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Demi Lovato opens up about her struggles with mental illness and sobriety

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Kayleigh Dray
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“When I was 12, I turned to drugs and alcohol,” says Demi Lovato. “At the rate that I was using and drinking, I wasn’t going to live a long life…”

Demi Lovato has never been afraid to speak up about her mental health battles; since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2011, she has been vocal about her struggles with addiction, self-harm, anorexia, and bulimia.

Now, in an emotional interview with Dr Phil, Lovato has revealed that her issues with depression began very early in her childhood – and that she struggled with suicidal thoughts when she was just seven years old.

In a preview clip for The Dr Phil Show, Lovato says: “The very first time I was suicidal was when I was seven… [and], when I was bullied when I was 12, I turned to drugs and alcohol. At the rate that I was using and drinking, I wasn’t going to live a long life.

“I turned to cutting. Every time I cut it got deeper and deeper.”

Lovato goes on to confirm that she was eventually diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, which is something she has spoken about very candidly in the past. Just two years ago, for example, the singer sat down with People to talk about how the illness affects her day-to-day life – and reassured her fans that “it is possible to live well” with mental illness.

“I’m living proof of that,” she said.

Describing her day-to-day life as a “work in progress”, Lovato explained that she has incredible support from her family and friends – and praised her treatment team for being there for her every single step of the way.

“They’re there for me at any moment of the day and will be there to support me throughout my recovery,” the Skyscraper singer said. “That relationship is ongoing – it’s not something where you see a therapist once a month, or your psychiatrist once. It’s something you have to maintain to make sure that you want to live with mental illness.

“You have to take care of yourself.”

Lovato has also opened up about the importance of attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings on a regular basis – and recently revealed to Billboard that she left the 2016 Met Gala to attend one, because an unnamed celebrity had made her feel so uncomfortable that she had considered having a drink.

Instead, she text her manager and went straight to an AA meeting.

“I changed my clothes, but I still had my diamonds on – millions of dollars of diamonds on in an AA meeting,” she said. “And I related more to the homeless people in that meeting who struggled with the same struggles that I deal with than the people at the Met Gala – fake and sucking the fashion industry’s d*ck.”

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org.

Images: Rex Features

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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