Mariah Carey has broken her silence about her mental illness - was being called a diva easier to live with?
I know this has been said so many times before – but we really have got to stop believing that living with any kind of mental health disorder is something you should be ashamed of.
Whenever there is any narrative that serves to create open dialogue, it’s often tempered by attitudes that are rooted in dismissal, especially by many who view depression as something that can simply be exercised away or be banished by thinking happy thoughts.
Over the past few years, more and more celebrities have been coming forward to talk about their struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders that they’ve been living with. From Demi Lovato – who has bravely opened up about her struggles with mental health, addiction and suicidal thoughts, to Chrissy Teigen who bared her soul about struggling with post-partum depression.
Our local celebrities have also been opening up too. Bonnie Mbuli, Nonhle Thema and Simphiwe Dana have all been upfront about how difficult it is living with and trying to overcome depression.
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And now, adding to those phenomenally brave voices, is none other than Mariah Carey.
The Grammy-award winning singer and songwriter has recently, in an exclusive interview with People magazine, revealed that she’s been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder 2.
Remember that period in 2001 when she was hospitalised for that physical and emotional breakdown that many folk had a field day with? That was when she was first diagnosed.
She says that it took a long time for her to process it and that it was hard to reconcile with the diagnosis the first time. In the interview she also goes on to add that she spent so much time living in fear of being exposed and how it eventually became something that was too big to bear on her own.
Let’s stop there for a moment and take a look at the media’s portrayal of her over the years.
- She’s garnered the reputation as being a diva (to be fair this has many different meanings, although the ones applicable to her have never been positive) and being difficult to deal with
- She’s been seen as melodramatic, over the top, vain and hard to work with because of all of her unreasonable demands
- She's been cast as unlikeable – not all of which may have been rooted in fact – so when she had what they dubbed as an epic meltdown, they had a field day with it, never imagining that there was more going on behind the scenes than they were willing to look.
No, in much the same fashion as Britney Spears – they simply saw another story about a 'hysterical woman' unable to function, brought to their knees due to a mess of their own making.
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And the amount of glee in the headlines only cemented this.
But difficult people are people and sometimes underneath the surface is a boatload of struggles they feel they can’t share with the public because of the fear of being ridiculed.
And Mariah was right to protect herself.
There is still a lot of confusion and misconceptions around bipolar disorder, and while it is wonderful to see more people being open about it, can you imagine how much more damage the media would have done to her if that had to be revealed back then?
Of course, with celebrities being more open about mental health disorders, it’s good to see Mariah taking back the narrative that was stolen from her.
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What Mariah – or Mimi to her fans – has done here, is not only opened up about her struggle with an illness that she, at first struggled to understand herself, but in doing so she’s helping countless of other folk who struggle with the illness to not feel alone in this.
She’s come full circle with a narrative that was meant to break her down, and has turned it around into a victory for her – and for those who have always felt ashamed of living with a mental health illness.
We completely applaud her!
Do you struggle with any mental health illnesses?
Worried about your anxiety, depression or think your erratic mood swings may be an indicator of something more serious?
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group have a comprehensive list of contact details for counsellors, support groups and emergency helplines:
You can contact a counsellor between 8am-8pm Monday to Sunday on: 011 234 4837 or 0800 20 50 26.
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