A little over a month ago, Mariah Carey revealed she’s been diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder for 17 years since 2001. Many speculated it came from the stresses that came with her first marriage to music exec Tommy Mottola, and some connected her mental struggles with the infamous “breakdown” she endured in 2001. But Mariah says her mental issues started further back while growing up as a biracial child in a racist world.
In an interview with The Guardian, Carey opened up about her self-esteem issues as a biracial child ultimately causing an identity crisis. Carey’s mother Patricia was disowned by her family for marrying a black man, Alfred Carey, who was Afro-American and Afro-Venezuelan.
“It was a combination of being biracial and experiencing the darker side of life,” she said. “My mom experienced a lot of racism as an opera singer because she was married to a black man.”
Carey recalled a white school friend of hers screaming when she met Mariah’s father. “She burst into tears because she had never seen a black person I just remember how that impacted on me.”
Carey’s fair skin and curly hair made her racially ambiguous, but Carey admits she often wished she had darker skin.
“What can I do? I can’t go in the sun,” she added. “I had to go through so much in my childhood just to feel accepted and feel worthy of existing on Earth because I felt so different from everybody else growing up, because I was biracial, because I was so ambiguous-looking and because we didn’t have the money to escape whatever the everyday realities of life were.”
Overall, Carey said she carried the weight of confusion of simply existing – so when she married Mottola in 1993 (a relationship she says was very controlling and she felt like she had to “ask permission to exist”), it made the mental scars even bigger, leading to a bipolar II diagnosis years later.