Mariah Carey hid her mental illness for 17 years. Now she's owning it.

For years, international pop icon Mariah Carey was living with a condition that greatly affected her life — but she kept it a secret and even refused treatment.

In a new interview, Carey revealed that she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder back in 2001 after a mental breakdown. However, fear of being publicly outed led her to keep the diagnosis a secret, and refuse treatment, until recently.

"I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me," she said. "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."


Seeing stories of other celebrities discussing mental illness helped her come forward.

A number of other public figures have come forward in recent years with their own stories of living with mental illness. The positive response to those stories helped Carey seek treatment and speak publicly about her own experiences.

"She's hoping she can have the same sort of positive impact with other people," People magazine editor-in-chief Jess Cagle said.

"I'm just in a really good place right now, where I'm comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder," Carey said. "I'm hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone."

Carey's public behavior has been scrutinized and even mocked for years.

Carey has gone through a number of highly scrutinized public incidents throughout her career. Most recently, she was attacked online relentlessly following a 2016 New Year's Eve performance rife with technical difficulties (and what was perceived as an odd reaction to them).

Now that she's sharing her story, those incidents are placed in a different light, whether or not they were directly tied to her bipolar disorder. And they also can help to serve as an educational moment about how we can all react more sensitively to public figures during "embarrassing" or "awkward" moments.

Carey revealed that she's been going to therapy and taking medications that have helped bring her symptoms under control.

"It can be incredibly isolating," Carey said of living in secret with her condition. "It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

Every time a public figure like Carey opens up about mental health, it reduces stigma and increases acceptance.

No one is required to share private details of their life that they may want to keep private. And not everyone's experience is the same. But when beloved figures like Carey — or famously "strong" celebs like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson — come forward to share their vulnerabilities, it makes it a little easier for the next person to do the same.

Mariah Carey showed a tremendous amount of bravery by coming forward to tell her own story, and she's also doing a service to anyone out there navigating their own personal mental health journeys.

Family

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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