Mariah Carey was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001 but hasn’t talked about it until now. The Grammy-winning singer opened up to People magazine about all the years she suffered in silence and why she’s finally speaking out about her mental illness.
Roughly 17 years ago Carey was hospitalized for a physical and mental breakdown. It was then that she was diagnosed as being bipolar. For those 17 years, Carey lived in denial. “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.”
Carey started going to therapy and taking medications for bipolar II disorder. Carey says that the medication she is on doesn’t make her feel groggy. “Finding the proper balance is what is most important,” she says.
Bipolar disorder is categorized into two groups, bipolar I and bipolar II. The difference between the two is the severity of the manic episodes the person has. Bipolar I means the person has manic episodes and bipolar II means they have hypomanic episodes, which are less intense than regular mania.
Carey’s bipolar goes from episodes of depression to episodes of hypomania. Hypomania causes hyperactivity, irritability and sleeplessness. “For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder,” Carey states. “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.”
She decided to come forward about her mental illness to help erase the stigma that is associated with having bipolar. “I’m just in a really good place right now, where I’m comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder,” Carey continues. “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.”