The message Mariah Carey
posted on her Web site was poignantly undiva-like: "I'm in a very bad place," she announced on July 25. Within 24 hours, following weeks of erratic behavior, the bestselling female artist of the '90s entered a Connecticut psychiatric hospital. During her two-week stay she was treated for what her publicist called "an emotional and physical breakdown." Denying rumors of a suicide attempt, intimates pointed to exhaustion, and certainly Carey, 32, had more than chronic insomnia to keep her up nights: sluggish sales of her "Loverboy" single; a $117 million recording contract to live up to; and a faded three-year romance with Latin singer Luis Miguel, 31. Weeks later she would earn scathing reviews for her major film debut, Glitter, which became the butt of comics' jokes. ("Reports suggest that Osama bin Laden is most likely hiding out somewhere remote and barren: theaters showing the movie Glitter," quipped SNL's Jimmy Fallon.) "She was devastated," says one close friend.
After an alleged setback in early September, Carey emerged from a reported three-week hospitalization at UCLA Medical Center to perform at the Sept. 21 America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon. She has since appeared at awards shows, filmed an upcoming episode of Ally McBeal and made plans to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl in February. "I tend to work myself into the ground," she told reporters. "And guess what? I'm human."