Mariah Carey Opens Up For The First Time About Living With Bipolar Disorder

by Valerie Williams
Image via Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Mariah Carey was first diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2001, and is speaking out now

In a recent interview, Mariah Carey got very real about her experiences living with bipolar II disorder, all in the name of destigmatizing mental illness and to encourage others to seek help and treatment if they need it.

Carey’s interview with People marks the first time she’s spoken out about her illness, though she was first diagnosed in 2001 following a highly publicized hospitalization for a physical and mental breakdown. “I didn’t want to believe it,” she says.

It was after what she calls “the hardest couple of years I’ve been through” in regard to her professional and romantic life that Carey decided to get help.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she reveals. “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 singer is now in therapy and on medication for bipolar II disorder, which is characterized by bouts with depression and hypomania and differs from bipolar I disorder, which can include episodes of full-blown mania, according to WebMd.

“I’m actually taking medication that seems to be pretty good. It’s not making me feel too tired or sluggish or anything like that. Finding the proper balance is what is most important,” she says.

Carey also explains that she had misdiagnosed herself for years before figuring out the real culprit for her insomnia and depression. “For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder. But it wasn’t normal insomnia and I wasn’t lying awake counting sheep.”

The chart-topping artist says her career and concerns about what she should be achieving were partly the catalyst for her periods of depression that alternated with higher moods. “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 says.

But Carey’s main reason for speaking out about how she’s managing her illness is to help others know they’re not alone — and that there’s nothing wrong with getting help. “I’m just in a really good place right now, where I’m comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder. 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.”

Twitter was quick to praise Carey for speaking out, noting what it means for such a big star to openly discuss her mental health.

Not only is her story making fans feel less alone in their mental health journey, many are reminding Carey she’s not alone either.

This about sums it up.