Mariah Carey made a surprising and honest revelation to PEOPLE, opening up for the first time about her struggles with bipolar disorder.

Diagnosed in 2001 following a breakdown, the music hit maker admits that she was in denial about her condition. But after a couple of difficult years, including career setbacks and a high profile break up with ex-fiance, James Packer, Carey sought help.

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

Carey explained how her condition – bipolar II disorder – manifested in her day-to-day life.

“For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder. 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.”

In therapy and on the proper medication, Carey, who is mother to 6-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe with ex-husband Nick Cannon, is in a good place and hoping to lift the stigma on people suffering with mental health issues.


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