After years of denial, the music icon says she is now on medication.
Mariah Carey has broken her silence on her bipolar disorder for the first time since she was diagnosed in 2001.
"I didn't want to believe it," the singer told People magazine for this week's cover story, and added she didn't seek treatment until after "the hardest couple of years I’ve been through."
"Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me," Carey said. "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."
Carey was diagnosed with bipolar II nearly two decades ago after going to the hospital for a physical and mental breakdown. After years of denial, she's finally "taking medication that seems to be pretty good," she said. The mental disorder is similar to bipolar I, with moods cycling between high and low over time, but the "up" moods never reach full-blown mania, and depression is more common. It is estimated that 2.4 percent of the U.S. population (about 6 million people) suffers from some form of bipolar disorder.
"For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder," Carey explained. "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."
So why is she opening up about it now, after all these years?
"I’m just in a really good place right now, where I’m comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder," she told People. "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."