Mariah Carey shared for the first time her battle with bipolar disorder.
Although she was first diagnosed in 2001 (when she was hospitalized for a physical and mental breakdown), the superstar singer-songwriter told PEOPLE’s editor in chief Jess Cagle:
“I didn’t want to believe it,”
Mariah Carey says she finally sought treatment recently after the hardest couple of years I’ve been through”, years of professional upheaval, an E! reality show and romantic drama. She said:
“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me. 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.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder causes unpredictable shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
Those that have it often oscillate between periods of “up” behavior feeling elated and energized (known as manic episodes), and “down” periods of sadness and hopelessness (known as depressive episodes). Mariah said of the condition:
“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.”
Like a number of celebrities who have chosen to open up about their mental health issues in recent months, Carey, who is currently in therapy and taking medication, says she’s finally in a “really good place.” Now, she’s aiming to help change the widespread perception of the disorder by going public with her personal struggle.
“I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone,” she explains. “It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”
Mariah is currently recording a new studio album, and co-executive producing a scripted drama about her life for Starz.