Mariah Carey is setting herself free.
In People's Apr. 23 issue (on newsstands Friday), the singer opens up about living with bipolar II disorder—and why she kept it a secret from the public for nearly two decades. Carey was first diagnosed in 2001, after she was hospitalized for a mental and physical breakdown. Back then, "I didn't want to believe it." For years after her hospitalization, Carey recalls, "I was so terrified of losing everything I convinced myself the only way to deal with this was to not deal with this."
After "the hardest couple of years," Carey recently sought treatment. "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," she says. Carey says she is now in therapy and taking medication to manage her bipolar II disorder, which is characterized by extended periods of depression, hypomania and mood swings. "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," she says. "Finding the proper balance is what is most important."