Demi Lovato on Drugs, Airbrushing and Kristen Stewart: “I’m An Open Book”
Demi Lovato says she’s “had three lifetimes in one.”The 21-year-old went from adorable but sad child star to troubled teen to, most recently, recovering addict. It’s a transformation that has played out for the public, and the singer tells the Daily Mail’s You magazine that she’s now fully comfortable embracing that spotlight.
“When you are no longer hiding anything, you don’t worry about what is going to get out,” says the singer. “I don’t care who knows about my life, and now that I am an open book a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
Lovato says she views herself as a “beacon of hope for the next generation,” and there’s no doubt her journey may leave some kids scared straight. The star says her substance abuse started with pain pills she was prescribed after a car accident, explaining, “I liked the feeling they gave me – they sort of numbed everything — and I also liked the sneakiness of taking extra pills out of my mom’s bag without her knowing.”
The pills led to excessive alcohol use and even sneaking cocaine on airplanes, along with a wild streak that her family couldn’t seem to suppress as her fame grew. “Everything skyrocketed, which was awesome, but the negative side was that I thought, ‘Right, I am working like an adult so I should be able to party like an adult,'” recalls Lovato. She goes on, “I was making a bunch of money and when my parents would get on to me for drinking and staying out, I would say, ‘I pay the bills, so what are you going to do?'” “I was riding this wave of entitlement and superiority and they were in an impossible position because there’s no manual that explains how to deal with the sort of teenager I was,” says Lovato.
Matters were further complicated by an eating disorder, and it all came to a head when she punched one of her backup dancers on a flight. Lovato remembers, “I was performing concerts on an empty stomach. I was losing my voice from purging. I was self-medicating and I was so emotionally whacked out that I took it out on someone that meant a lot to me.”
It wasn’t until the star’s mother told her she would no longer be permitted to see her little sister, actress Madison De La Garza, if she didn’t get help that Lovato started changing her tune. “Mom saying that made me realize that my life was a shambles and, although I had a lot of success, I was also very alone and miserable,” she says. “I love Madison and one of the main reasons I wanted to get better was because I didn’t want to be apart from her.”
Another turning point came when Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she tells the magazine that the news “made sense.” She explains, “I’d been living with this mania – moments when I was up all night writing songs, thinking I could take on the world, and also these deep, dark depressions, when all I wanted to do was shut the door and not talk to anyone. And that is why I had been isolating myself — to try to deal with the pain.”
Lovato is now more than two-years sober, but there have been additional highs and lows along the way, including the death of her father and meeting the older half-sister she never knew at his funeral. “She said she had never made contact with me before because she hadn’t wanted me to think that she wanted something from me. Since becoming famous, I have had tons of cousins who have come out of the woodwork, so to have a sister who held back -– it made me realize I could trust her,” says the former “X Factor” judge. They learned they had “similar experiences and issues,” and Lovato notes, “We are both strong and we have got through them. And we are definitely staying in touch.”
And Lovato has focused on channeling her negative urges into less damaging activities, such as getting tattoos. “When I was impulsive before, I was making bad choices, so this is a way of expressing myself that is harmless,” she says. “Some days, you just want to dye your hair pink, and I am not afraid to do that.”
She also regularly attends AA meetings, and will seek out the nearest session on the road because she starts to “feel wobbly” without the built-in support. “It’s being able to do that that makes me feel normal in this world that is not normal at all,” says Lovato, who notes that her approach to abstaining from alcohol is to take “one day at a time.” The star tells You, “If I think that I am never going to be able to have a glass of wine with dinner, I get anxious. And sometimes I do feel like I want to go to a bar and have some shots, but I know where I will be in six weeks’ or six months’ time if I do.”
“We are a different breed, we alcoholics, but it is just like having any other disease – you have to learn to live with it,” she points out, and she’s encouraging her sister to learn, too. When admitting she would tell her younger self “that she is going to be OK and she doesn’t need to get drunk or do drugs to be happy,” Lovato confesses that she has already told 12-year-old Madison “that if she waits until she is 21 to have her first drink, I’ll give her a million dollars!”
Of course, there is one subject Lovato is hesitant to discuss: her relationship with Wilmer Valderrama. “The problem when you go public with a personal relationship is that when it ends, it ends publicly as well,” she explains. Still, the former Disney Channel star gives a hint as to why she and the actor work together when she says, “I would be slightly overwhelming for somebody who is not at a level of maturity to support me mentally.”
Aside from tour mate Christina Perri, Kristen Stewart is the only other celebrity Lovato mentions by name, declaring the actress her “style icon.” “Kristen Stewart looks like she doesn’t give a damn in her day-to-day life, but when it comes to the red carpet she cleans up,” says Lovato.
Lovato, of course, looks pretty great herself, but she admits to not always feeling that way and says she embraces Photoshopping. “I wouldn’t say I am comfortable in my skin today. I’m having one of those once-a-month moments when I’ve got a little belly and my clothes don’t fit. But I’m a woman and that happens, so thank goodness for airbrushing,” she says. Lovato continues, “Real-life beauty is fine for selfies and Twitter, but when it comes to photo shoots, well, airbrushing is no bad thing.”
What do you think of Lovato’s candid interview?