2018, Mental Health

MARIAH CAREY COMES FORWARD WITH BIPOLAR II DISORDER DIAGNOSIS

Header image source: Wikipedia


I’ve come out three times in my life. First as gay, second as depressed, and third as a ride-or-die Kelly Clarkson stan. Strangely, it’s only the last that has caused permanent strife in my family. I expected that; the truth is hard to hear.

On Wednesday, skinny legend Mariah Carey announced that she has been dealing with a diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder. In an interview with People, Carey described that, while she was first diagnosed in 2001, it was only in the last few years that she fully accepted and grappled with treatment.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she said to People editor-in-chief Jess Cagle. “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.”

It’s easy to drown this announcement in platitudes and inspirational sayings. It’s easy to say that Mariah is brave. It’s easy to say that this is important. It’s easy to bury this in well-wishes and forget how desperately important this is.

So it needs to be stated regardless: this is fucking important. This is fucking brave. And this is life-saving.

I was fifteen when I started going to therapy. I was nineteen when I went on medication. I remember the first time I went to CVS and picked up my prescription. I carried it back to my apartment, the small paper bag crunched up into my sweaty fist furtively. I eyed the small blue ovals with displeasure, and resented every swallow, every day, until one day I didn’t.

I am, relatively, extremely lucky. I live in a bubble where my mental health does not limit or define me. I have friends who have their own struggles, and I have parents who have advocated for me. It’s easy for me to forget the magnitude of disclosing mental health now that it has become so normalized for me.

But I let myself forget sometimes that I started writing about my depression and anxiety because when I needed it most, there was no literature that I found helpful. There were dry, clinical descriptions, and there were void-swallowing depressing missives. There weren’t people that I could relate to, people who were “normal” and functioned.

And in 2001, I can’t imagine the hostile environment that Mariah was facing when she received her diagnosis. It would have probably been career-ending to come forward, as a woman and as someone with bipolar disorder. She would’ve been labeled disruptive or crazy or entirely unreliable. She would’ve been a national joke.

It’s only the last few years – if that – that I’ve noticed a shift in the conversation surrounding mental health.

If I had had someone like Mariah – or Demi Lovato or Kesha or Dwayne Johnson – when I was fifteen or seventeen or nineteen, I think that I would progressed out of that shame a lot more quickly. I probably wouldn’t have been so reticent to accept help. I didn’t know that you could be successful and also depressed; I didn’t know that this didn’t have to be a life sentence or a limitation.

Despite the strides we’ve made, disclosing mental health issues is still a major risk. There’s a stigma attached to it, stigma that could eliminate job opportunities or personal relationships or credibility. That stigma is reduced when people disclose their own struggles, and represent as people who are functioning, productive and driven. It also opens the conversation to the ways that mental health can contribute to people’s downfalls, when people aren’t functioning or productive or driven. It can open the conversation about the ways that we are failing people who struggle with mental health.

Because there are people like Mariah, who had wealth and time and resources to understand and cope with her diagnosis. There are people like me who have a supportive family and a network of people.

But there are so many people without those resources, without the access to therapy or medication, for whom mental health can be detrimental. This helps them.

“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,” Mariah told People. “It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

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Humor, Life

I’M YOUR PROBLEMATIC FAVE—LISTENING TO CHRISTMAS MUSIC

I made a Christmas playlist on Tuesday and I’ve been listening to it. Before you pick up those stones, ask yourself this: are you about to stone me because I committed a holiday faux-pas, or because you’re jealous that you didn’t do this yourself?

*gets hit in the head with a large stone* I deserve that.

But let me explain. Linda, Linda, listen. Listen. Amiright? Who got that reference? Google it, people. It’s pop history.

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In case you live under a rock—girl, you deserve better than that—I’m living in London at the moment. I shop for groceries here, I poop here, I take the tube, I get lost in Hyde Park. And here in England—omg, name drop—they don’t have Thanksgiving. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT MEANS?

No faux-pas. No arbitrary rule about waiting until after Thanksgiving. Once Halloween goes back into its dark hole, it’s open season, goddamnit. And since I’m missing Thanksgiving in America this year—frankly, I could afford to skip those calories—I’ve decided to embrace the British and start listening to holiday music.

And I’ve never felt so alive. I realized that the act of waiting until after Thanksgiving is completely idiotic. That leaves hardly a month for listening to Christmas music, which is—according to multiple sources that I can’t divulge for privacy reasons, not because they don’t exist—one of the greatest genres. I don’t want just a month of Christmas music. I want more. I guess I’m a typical American in that sense. Ironic that it took me living like a Brit to find that out.

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Is that irony? I’m not sure what ironic means. I guess that’s pretty ironic. Did I get it that time?

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I’m not the kind of person who typically gets into the holidays. I guess I just usually feel like holidays are kind of a letdown. But I really need to stop hate-scrolling on the Instagrams of people who get into the holiday spirit, and I realize that most of those people are making an active attempt to be festive and get into the spirit. So I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to be all festive and shit.

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I also have been feeling anxious lately, and this Christmas music playlist is making me feel better. I know you’re asking yourself, “Is he mentioning the mental illness thing as a way of making it harder to give him shit for listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving?” And to that I say, “No comment” and pop a Zoloft.

I haven’t been feeling anxious for any particular reason, except every reason, but that’s just the name of the game with depression/anxiety. You can have no reason to be feeling this way, and your illness is like LOL YOU WILL FEEL IT.

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I’ve been stressed about this study abroad almost being over. I’ve been stressed about worrying if I’m not traveling enough. I’m stressed about classes for next year. I’m stressed about boys. I’m stressed about being a tad homesick. Not in like a “crying” homesick way. Just like in a, “I would really like a Dunkin Donuts medium caramel iced coffee (with a Turbo shot and no milk) and also to not have to do math whenever I’m paying for something, and also to have actual money again,” homesick way. So I guess, when I write it out, there might be a reason for the anxiety.

Whatever. Idk. Whatever.

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So because I’m like a total slut for Christmas music now, I’m going to divulge my playlist:

My Christmas 2015 Playlist, aka “YAS GAWD NOW THAT’S WHAT I CALL CHRISTMAS”

  • One part Kelly Clarkson’s Wrapped In Red
  • One part Frank Sinatra’s The Classic Christmas
  • One part Michael Bublé’s Christmas
  • One part Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

Stir thoroughly, adding in dashes of drag queen Christmas singles, The Weather Girls’ “Dear Santa—Bring Me A Man,” and Kylie Minogue’s very sexy “Santa Baby.”

  • Add Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me” to taste. Serve immediately.

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Caveat: Once it’s November 13th, I will be adding the RuPaul’s Drag Race alumnae’s holiday album Christmas Queens. This will change the pH balance of the mix, because it’s about to get real basic. Okrrrrr?!

Side bar: Are they “alumnae” (the feminine plural Latinate ending) or are they “alumni” (the masculine plural ending)? Or maybe “alumna” (the gender neutral plural Latin ending)? So many questions.

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All in all, I’m trying to be a festive little snow baby. Even though it probably won’t snow while I’m in England. And it probably won’t snow when I’m back in New York for Christmas. It’ll probably dump four feet when it’s February and I’m pissed about Valentine’s Day. But being a snow baby is independent from the weather. Being a snow baby is purely a mental game. It’s all about in here *taps the side of head*. All in here.

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Alright, kiddos. I’m gonna go and start making a list of every holiday movie I’m going to watch. *Dodges another huge rock to the face* Okay, okay, I get it! I’ll roast a turkey! Fuck. You people are insatiable.

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