Singer Mariah Carey says she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001

The singer reveals in an interview that she was diagnosed nearly two decades ago, but was in denial for many years.
Mariah Carey performing during New Year's eve celebrations in New York in 2017.
Mariah Carey performing during New Year's eve celebrations in New York in 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (NYTIMES) - Mariah Carey, the superstar singer who has lived in the public eye for three decades, has acknowledged that, in 2001, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Carey disclosed the diagnosis in an interview with People magazine's editor-in-chief, Jess Cagle. A preview of the magazine's cover story was published online on Wednesday (April 11).

The full interview will be available on Friday.

The interview marks one of the first instances in which a celebrity of Carey's stature has acknowledged her struggles with mental illness. In the interview, she explained why she had not previously revealed the diagnosis.

"I didn't want to carry around the stigma of a lifelong disease that would define me and potentially end my career," she said. "I was so terrified of losing everything."

Carey said that she had lived in "denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me," and that she had come forward after the burden became too heavy to bear. She is in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II disorder, a disease that can cause sudden and extreme shifts in mood, among other symptoms.

A publicist for Carey did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Carey was a teenager in the late 1980s when she was recruited by Tommy Mottola, the president of what was then CBS Records, to become a pop star. Her fame was swift with the backing of the label, and that placed enormous pressure on her from the beginning.

Her debut album, Mariah Carey, was nominated for four Grammys in 1991. She won two that year, including the award for best new artist. Her third album, 1993's Music Box, was also an enormous commercial success. By 2000, Billboard had crowned her the artist of the decade.

The latter half of her career has been characterised by inconsistent performances, and a string of high-profile relationships that have been obsessively covered by the tabloids.

Carey told People that she had decided to speak partly on behalf of others who might be suffering.

"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 me or control me."

What is bipolar disorder?

Also known as manic depression, it is a mental illness that causes extreme mood swings,and can include episodes of mania and depression.

According to a Singapore Mental Health study spearheaded by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), 1.2% of the adult population in Singapore suffers from bipolar disorder.

Symptoms include having an inflated sense of self-esteem, engaging in activities like spending sprees despite not being able to afford them, increased sexual activity, reckless driving, as well as making rash decisions.

Other celebrities who have been diagnosed include late Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, Oscar winning actor and director Mel Gibson, singer and former child actress Demi Lovato and actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.