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‘It Can Be Incredibly Isolating.’ Mariah Carey Opens Up About Her Bipolar II Disorder

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Pop star Mariah Carey revealed her “struggles” with bipolar II disorder, after almost two decades of silence.

“I’m just in a really good place right now, where I’m comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder,” the singer told People. “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.”

Bipolar II is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that vacillate between emotional highs and lows, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). Unlike bipolar I, bipolar II does not typically include manic episodes — long-lasting highs so extreme they may prompt reckless or dangerous behavior, and even require hospitalization — but it still involves mood swings and resulting sleep, energy and behavioral disturbances.

Carey told People she was first diagnosed with the condition in 2001, after being hospitalized for a physical and emotional breakdown, but she “didn’t want to believe it” at first. After a difficult personal stretch, the artist said she is now in treatment — and ready to share her reality with the world.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” Carey told People. “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.”

In going public, Carey joins a group of celebrities who have recently decided to discuss their mental health, including NBA star Kevin Love and model Chrissy Teigen.

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Write to Jamie Ducharme at jamie.ducharme@time.com