Memoirs of Mental Health: Mariah Carey

I have never been more excited to press “publish” on a blog post than I have been today. Mariah Carey is on my short list of musicians that have changed my life (right next to THE Ms. Lauryn Hill) so obviously, I pre-ordered The Meaning of Mariah Carey¬†when it was first announced. Today, I’m excited to share some mental health insights that I gained from Ms. Carey’s memoir.

Mental Health Themes

Mariah’s memoir shares a lifetime of encounters with mental health obstacles to include PTSD, abuse, bullying, psychiatric hospitalization, addiction, and toxic relationships; however, I will focus on the mental health aspects of her experiences with race/colorism and trauma.

Race and Colorism

I mentioned in the previous post in this series how important it is for me, a Black, biracial male, to see my experiences reflected in the mainstream. Mariah and her two siblings were born to an Irish (White) mother and a Black father. While her siblings’ skin tones appear browner, the youngest, Mariah, has fair skin. Society’s interpretation of her racial identity has most certainly impacted her concept of self, which I can wholeheartedly relate too. Examples include racism and colorism within her own family; most notably, her racist maternal grandmother disowned Mariah’s mother after she married a Black man. “Marrying one (a Black man) was an abomination.”

I was also moved by the racism experienced by both Mariah and her father. She was often outcast from her older siblings (colorism) because they believed Mariah to be attempting to “pass as white” simply because she’s fair-skinned. Mariah’s father would often get comments from peers and family such as, “Roy, that ain’t your baby,” which cut deep, as I have had people say the same thing to me about my daughter who, though biracial, is very fair-skinned.

Finally, I completely relate to Mariah’s grade school experiences. Being mixed and being asked questions like, “What are you?” was always confusing and anxiety-provoking in my childhood. That paired with critiques from others stating that I wasn’t “Black enough to be Black” or that I “talked White” was equally as confusing. When Mariah was 4 years old, she was actually ridiculed by her teachers for “using the wrong crayon” to color her family portrait (referring to her Black father.) “His completion was a crayon color they didn’t have.” Hearing how Mariah experienced racism and colorism in her upbringing and professional life is incredibly validating to me as I continue to embrace my Black and multiracial identity.

Trauma and Therapy

You’ll need to read the book for the specifics, but there’s plenty of dysfunction, trauma bonding, narcissism abuse, family manipulation, mental health diagnoses, and disregard for self-care woven throughout this memoir. As a fan, it was eye-opening to hear how these experiences influenced the lyrics of the songs that I’ve grown up with. Mariah talks openly about how therapy played an integral role in escaping her abusive first marriage and through periods of burnout. I love how transparent and unapologetically she explains the importance of therapy as an ongoing self-care practice for her. I certainly know how life-changing therapy has been for me.

Noteworthy Quotes

Conclusion

When my wife was pregnant with Mya Jayn, I had planned to name her “Mariah Jayn” because of the profound impact that Mariah Carey’s music has had on my life. Though the name didn’t make it to the birth certificate, you will still catch me calling her “Mariah Jayn” on a daily basis. As for the book, I highly recommend the Audible version, as it’s read by the author and includes songs that pair perfectly with the story.

Thanks for reading!

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