Carey Showed Earlier Signs of Strain

Leave it to the hairdressers to know what's really going on in someone's life.

With Mariah Carey, it was clear to her stylist that the singer-actress needed a break.

Wayne Scot Lukis told US Weekly he recently styled the pop star's hair. By the end of her salon visit, she had racked up 297 messages on her pager.

Those messages were just part of her increasingly demanding schedule. Carey had been making appearances in London and New York to promote her upcoming film debut in Glitter and the companion soundtrack.

She was primed to dominate the charts once again and to add moviegoers to her strong base of fans. But instead of dominating the summer entertainment scene, Carey is dropping out of the limelight to take care of herself.

Carey, 31, checked herself into an undisclosed hospital last week. Although spokeswoman Cindi Berger at first said the singer was suffering from "extreme exhaustion," the publicist acknowledged Wednesday that Carey "has suffered an emotional and physical breakdown" and is "under psychiatric care."

Lukis thinks it's a good move.

"Sometimes checking into a hospital just means that you are somewhere where no one can reach you," he said. "It's 'leave me alone' at the highest level.

"Somebody needs to tell her it's OK to slow down," he added.

'Still Looking' for Happiness

The singer has made a side-career of posting cheerful comments on her Web site, describing her daily activities and expressing gratitude for her success.

Those reading the notices found a stark change in that sunny attitude just before Carey was hospitalized.

She left two despondent messages on her official Web site, complaining of being overworked and getting too little attention from her new record label.

She had good reason to expect fanfare from Virgin Records. The label brought her on in April, with a contract offering $23.5 million for each of five CDs in her first deal since leaving Sony Records, where her hits included "Dream Lover," and "Always Be My Baby."

The new deal was a landmark for Carey, who wanted to prove she would make it on her own after her divorce from Sony boss Tommy Mottola.

During a 1998 interview with ABCNEWS' Barbara Walters, Carey spoke about her new single life, and ongoing desire to find happiness.

"I'm still looking for that. And I don't like to say that. Because I don't want to seem ungrateful. I know what I have," said Carey. "But still, inside, I don't feel like there's anyone who necessarily truly and fully understands me or who I can trust completely."

Carey has been dating Latin singer Luis Miguel. Berger said the two had not broken up, but that he had not been to visit her in the hospital.

'Resting and Improving'

Carey has canceled all public appearances, and it is unclear how long she will remain hospitalized.

Her publicist is now fielding questions about Carey's health instead of helping to promote her film debut.

Berger denied tabloid reports that Carey had tried to commit suicide. She acknowledged that before her hospitalization, Carey did suffer cuts to her body, but said those injuries were accidental.

"She did break some dishes and glasses, and she may have stepped on them," Berger said.

Berger could not say when Carey might be released.

"I'm taking it one day at a time, but right now she is resting and improving," said Berger.