Carey said she was first diagnosed in 2001, but only recently began seeking treatment.
“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” the 48-year-old said. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore.”
Carey told People that she goes to therapy and takes medication for bipolar II disorder, which is marked by episodes of depression and hypomania. Hypomania is characterized by mild bouts of hyperactivity and elation.
At first, the singer said she just thought she had a “severe sleep disorder.”
“I was irritable and in constant fear of letting people down. It turns out that I was experiencing a form of mania,” she said. “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.”
The singer is not alone in her experience. The National Alliance on Mental Health estimates that about 2.6 percent of the U.S. population is affected by bipolar disorder (an umbrella term that includes bipolar II).
Now that she’s been seeking treatment, Carey said that she’s in a “really good place right now.”
“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,” Carey said. “It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”
Demi Lovato is another celebrity who has been open about her bipolar disorder diagnosis and how treatment has helped her manage the condition.
In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres last year, the singer said “I’m bipolar and proud and I live well with it.”
“I think that that’s the goal for everyone with a mental illness,” Lovato explained. “The reality is, one in five Americans has a mental health condition, so as long as they get the right treatment team in place and the right treatment plan, then they can live well with it.”
Amen to that.
Head here to read the rest of Carey’s interview with People, or pick up a copy when the magazine hits newsstands on Friday, April 13.