Three Important Lessons on Dealing With Mental Health From Demi Lovato

This week marks the return of Demi Lovato with her six studio album “Tell Me You Love Me”. But with the launch of her summer hit “Sorry, not Sorry” and the anticipation of her upcoming album, we are sure to expect a few more raw and unapologetic songs that will continue to showcase Demi’s ability to channel her thoughts and feelings through her music.

About a year ago, Demi announced that she was taking time to remove herself from music and spotlight as she felt she was “not meant for this business and the media.” At the time, she received backlash for speaking up about the unrealistic bodies of women in the industry (specifically Taylor Swift model girl squad), and she didn’t think it was a fair message to be sending out to women who don’t naturally look that way. As a self-proclaimed feminist, Demi spoke to Glamour in November 2016 saying, “To be honest, and this will probably get me in trouble, I don’t see anybody in any sort of squad that has a normal body. It’s kind of this false image of what people should look like. And what they should be like, and it’s not real.” She goes on to say, “I think that having a song and a video about tearing Katy Perry down, that’s not women’s empowerment. We all do things that aren’t, but I have to ask myself, ‘Am I content with calling myself a feminist?’ Yes, because I speak out.”

In the past few years, Demi has publically spoke about her love hate relationship with being a public figure in the spotlight and how it has caused many significant issues that have sparked her decision to want to bring light to discussing and sharing her own personal dealings with mental illness.

On September 25th, Demi Lovato was announced the Mental Health Ambassador for Global Citizen. Her new position will allow her to focus on specific initiatives that bring light to the stigma that is usually attached with speaking about mental illness. She has hopes of breaking the silence and ensuring that more people feel comfortable speaking up about their own issues and struggles.

Her mission is to “focus on vulnerable communities around the world.” She believes that “with [Global Citizen’s] support and our combined platforms, I will be able to further my work around some of the issues I deeply care about as it relates to mental health and well-being around the world.”

First step, opening up and accepting your struggles and seeking help.

She believes that talking openly about mental illness “creates a conversation – there’s an opening for children themselves to actually come forward and say, ‘This is what I’m dealing with.’ Or, ‘I have a problem, I need help.’

In 2011, Demi was diagnosed with a Bipolar Disorder. With this diagnosis, she has shared the impact that self-harm has had on her, and her well-being. She sought treatment for this in 2011 as well as bulimia and addiction. When she first publically spoke about her disorder in 2015, she shared that she initially was afraid to speak about it, as she “she didn’t want anyone to think badly [of her].” Since then, she has infamously been know for no longer holding back her voice and she has gotten the courage to speak up and inspire others to speak out about mental health in hope of breaking the silence on these diseases.

“When you’re an artist, you have a platform that can reach millions. I feel it’s selfish when you don’t use your voice, because then you’re just relishing the attention—you’re not using it for good.”

Not Apologizing for your Flaws, but Embracing Them:

Demi has found a way to be comfortable in her own skin. She has opened up about her past insecurities, and the with the way she feels about her looks and appearance, as the pressure of being perfect, and beautiful in the eyes of the entertainment industry became an incredible force that brought on an unhealthy relationship with herself as she became bulimic and turned to self-harm. After many years of struggling with a body image issue that was brought on by the pressure from the likes of Disney and other industry pressures, she finally is able to embrace her flaws and be okay with the person she is. “I think scars are like battle wounds – beautiful in a way. They show what you’ve been through and how strong you are for coming out of it.”

In 2015, she agreed to pose nude in Vanity Fair magazine with an agreement that she would have no clothing, no make-up, and no retouches to her images.

“Sometimes you just have to say F the photoshop, what’s wrong with being confident?” This was an incredibly brave moment for Demi, as she finally was able to embrace her beauty, and not apologize for not being perfect and admit that she too has flaws, but is real.

“If I’m able to use my voice to do good in the world, then I definitely want to do that.”

Dealing With the Recovery and Keeping Healthy:

“Recovery is something that you have to work on every single day and it’s something that doesn’t get a day off.”

As of March 2017, she celebrated being five years sober. Demi has now shifted her focus to continuing to maintain a healthy and positive lifestyle. With her recent partnership with Kate Hudson’s fitness clothing brand Fabletics, Demi is able to pick and choose projects and roles that align with her values and beliefs.

“I never thought I’d be in such a great place. That’s the beauty of working on yourself and taking care of yourself. You get the places where you never thought you’d be.”

All of her hard work and bravery has not gone unnoticed. She has been recognized with many awards for her commitment to this issue. These accolades include, GLAAS Vanguard Award, the Artistic Award of Courage, and the Mental Health Advocacy Award. Last year, she also was a speaker at the National Democratic Convention where she shed light on the importance of speaking publicly about this once taboo topic. With her new role as Mental Health Ambassador, there is no doubt that she will take every chance she can to ensure that her voice is heard and her mark is left on the people in communities around the world who need it most.

“Never be ashamed of what you feel. You have the right to feel any emotion that you want, and to do what makes you happy. That’s my life motto”.

Author: Lindsay Mitchell