Demi Lovato is known for getting fairly dark with her social media comments, but if you think she is brooding and self-loathing now, you don’t know the half of it. In an interview recently published in the July edition of American Way, Lovato reveals that the past few years – especially the first few years of her adulthood – were extremely difficult for her, and she says she is lucky she made it through that dark period alive.
“I lived fast and I was going to die young,” Demi said.
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) June 25, 2016
In the interview, Lovato explained that, what with the multiple eating disorders and serious drug and alcohol addictions she had to grapple with, she did not think she would survive long. When asked if she thought at the time that she would live to see her 40th birthday, Lovato answered resoundingly in the negative.
“I didn’t think I would make it to 21.”
Demi said that her troubles had begun when she developed bulimia at a very early age. Lovato’s mother was bulimic, she recounted, and it had not been a healthy influence for the then-extremely impressionable Demi.
“Being around somebody who was 80 pounds and had an active eating disorder … it’s hard not to grow up like that,” Lovato mused.
I wanna be like her (it's Demi Lovato when she had bulimia) Only this…
Is it too much for pray?? pic.twitter.com/1rdK569ouh
— I(a)n(a)és!! (@lookforthinness) May 22, 2014
Demi continued that her participation in children’s beauty pageants until she was 12 years old did not help stifle the development of her own bulimic tendencies.
“My body-image awareness started way before that,” Lovato admits, “but I do attribute a little of my insecurities to being onstage and judged for my beauty.”
Lovato was forced to deal with bulimia for a few years after she retired from child pageantry until her big break came in 2008 in the form of the Disney Channel original movie Camp Rock. The flick was wildly popular and made Demi Lovato a star. Her ensuing touring with the already-popular Jonas Brothers did not hurt either.
— Demi Lovato Facts (@DailyDemiFacts) June 20, 2016
As Lovato’s career took off, she says, she looked at the careers of similar female pop stars whose careers had crashed and burned, like Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, and developed a nagging feeling “Demi Lovato” would become just another name added to that list.
“I was definitely like, ‘Oh crap. In three years, that’s going to be me,” Demi recalls.
Lovato’s low level of self-confidence combined with her existing self-image issues did indeed cause her to spiral out of control during the next few years.
— Karla (@DemiChoiceSmile) August 9, 2015
Demi’s loss of control was hardly her own fault, though; it was a virtually inevitable outcome for Lovato, a point the American Way piece explains perfectly.
“With celebrity inevitably come the hangers-on and enablers, plus the unlimited funds and the license to indulge one’s worst instincts. To remain grounded as a teen star requires a level of internal clarity and iron restraint that most teenagers simply don’t have. And Lovato had spent years in a fragile physical and emotional state by the time she was swept away by torrential success,” the magazine wrote.
Lovato’s parents attempted to help her escape her vices after she had achieved fame, but Demi just pushed them away.
“I’d say, ‘What are you going to do? I pay the bills!’ ” Lovato said, referring to the fact that she had already bought a luxury apartment in Los Angeles and moved her economically struggling family in with her.
“I put my parents in an uncomfortable position. There’s no manual on how to parent a pop star.”
By that time, she was also abusing booze and drugs ranging from cocaine to OxyContin.
Lovato’s tipping point, what alcoholics might call a “moment of clarity,” came during one of her tours with the Jonas Brothers in 2010 when she punched one of her backup dancers in the face.
— Jamar (@Jamarfaison) March 17, 2014
Demi immediately realized she had lost control of her actions and needed professional help, and Lovato wasted no time checking into a rehab clinic.
The rehab helped Demi deal with her bulimia, she says, and it inspired her to join Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to work on her substance abuse.
Today, Lovato says, she is doing much better. She took her last drink in 2012 and is clean when it comes to drugs.
Rehab, AA, and NA were huge helps in getting Demi on the right track, but she says one of her biggest motivators was actually the devoted Demi Lovato fan base, known as “Lovatics,” who she now gets to help fight the same demons she used to face.
“When I have meet-and-greets, I can’t tell you the amount of times that girls will show me their arms covered in scars or cuts,” Lovato smiles.
“They’ll tell me, ‘You helped me get through this. Because of you, I stopped self-harming,’ or ‘I got sober.’ Hearing those things gave my life new meaning.”
"Demi Lovato wins Presidential Election" *crowd chants*
— not bri (@Bananasregui) October 16, 2015
One can assume that five years ago, Demi Lovato never would have guessed she would be the one helping others to value life, but she has embraced the role and is just now beginning to fully accept it.
“I didn’t go into treatment thinking, ‘OK, now I’m going to be an inspiration,'” Demi said. “At times I was resentful for having that kind of responsibility, but now, it’s really become a part of my life. It holds me accountable.”
She is now 23, though, and on top of the world. Lovato’s darker side still comes out occasionally in her frequent Twitter rants, as she still battles bipolar disorder, but it is safe to say she is an inspiration.
[Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images]