With eighteen No. 1 hit songs, a “diva” reputation, which she proudly owns, and a Guinness World Records holder for having hit the highest note in the history of recorded music, Mariah Carey is an artist known for her brazen voice. Yet, in a recent interview, the songstress opened up about how she has kept quiet about a very personal issue for years.
In a profile piece for People magazine, Carey revealed that for years she has lived with bipolar II disorder, a mental illness that causes her to experience periods of depression as well as hypomania.
Carey’s diagnosis dates back to 2001, when she experienced an extremely publicized “breakdown.”
CREDIT: @mariahcarey / Instagram
In late July of 2001, the part-Venezuelan singer’s rep’s explained that she had been hospitalized for “extreme exhaustion” after she had displayed off behavior in a series of public events. Days before her admission to a hospital, Carey, who had been on a promotion tour for her film “Glitter” and its soundtrack, made an impromptu appearance on “TRL,” catching the show’s host Carson Daley off guard. She walked on to the stage pushing an ice cream cart and later performed a light “striptease.”
Acknowledging her strange behavior, Carey ranted to Carson during live recording “Ice cream is important, you know what I’m saying? You could have drama all day long. Whatever, we all do these things, but the problem is if you don’t’ have ice cream in your life, sometimes you might just go a little bit crazy and I’m not doing that. Do you guys like my shirt?”
A week after her hospitalization, her publicist told media outlets that she was under psychiatric care after Carey had experienced an “emotional and physical breakdown.” All of her scheduled public appearances were canceled. At the time, MTV News reported that Carey had told them in an interview just before her breakdown that her busy schedule was deeply affecting her. “I’m honestly really, really delirious and stressed out and overworked and doing too much,” she said. “I haven’t slept in like two weeks, and that’s an important detail for you to know.”
In her interview with People, Carey explained that for a while she chalked up her symptoms to a sleep disorder.
CREDIT: @mariahcarey / Instagram
“But it wasn’t normal insomnia, and I wasn’t lying awake counting sheep,” she said. “I was irritable and in constant fear of letting people down. It turns out that I was experiencing a form of mania.”
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder characterized by atypical shifts in mood and energy. The illness is distinguished by “up” and “down,” or manic and depressed, phases. For Carey, her bipolar II disorder symptoms are less severe than the ones associated with bipolar I, which carries symptoms that are so extreme they can last for at least a week and be severe enough to require hospitalization.
In her interview, Carey explained that in her manic phases she tended to overwork herself and experience insomnia, which is a common effect of manic episodes. These mood swings, Carey explained, often left her feeling “lonely” and “guilty.”
Carey’s decision to come forward about her health stems from a desire to end the stigma attached to mental illness.
CREDIT: @mariahcarey/ Instagram
Mental illnesses have long been shrouded with stigmas and caused many who experience bipolar disorder to feel shame, guilt or inadequacy. Fortunately, Carey sees the many disadvantages to the inaccurate and harmful beliefs around mental illness and is using her platform to quash them as much as possible.
“I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone,” Carey explained. “It can be incredibly isolating.”