People

Mariah Carey speaks for the first time about having bipolar disorder

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Megan Murray
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Mariah Carey hopes to lift taboo around bipolar disorder after speaking openly about her experiences with the disorder. 

Global superstar Mariah Carey, has shared her bipolar disorder diagnosis with the world, after recently seeking treatment having had what she describes as “the hardest couple of years I’ve been through.”

This is the first time that the singer has publicly recognised and spoken about her condition, one which she has been struggling with for 17 years. 

Speaking to Jess Cagle, editor in chief of People magazine for this week’s cover interview, Carey explains that after years of being terrified someone would expose her condition, she finally decided to take control over the distribution of this information about herself.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she says in a snippet from the full interview which will be available from Friday. 

 “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 pictured at the beginning of career in 1991

People cites some of the reasons for Carey’s most recent struggles with the condition as an unstable career, her E! reality TV show and a difficult romantic relationship.

Following these strains on her mental health, Carey is now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II disorder. Carey says, “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.”

Carey has been suffering with bipolar disorder for 17 years after being diagnosed in 2001 when she was hospitalised for a physical and mental breakdown.

At first, she says she “didn’t want to believe it” and thought that the difficulty she was having sleeping was insomnia.

“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. 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.”

Carey at this year’s Golden Globes 

Mental health charity Mind describes bipolar disorder as a mental health problem that mainly effects your mood, where you may experience manic or hypomanic episodes (feeling high) and depressive episodes (feeling low), with potentially some psychotic symptoms during manic or depressed episodes.

Bipolar II disorder (which Carey suffers from) differs from bipolar I because you experience both periods of depression and periods of over-excited and manic behaviour. 

Carey has decided to speak out now about her disorder to help break taboo around the subject of bipolar disorder and mental health, and hopes to spread awareness of the condition. 

“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,” Carey says.

“It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

Images: Getty