Mariah Carey is opening up about a literal breakdown (no, not the hit song from her album Butterfly) — and how she discovered she’s bipolar. In a preview of this week’s cover story for People, the singer reveals that she’s spent the last 17 years battling bipolar disorder.
After being diagnosed in 2011 after she was hospitalized for a physical and mental breakdown, Carey says she didn’t want to believe it. “Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she says. “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.”
The Fantasy singer finally sought treatment recently after what she calls “the hardest couple of years I’ve been through.” She is now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II disorder, an illness that involves periods of depression and hypomania.
“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.”
She also says she wanted to come forward because she’s finally comfortable with her diagnosis — and she wants to help remove the stigma from mental illness. “It can be incredibly isolating,” she says. “It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”