Mariah Carey is an absolute legend, that is indisputable. Since she came onto the pop music scene in the 90’s, she’s been practically unstoppable. She’s one of the most successful singers of all time. Mariah has 18 number one hits, and has sold more than 200 million records. Just this past Christmas, her holiday mega-hit became the most downloaded holiday song of all time. Her personal life has had some ups and downs, but the mother of 6-year-old twins Morocco and Monroe always seems to land on her feet. But it hasn’t always been that way. Mariah opened up to PEOPLE magazine about her struggles with mental health, and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001.

The summer of 2001 was a hard one for Mariah Carey. She was coming off her divorce from Tommy Mottola. She was in the midst of a feud with her record label, and her movie Glitter was panned by critics everywhere. Mariah was hospitalized for exhaustion after a disastrous appearance on MTV’s TRL.

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It was during that hospitalization that Mariah was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. But she was in denial, and hid her condition for years. It wasn’t until recently that she even sought treatment and therapy to help her manage the disorder. Says Mariah, “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.”

Mariah says she’s finally in treatment and taking medication for bipolar II disorder. She told PEOPLE, “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.”

Bipolar II disorder is characterized as periods of depression with bouts of hypomania. Hypomania is less severe than the mania associated with bipolar I disorder. But it can still cause sleeplessness, irritability, and hyperactivity. Mariah says that she used to believe her insomnia stemmed from a sleep disorder. “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.”

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Mariah Carey says she chose to come forward now because she’s in a really good place, and she’s comfortable talking about her diagnosis. We applaud you, Mariah! Mental illness can be very isolating, and it’s so helpful to know that you’re not alone.

(Image: Instagram / @mariahcarey)