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Mariah ‘Careys’ on
Singer speaks on bipolar disorder sparking discussion on mental health
“I was so terrified of losing everything, I convinced myself the only way to deal with this was to not deal with this.”
Those are the words of an uncharacteristically vulnerable and open Mariah Carey, confessing to People Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jess Cagle, that she suffers from bipolar II disorder.
Last week’s announcement comes after what Carey says were “the hardest couple of years” she’s been through- years marked by flubbed, high-profile performances, romantic woes and an exploitative manager.
Now, the songbird says she’s in a good place, and is ready to share her story.
Carey kept the condition under wraps for 17 years, only recently opting to receive treatment via medication and therapy. She was diagnosed in 2001 following a complete physical and mental breakdown that resulted in hospitalization. This came during the promotional tour for her feature film and soundtrack album “Glitter,” which infamously tanked on the airwaves and in the box office.
The singer’s frazzled state during this period was epitomized on a surprise appearance of “Total Request Live,” wherein Carey appeared from backstage in nothing but an oversized t-shirt and shorts, whilst passing out ice cream to the show’s audience. A bewildered Carson Daly, who hosted TRL, tried to make sense of the situation as Mariah proceeded to strip tease while ranting about the importance of occasional therapy sessions.
And while that may have been the most extreme example of Carey’s fragile mental state, it is by no means the only. Throughout the years, she has amassed several viral moments—usually quickly dismissed as being related to her diva-ish ways, including a not so stellar tree lighting performance in 2014, and a disastrous New Year’s Eve performance two years later.
When a star of Carey’s stature goes public with something so personal, people talk and Quinnipiac students are no exception.
Bekah Powers, for one, thinks that her condition explains a lot of Carey’s sometimes erratic behavior.
“It makes sense- and explains a lot of the things I’ve seen her do the past few years,” the freshman sociology major said. “As long as it’s not made up to cover up some of her mishaps, I think it’s great to have someone to normalize bipolar disorder.”
All skeptics aside, many agree with Powers that having a successful public figure be so open with her condition is a definite positive.
“I think it’s awesome that someone that looked up to is speaking up about it and saying she has it,” junior physical therapy major Elizabeth Freeman said. “It’s making everyone aware of what it is and how it can affect her.”
Sophomore nursing major Christine Smith agrees with Freeman’s admiration for Carey.
” “It’s great because it will help to stop the stigma against bipolar, and people who are fans of her can better relate to her and understand her music a little more,” Smith said.
Carey is now joining the likes of Demi Lovato and Sinead O’Connor as being one of the few celebrities who openly battle bipolar disorder.
She is also among the 5.7 million Americans dealing with this condition, according the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic depression, is characterized by alternating episodes of mania and depression. Someone with bipolar disorder experiences periods of hyperactivity, decreased need for sleep and an overall sense of wellbeing and hopefulness according to the NIMH. Those periods are known as mania, and can last days, weeks or even months. They are followed by depressed periods where the energy and positive outlook evaporate completely.
Technically, there are two types of bipolar disorder- appropriately known as bipolar I and II. They are almost the same in every aspect, except the manic episodes in bipolar II are less severe than those in I.
For either one, there are many treatments available, which seem to be working for Mariah.
“I’m just in a really good place right now,” Carey told PEOPLE. “I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, counseling services are available for free at the Mount Carmel campus’ health center.