Mariah Carey has spoken for the first time about her struggle with bipolar disorder.
Speaking in a new interview with PEOPLE for this week’s cover story titled, ““My Battle With Bipolar Disorder”, the 48-years-old pop singer told the magazine’s editor in chief, Jess Cagle, that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001, following her hospitalization for a physical and mental breakdown.
According to her, it was only recently that she began receiving treatment after “the hardest couple of years I’ve been through”
She is now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II disorder, which involves periods of depression as well as hypomania (less severe than the mania associated with bipolar I disorder, but can still cause irritability, sleeplessness and hyperactivity).
“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.”
“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.
“For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder,” continues Carey, now back in the studio working on an album due later this year. “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.”
On why she decided to speak about bipolar struggles, Carey, who co-parents her 6-year-old twins Monroe and Moroccan with ex-husband Nick Cannon said: “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.”