December 15, 2013

Demi Lovato Opens Up on her Destructive Eating Disorder

Shining the spotlight on the destructive and frightening world of an eating disorder, Demi Lovato has shared her experience in the damaging disorder, which started before she was a teenager. Becoming a poster child for eating disorder recovery, Demi has bravely shared the intimate secrets of her own journey and path to wellness. 

"It was always there, but then I just acted on it at around 8 or 9 years old. I started overeating, compulsively overeating. I would bake cookies and then eat the whole pan. I went from doing that to being unhappy with my body. I went to just completely starving myself and that turned into throwing up and starving myself and it was just this crazy battle going on inside of me," she said.

Lovato, who recalls always wanting to be "very thin," faced torment in school. She said words "played more of a toll on me than if I was physically abused in school. I've always said I wished that they had just hit me in the face and gotten it over with because what they said to me sticks to me to this day and it affected me, (turned) me into the person I am today. I was bullied and they called me fat and they called me horrible things."

Lovato struggled with bulimia as a young girl, which led to cutting. "It was a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body. I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were some times where my emotions were just so built up, I didn't know what to do. The only way that I could get instant gratification was through an immediate release on myself."

"It got really difficult [and] I would throw up and it would just be blood and it was something that I realised if I don’t stop this, I am going to die."

"I was performing concerts on an empty stomach," she said during the 2010 interview. "I was losing my voice from purging. I was self-medicating. I was not taking medication for depression, and I literally was so emotionally whacked out that I took it out on someone that meant a lot to me."

Receiving help to stop her downward spiral, Demi retreated to a rehabilitation centre in 2010 to work through her demons. Demi admits her path to recovery is not easy and requires constant work to stay healthy. 

"It's a daily thing; you don't get time off from it. And if I feel like myself slipping back into old patterns, I have to ask others for help, which is hard for me to learn, because I really like doing everything on my own," she told Cosmopolitan in May. "I cannot tell you that I have not thrown up since treatment. I cannot tell you that I have not cut myself since treatment. I’m not perfect," she said.

Often thought to be a hereditary mental condition, Lovato’s mum, Dianna, struggled with serious depression. 

Dianna said, "I had a terrible eating disorder that I had for many, many years and I didn’t realise it and I had to face up to the fact that I was suffering as well. And a lot of what [Demi] went through with an eating disorder had to do with what she had seen growing up and I also had severe depression and I ended up asking for help actually they did an intervention with me and said, ‘Mum, you need to get help.’"

Demi reacted to her mother's honesty by supporting her admissions. "I told you she was my hero. There aren't many parents speaking out about how they got through a time when their child was spiraling out of control and how she was able to set an example for parents everywhere by dealing with issues of her own and what she went through... I love you mom and I'm so proud of you."

Through her long journey, Demi feels she can lead others suffering from mental illness to receive the treatment they need.

"My words of encouragement to teen girls that are suffering from eating disorders, self-harm, anything is to get help," she said backstage at Couric's show. "That's the most important thing that you can do for yourself. It can change your life and potentially save your life."

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