. I feel a heightened connection with the universe when I'm ramping up.
"It's a health issue, this is a sprained brain, like a sprained ankle. When someone has a sprained ankle, you're not going to push on him more. With us, once our brain gets to a point of spraining, people do everything to make it worse.
"They do everything possible. They got us to that point and they do everything to make it worse."
At times, Kanye will experience periods of severe mania where he feels hyper-paranoia and believes everyone is out to get him.
We all know how he reacted in 2009 when Taylor Swift won the MTV VMA over Beyonce – imagine how he might react to more serious issues as president.
What do we know about what happened to Britney?
Britney, meanwhile, has rarely spoken about her situation or conservatorship.
In 2008, shortly after the conservatorship had been agreed upon, she made a rare public announcement about the situation.
“I feel it’s too in control,” she told MTV at the time. "If I wasn’t under the restraints I’m under, I’d feel so liberated."
"There’s no excitement, there’s no passion," she said, adding, "Even when you go to jail, you know there’s the time when you’re going to get out. But in this situation, it’s never-ending."
Since then, she's revealed very little about the arrangement.
While she's been under the conservatorship, it's believed that she hasn't been mentally well enough to take care of herself, yet she has worked steadily over these last 12 years.
Instagram account Dirty 2000s shared a post that summarised the entire #FreeBritney movement.
They wrote that in 2007 Jamie petitioned the courts to be a temporary conservator until she was mentally stable, however, not long after being hospitalised she appeared on How I Met Your Mother, dropped the video for Womanizer and promoted her new album Circus.
Since then she toured and even had a residency in Las Vegas where she performed from 2013 to 2015.
"If she's so unwell, why did she start working right away?" they questioned.
They added that even her social media and phone use is monitored.
The post also says that Britney was placed in that mental health facility last year because she was seen driving her car without permission and for refusing to take sedating medication.
"She testified to a judge in documents that she was held there against her will by her father," it said.
Britney was meant to begin her Domination residency in 2019, but this was reportedly cancelled by her father when Britney refused to take medication.
A former member of the singer's legal team, who had quit a few weeks earlier, revealed this information on the podcast Britney's Gram.
At the time the singer claimed she needed to take care of her ill father, but the unnamed lawyer revealed she'd been kept in a facility since January, and not April as it had previously been reported.
Britney claimed on social media that the reason the show had been cancelled was because her father "was hospitalised and almost died".
As of the last court review, the date on Britney's conservatorship has been extended until at least August 22, 2020, which is why fans are more vocal about the #FreeBritney movement than ever before.