Mariah Carey had a hard childhood after her parents, a white Irish-American Opera singer mother, Patricia, and an African American/Afro-Venezuelan aeronautical engineer father, Roy, divorced.
Some people seem larger than life even if they are present in front of us, and Mariah Carey, 50, is likely one of those people. The combination of beauty and talent, and sheer hard work, has made her a household name for decades. For all the fame and wealth she has now, there's a lot more that she went through that won't be erased just by the nice things in life.
There are many myths about Carey, and some of them might even be true, but in her own words, she tries to be nice. "I’m not that bossy, honestly. I try to be nice. I doooo,” she tells The Guardian. "I know everybody thinks I am. Whatever. I don’t know what they think. I don’t care," she added. The mother-of-two said, "If I looked at every single thing people say about me I couldn’t exist as me, so I’d rather just see certain things."
Her story began in the state of New York, where she was born to a white Irish-American mother, Patricia, and an African American/Afro-Venezuelan father, Roy. Her mom was an opera singer and her father was an aeronautical engineer. However, they divorced when she was only 3 years old. Her mom tried hard to put food on the table, which required moving often. Her older sister Alison eventually battled addiction, got married and became a mom at age 15, went into sex work, and became HIV positive.
Carey said that she used music to escape her surroundings. She started working in studios at the age of 12 as a backing vocalist. By 19, she was discovered by the Sony boss Tommy Mottola, who ended up marrying her despite the 20-year age gap. However, that marriage wasn't a pleasant one and they split up four years later. She accused him of being controlling but he has denied her claims.
In 2001, she was hospitalized after a physical and mental breakdown, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. "I didn’t want to believe it," the superstar told People. "Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me," she said in 2018. "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 added.
The 50-year-old singer sees her mental health as a "price to pay for living a public life." She told The Guardian, "You can either sit there and go ‘Woe is me, I’m famous!’, which some people do. But you kinda asked for it."
She said that she sees her identity crisis in childhood as the root of it. "It was a combination of being biracial and experiencing the darker side of life. My mom experienced a lot of racism as an opera singer because she was married to a black man. Again, it’s impossible to encapsulate that in this setting," she added.
Carey takes medication and goes to therapy for her bipolar II disorder, reports People. She experiences periods of depression and hypomania. "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," she said.
Before she was diagnosed, she thought she 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," she said.
She came forward as she was in a "really good place" in her life and was "comfortable" talking about her struggles. She also hopes that the "stigma is lifted" as going through this can "be incredibly isolating." However, she only looks at the positive. "It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me," she added.