Mariah Carey has a secret she's been carrying around for a long time.
The 48-year-old singer reveals in an interview withPeople magazine that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2001, upon being hospitalized after having a mental and physical breakdown.
"Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she says of keeping the diagnosis private. “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 says upon first hearing that she was bipolar, she "didn't want to believe it," but after recently enduring what she calls "the hardest couple of years" of her life, including a broken engagement to James Packer, she sought treatment.
Carey is now in therapy and taking medication for bipolar II disorder. According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar II disorder is a lot like bipolar I, with "moods cycling between high and low over time," however, "the 'up' moods never reach full-blown mania." The medical website notes that people with this condition "suffer more often from episodes of depression."
"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," Carey continues. "Finding the proper balance is what is most important."
The pop star -- who co-parents 6-year-old twins Monroe and Moroccan with ex-husband Nick Cannon -- also notes that she's currently back in the studio working on an album that is due out later this year.
"For a long time I thought I had a severe sleep disorder,” she adds. “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."
As for why she decided to come forward about her condition now, Carey explains, "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."
Carey also had a message for her fans on Instagram, writing: "I'm grateful to be sharing this part of my journey with you."
Here's more with Carey, including ET's most recent exclusive interview with her:
Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon Are 'Hands-On' Co-Parents, 'In a Really Good Place Together' (Exclusive)
Mariah Carey Quotes 'Mean Girls' While Replying to a Tweet From Katy Perry
Mariah Carey Admits She Doesn't 'Give a Damn' About the GRAMMYs