“I did not ‘have a breakdown.’ I was broken down,” Carey says now, looking back at the Summer of 2001.
In 2001, Mariah Carey’s publicist confirmed she had an “emotional and physical breakdown” following a series of bizarre events beginning with an appearance on “Total Request Live” and ending with her in a rehab facility.
Speaking out about the whole ordeal in her new book, “The Meaning of Mariah Carey,” the singer says it was not, in fact, a “breakdown,” but “somatization” due to a combination of anxiety, exhaustion and past trauma.
All of this went down as Carey prepared for the release of “Glitter” and its soundtrack, with Mariah writing that she “was giving as much as I could” at the time. She said her schedule was “relentless” … and “nowhere in my itinerary was there R-E-S-T.”
After early reviews for the movie absolutely trashed it and the lead single only hit #2 on the charts, the “stress was mounting” for Carey, who also felt like her team wasn’t doing enough to help the situation. Taking matters into her own hands, she planned a stunt at “Total Request Live” to try and shift the narrative around “Glitter.” It did … but not in a good way.
Carey “crashed” the show, appearing with an ice cream cart for what she calls “a highly unrehearsed” moment with host Carson Daly. “I very much freestyled my dialogue, as I tend to do, and I was hoping Carson Daly could play off of me, riff, and involve the audience,” she said, “But he didn’t play along. (I know he was probably told to act surprised, but he didn’t act at all.)”
She then removed her oversized “Loverboy” t-shirt to reveal gold hot pants and a tank top. While Carson said she was “stripping on TRL,” Carey wrote, “I certainly was not stripping — I was revealing.”
Admitting her performance was “a bit sloppy,” she went on to call the whole thing “A. Stunt. Gone. Awry.” — but a stunt a whole team of people knew about and approved beforehand. “I was like a stand-up comic who bombed a set,” she said, “all performers bomb, but my bombing set off a chain reaction that placed a target on my back.”
Saying her bomb “mushroomed into a big, nasty, never-ending story” at a time where celebrities couldn’t try and control their narrative thanks to social media, she continued to spiral — not sleeping at all and barely eating.
As the label tried to get her to film a video for “Never Too Far,” the second single from “Glitter,” Carey admitted she was “utterly exhausted, baked, fried, and frayed” at the time. She tried to hide from her management team, shacking up with a trusted background vocalist, before her brother found her and brought her to her mother’s home.
The stress only reached new heights there, where she tried to manage her anxiety by cleaning her mom’s kitchen. While doing that, she momentarily “blacked out,” woke up and was put to bed. It was her first real sleep in about a week — a slumber broken by her mother, who said her recording company was looking for her.
That set Carey off. “As a survival response, I dipped into the depth of my sarcasm and made fun of her, viciously,” she recalled. “No one, and especially not my mother, had ever seen me in such a rage.”
Her mother called the police on her, Carey believing she had done so because “she had been defied, and I had dared to be belligerent. I was being aggressive toward her. I was scaring her.”
Basically calling her mom a Karen, Carey said the police immediately sided with her, writing that, “The only thing the cops saw was a scared white woman in a big house full of nonwhite people … Even Mariah Carey couldn’t compete with a nameless white woman in distress.”
“That night, I did not ‘have a breakdown,'” she added. “I was broken down — by the very people who were supposed to keep me whole.”
Carey had police take her to what she said the locals called “a spa,” which was actually a rehab center. She said “it was closer to a prison” or an “upscale juvenile detention center,” where she was met with zero sympathy from the administrator checking her in.
“Looks like you need a dose of humility,” she said he told her after she opened up about the stress of her album, movie and upcoming premiere.
She eventually was able to check out, before she entered another rehabilitation center in Los Angeles — one she was granted release from after the terrorist attack on 9/11, the same day her “Glitter” album dropped.
Once she returned home to New York, she found herself a therapist, who was able to diagnose what was actually going on with her.
“All the nausea from being humiliated by kids and teachers, all the breaking out in hives all over, all the severe upper back and shoulder pain from stress from Tommy, all the dizziness and revulsion from the terror of my brother, all the psychological distress I endured which wreaked havoc on my body had a name — somatization,” she wrote. Carey has previously opened up about living with bipolar disorder, which she was first diagnosed with in 2001, but does not mention it in the book.
Being able to give a name to her troubles was a relief for Carey, as her therapist also assured her “I was absolutely not crazy.'” She added, “At most, he said, I’d had a ‘diva fit.'”
At his advice, she reevaluated her relationships with her family — and began to call her mom “Pat” and referring to her siblings as her “ex-brother” and “ex-sister.” She also reconnected with God.