The pop icon was diagnosed with the disease in 2001 when she was hospitalized for a mental and physical breakdown. But now Carey — who says she’s in therapy and on medication to treat her bipolar II disorder — is ready to share her story.
“I was so terrified of losing everything, I convinced myself the only way to deal with this was to not deal with this,” she tells PEOPLE editor-in-chief Jess Cagle. “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,” says Carey. “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.”
- Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
Following the announcement on Wednesday, fans took to social media to support Carey and thank her for so bravely sharing her battle with bipolar disorder.
RELATED VIDEO: Mariah Carey: My Battle with Bipolar Disorder
Wrote one Twitter user, “THANK YOU @MariahCarey for so bravely sharing your story, and giving so many people struggling with mental health issues someone to look up to.”
“By sharing your story, you will no doubt inspire others to open up and get the help they need. You’re an inspiration.”
Some shared their own stories, praising Carey for being candid.
For more on Mariah Carey and her battle with bipolar disorder, dealing with fame and raising twins, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. For mental health support, contact the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance at dbsalliance.org.