Butterfly queen Mariah Carey is getting real with her fans in an empowering new way.
In this week’s PEOPLE cover story, the songstress revealed her battle with bipolar disorder. She was first diagnosed in 2001 after she was hospitalized for a physical and mental breakdown.
“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she said. “It was too heavy of 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.”
She told PEOPLE editor Jess Cagle that she is now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II disorder, involving periods of depression as well as hypomania, which can cause irritability, sleeplessness, and hyperactivity.
“For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder,” Carey said. “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 decided to come forward about it because she feels like she’s in a better state right now where she feels comfortable talking about her struggles with the disorder.
“I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone,” she said. “It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define or control me.”
Mimi isn’t the only one who has bravely come forward with her experience. Celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Sinead O’Connor have discussed their experiences with the diagnosis in the past as well.
The one thing they can all agree on? Mental health is a work in progress. Props to you for your valiant efforts, Mimi — we got your back.