Mariah Carey is famously outspoken—just look at the whole “I don’t know her” story for proof—but she’s opening up in a new way in this week’s issue of People magazine, revealing that she has bipolar II disorder.
The singer says she was first diagnosed in 2001 but, “I didn’t want to believe it.” Eventually, she sought treatment after “the hardest couple of years” she’s been through. “Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she tells People. “It was too heavy a burden to carry, and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me, and I got back to doing what I love—writing songs and making music.”
— Mariah Carey (@MariahCarey) April 11, 2018
Now, she says, she’s in therapy and taking medications for bipolar II disorder, which the National Institutes of Mental Health defines as a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes. Hypomania, according to NIMH, can cause sleeplessness, irritability, and hyperactivity.
“For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder,” Carey says. “But it wasn’t normal insomnia, and I wasn’t lying awake counting sheep. I was working and working and working…. I was irritable and in constant fear of letting people down. It turns out that I was experiencing a form of mania. Eventually, I would just hit a wall. I guess my depressive episodes were characterized by having very low energy. I would feel so lonely and sad—even guilty that I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing for my career.”
As for why she’s speaking out now? She wants to help others and remove some of the misconceptions about mental illness. “I’m just in a really good place right now, where I’m comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder,” she explains. “I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you, and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”