Singer Demi Lovato tells all about her battle with addiction, mental illness and an eating disorder.
“I lived fast and I was going to die young,” she said of her teenage years. “I didn’t think I would make it to 21.”
The former Disney star, now 23, started binge eating at just 9 years of age and cutting her arms and purging at 12. Demi explains that her mother was bulimic, which had a big impact on her, even as a very young child. She said she remembers being in diapers and looking down at her belly, wondering if it would ever be flat.
“Even though I was 2 or 3 years old,” Demi said, “being around somebody who was 80 pounds and had an active eating disorder … it’s hard not to grow up like that.”
Demi's issues were compounded by a childhood spent competing in beauty pageants and getting TV roles, and she began self-medicating with alcohol, cocaine and OxyContin to cope with the pressure. Eventually, she ended up in rehab and was diagnosed with bulimia and bipolar disorder.
“So now I’m in rehab,” Demi recalled, “and I thought, ‘Oh great, now the world thinks I’m just another stereotype.’ ”
In the years since getting clean, Demi has used her fame to help other young people struggling with mental illness and is a leading mental health advocate.
“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,” she told American Way. “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 also revealed that while she is nowhere near ready having children of her own, she worries about what kind of burden she might pass down. “Already I ask myself questions," she said. "My grandma had bulimia, my mom had it, I had it, and hopefully my kids won’t have it, but it’s kind of like addiction. It’s hereditary.”