Mariah Carey, the diva songstress with a vocal range of five octaves who catapulted to fame in 1990 with her first hit “Vision of Love” and has sold more than 200 million albums in the 28 years since, has revealed that she has bipolar disorder.
According to People Magazine, Carey admitted she was diagnosed in 2001 after she was hospitalized for a mental and physical breakdown. “I didn’t want to believe it,” she said.
At the time, she thought she was merely suffering from a sleep disorder due to her nonstop work schedule. “I was irritable and in constant fear of letting people down,” she said, stating that she was experiencing a form of mania, one of the two components of bipolar disorder.
Carey, who is nearly 50, did not seek treatment for her condition until very recently. She is the mother of twins Moroccan and Monroe, a result of her marriage to TV host Nick Cannon. The two separated in 2014 but remain friends and active parents to the twins. Carey was engaged to billionaire James Packer for most of 2016 before ending the union.
Carey has long been known as a diva and also for erratic behavior in public. The most recent event took place on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in 2016 when technical problems during her performance caused her to stop singing and make rude comments to the crowd in a performance that was dubbed a “train wreck” by The New York Times.
Diva or not, perhaps some of her behavior can now be traced back to her diagnosis.
Mind, a mental health charity in Britain, explains that bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by up-and-down mood swings. The “highs” or “mania” are characterized as excited and excitable behavior, almost a “happy high” that people get when they receive good news or much anticipated test results, for example.
The lows, however, can sink as far as deep depression, sometimes with hallucinations, delusions, and even thoughts of suicide.
Carey was quoted as explaining that she lived in constant fear that she would be exposed, but stated, “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that any more. 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 is now back in the studio working on her fifteenth album; her last one was released in 2014. Carey admits that now she’s in hopes that her candor will help change the perceptions of bipolar disorder and hopes people can “get to a place where the stigma is lifted.”
Other notables who have suffered from this disorder include Axl Rose, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ben Stiller, Stephen Fry and Patty Duke.
But perhaps no celebrity has been as outspoken about their bipolar disorder diagnosis as Carrie Fisher, who passed away in late 2016. Like Carey, Fisher reportedly did not accept the news at first when she was diagnosed with bipolar at the age of 24. She claimed it took her four years to accept the reality.
“Excessive use of alcohol and substances are more common among people with bipolar disorder,” University of Toronto psychiatrist Benjamin Goldstein told Scientific American.