Mariah Carey has revealed for the first time that she has struggled with bipolar II disorder.
In an interview with People, she said she finally sought treatment after “the hardest couple of years I’ve been through.”
Carey was first diagnosed in 2001 after she was hospitalized for a physical and mental breakdown, but “didn’t want to believe it.”
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“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. 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 says she spent many years in the spotlight suffering in silence but is now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II disorder, which involves periods of depression as well as hypomania.
The Mayo Clinic defines bipolar disorder as “a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).”
Both bipolar II disorder and bipolar I disorder are characterized by intermittent periods of depression and mania, but bipolar II disorder has less severe manic episodes.
Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, you can manage mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan which involves medication and psychological counselling, according to the Mayo Clinic.
“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 tells People.
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“For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder,” Carey says. “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.”
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The mother of two says she decided to come forward now because “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. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”
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Bipolar disorder can occur at any age, but it’s typically diagnosed in the teenage years or early 20s. Symptoms may vary from person to person and over time, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Mania and hypomania are two types of episodes that occur when diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but they have the same symptoms.
Mania is more severe than hypomania and may also trigger a break from reality (psychosis) and may require hospitalization.
Symptoms of both manic and hypomanic episodes include: abnormally upbeat, increased activity, energy or agitation, exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence, decreased need for sleep, unusual talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility and poor decision-making.
Other signs of bipolar disorder include major depressive episodes that are severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty in day-to-day activities, anxious distress, melancholy or psychosis.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.