The Scoop: In a new interview with the British magazine Fabulous, former Disney star Demi Lovato is finally opening up about the breakdown that propelled her to abandon a worldwide concert tour and enter rehab for three months in late 2010. As the now 20-year old Lovato recalls, spiraling drug use, bulimia, depression, and self-injury all played a role in why she finally made the decision to seek treatment.
“What I can say is that I was depressed,” Lovato reveals about her state of mind. “I would come off stage in front of 18,000 people and suddenly be alone in a hotel room. I’d come crashing down and would try to find a way to recreate that feeling, to stay up.”
Demi attempted to alleviate her depressive symptoms by using a combination of alcohol and illicit drugs, reportedly cocaine, as a way to self-medicate. She also admits to struggling with bulimia. The eating disorder, marked by bingeing, typically on high carbohydrate foods, and then purging foods through vomiting, use of laxatives, or excessive exercise, is a condition that is strongly associated with depression; as recent research has shown, a history of depression may be present in approximately half of all people diagnosed with an eating order.
In another attempt to “block the pain” of depression, Demi then turned to self-mutilation, in the form of cutting.
“You do it because you feel so bad inside. You don’t know how to take it out other than on yourself,” she recalls. “It started with my wrists. People saw that, so I cut in places they couldn’t see.”
Cutting is a common form of non-suicidal self injury (NSSI), or self-injurious behavior with the intent to inflict physical harm as a way to relieve emotional distress, but not to end one’s life. Other methods of NSSI include burning, biting, scraping or scratching skin, hitting, interfering with wound healing and skin picking. NSSI frequently co-occurs with depression or can be considered a maladaptive behavior associated with borderline personality disorder. As studies show, approximately 4% of the U.S. population engages in NSSI, with teen girls and women most likely to self injure.
Precipitating Demi entering rehab was a backstage “meltdown” that led to a fist fight with one of the show’s dancers. Rather than go on with the tour, the singer opted to finally seek a way out of the cycle of depression and self-destructive behavior.
After three months of in-patient rehab beginning in November 2010, Demi says the experience helped her learn how to manage her emotions through more positive means, a process she is working to perfect.
“I’m learning how to cope with issues, and cope with urges, and things like that, in healthy ways,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America last year. “Like, I’ve picked up knitting. I like, who would ever thought that, like, I knit on a Saturday night, like. Watching TV. I totally do. I’m a knitter.”
In her most recent 2012 interview, Demi seems to have developed perspective on what contributed to her problems in the past — and what she can do now to take care of her mental health.
“I thought I was having fun,” she tells Fabulous. “Being a celebrity can be dangerous. Nobody says no”.
“That’s why so many end up overdosing and dying. It could definitely have happened to me.”