Demi Lovato has defended her decision to speak openly about her struggles with bulimia and bipolar disorder, saying that she has realised the power she has to encourage young people to seek help.
The 23-year-old former Disney star appears on the cover of Allure magazine this month, and has revealed the surprising amount of backlash she has received as a result of her mental health advocacy.
“I’ll have people who are like, ‘Stop talking about eating disorders. Like, we get it. You struggled. Now shut up,'” the singer and actress said.
Lovato said she made the decision to go public with her mental health struggles because of her young fan base.
“I realised I could help people,” she said.
“[Speaking out] 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.'”
While Lovato said that she did sometimes get tired of talking about her past body image struggles, recent commentary on her wardrobe choices made her realise that she can’t drop the conversation.
“I’m sure [people] get tired of reading about it, because I get tired of talking about it, but this summer I started wearing sexier stuff, and I got some hate for that – like, ‘You’ve changed.’ It’s like, What’s wrong with being confident enough to wear this?”
In November 2010. Lovato began treatment at Timberline Knolls, a US rehabilitation centre specialising in treating girls and women with eating disorders and mood disorders.
Her entry into treatment came following an incident while on tour with the Jonas Brothers, in which she reportedly punched a backup dancer.
A year earlier, the Camp Rock star had been photographed with cutting scars on her wrists.
After leaving rehab in January 2011, Lovato told People that while she had “battled depression from a really young age” and was aware she had an eating disorder, she was only diagnosed with bipolar disorder while undergoing treatment.
“Looking back it makes sense,” she said. “There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I’d be up until 5:30 in the morning.”
In 2012, a documentary detailing Lovato’s journey post-rehab aired on MTV.
“I cannot tell you that I have not thrown up since I treatment. I cannot tell you that I haven’t cut myself since treatment,” she said said in the documentary. In another scene, Lovato said she agreed to take part in the documentary because “some girl out there needed to hear this story tonight”.