The tweets that show why Mariah Carey hid her bipolar for 17 years.

Video via NBC

 

In 2001, a then 31-year-old Mariah Carey tottered on to the set of the popular MTV show Total Request Live pushing a cart full of ice cream.

Her appearance, according to flustered host Carson Daly, was completely unannounced. The singer proceeded to perform a striptease of sorts, removing her lavender t-shirt to reveal a halter top and shorts, before passing out icy poles to baffled audience members.

“If you don’t have ice cream in your life, sometimes you might just go a little bit crazy,” she said.

It was very clear to see that all was not well.

Soon after, on 25 July 2001, Carey checked into a New York hospital with what was described as “an emotional and physical breakdown” brought on by exhaustion.

Two weeks later she was released from the psychiatric facility. And a year after that, seemingly recovered, Carey insisted in an interview with USA Today, that it had been “burning the candle at both ends and in the middle” that had caused her meltdown.

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But on Wednesday, almost 17 years after these events took place, Carey told us a different story. One she’d kept hidden while living in “constant fear” that it would be exposed.

During that hospital stay, she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.

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

“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.”

17 years is a painfully long time to carry any sort of burden. For someone who has lived their life in the public gaze for three decades, whose every move is scrutinised, who cannot have a relationship or a break up or a baby without an avalanche of media coverage, it must’ve been crippling.

And yet she chose to remain silent, to carry the weight of something so agonisingly complex in private.

After a quick scan of Twitter in the 24 hours that have followed her announcement, it is sadly, very easy to see why she made that decision. Among the tweets applauding her bravery in speaking out and thanking her for shining a spotlight on such an important issue, there are reactions like these:

Carey’s candid words will help shed light on what it’s like to live with such a debilitating mental illness and will help reduce stigma surrounding seeking treatment.

But reactions of an ignorant and unkind minority show us, there is a still so much work to be done.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

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