Demi Lovato has never been shy about sharing their personal story. Back in 2011, the now-28-year-old entered rehab, where they were diagnosed with bipolar disorder after years of struggling with bulimia, cutting, and drug addiction.
Now, the singer of hit songs such as “Heart Attack” and “Skyscraper” is the spokesperson for a campaign called Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health. The initiative focuses on encouraging people with mental illness to speak up, as well as for others to raise their voices in support of changing the way mental illness is talked about and breaking down the stigma surrounding it.
“It’s a passion of mine—mental health advocacy—and I’ve decided to partner up with Be Vocal because it’s something that’s really powerful when it comes to not only informing people about what mental illness is, but also what you can do to get help,” the singer tells WomensHealthMag.com. Demi wants women to know that “it’s possible to live well, feel well, and also find happiness with bipolar disorder or any other mental illness they’re struggling with.”
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While many celebs try to keep personal health issues out of the press, Demi wants to raise awareness and help others in need. “I remember sitting with my manager and my family and talking to them about whether or not to speak out about the issues that I was dealing with,” Demi says. “I knew that there were two options: I could either not talk about my stint in rehab and hope that it went away, or I could talk about it and inspire people to get help for their issues, as well, so that’s exactly what I did.”
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, about 5.7 million American adults have bipolar disorder. What’s more, it can often take years for someone to get the correct diagnosis. This is what happened to Demi. “For years, people said I was depressed, and I actually didn’t know myself why I was so upset and why I would have these episodes of mania—what I now know is mania,” the singer says.
During these manic periods, Demi would stay up until 5 a.m. and write seven songs in one night. “Sometimes I felt invincible, and it was these moments when my mind would go all over the place,” the former Disney Channel star says. Not knowing what was behind the behavior led to addiction. “When you don’t know what’s happening, why you’re feeling certain ways, and you don’t have the answers yet, people tend to self-medicate, which is exactly what I did,” Demi says. “Now I know that when I focus on my treatment plan with my team and my support system, I’m able to not only maintain a healthy mind, but I’m able to maintain my sobriety.”
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Demi was relieved when she finally got the diagnosis. “I went into treatment and I was able to work with incredible doctors who helped me figure out that I was, in fact, bipolar, the two-time Grammy nominee says. “It was a great feeling to find out that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I just had a mental illness.”
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