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In "People," Mariah Carey reveals years-long struggle with bipolar II disorder: "I lived in denial"

ABC/Heidi Gutman(LOS ANGELES) -- Mariah Carey's diva antics have been grabbing headlines for years, but now there's an explanation for the superstar singer's sometimes erratic behavior. 

As she reveals in People magazine this morning, Mariah suffers from bipolar II disorder, which can cause periods of depression, as well as manic episodes called "hypomania."

Carey tells People that she was diagnosed with the disease in 2001 when she was hospitalized after suffering an emotional and physical breakdown.  But, she says, "I didn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to carry around the stigma of a lifelong disease that would define me and potentially end my career."

She adds, "I was so terrified of losing everything, I convinced myself the only way to deal with this was not to deal with this..I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me."

During her manic episodes, Carey says she'd work for days in a row without sleeping, until she "hit a wall."  When the episode ended, she'd feel "so tired, lonely and sad, even guilty."

Finally, the superstar decided that "it was too heavy a burden to carry," and was also inspired by other celebrities who've revealed their own issues.  She "sought and received treatment," she says; according to People, she's now in therapy and on medication. 

After going through "one of the hardest couple of years that I've been through," which included her split with fiance James Packer, Carey now says, "I'm just in a really good place right now."

She and her ex, Nick Cannon, are co-parenting their twins -- "What could possibly be more therapeutic than...watching them enjoy childhood?" she asks.

Carey and boyfriend Bryan Tanaka are also "doing great," she says, and she's got a new album due later this year.

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