By Sheereen Charles
The road from Disney star to global singing sensation has not been easy for Demi Lovato, but she has stayed strong despite her many setbacks. The singer, songwriter, and actress made her debut as a child actress in Barney & Friends. In 2008, she skyrocketed to fame in the popular Disney Channel television film, Camp Rock. Disney followed up by giving her her own television series, Sonny with a Chance, which allowed her music career to also take off.
However in 2010, Demi put her career on hold to deal with physical and emotional issues. She revealed to the world that she was bullied as a child and suffered from extreme depression due to her negative body image. With nowhere to turn, she resorted to drugs, alcohol, and self-abuse to numb the pain. The situation came to a head when Demi reportedly punched one of her female dancers, Alex Welch. In response, her management and family convinced her to go to rehab. As a result, she withdrew from the Jonas Brothers Live in Concert tour and all other engagements indefinitely and entered a treatment facility.
While in treatment, Lovato was diagnosed with bulimia, bipolar disorder, and addiction. Despite the stigma surrounding mental disorders, Demi believes that it is “okay to have a mental illness”. Her father, Patrick also suffered from similar illnesses before he passed away in 2013. To combat stereotypes those with mental disorders face every day, Demi launched her own campaign focused on dealing with the negative connotation of mental illness. “I just think mental illness is something people need to learn more about. I want people to know it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to have a mental illness,” she says. Demi remembers watching her father “live a very unfortunate life because of the lack of access to treatment.” In his honor, she wrote the song ‘Father’ and created the Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program, which helps pay for treatment costs for people struggling with mental health and/or addiction issues.
The pop star says that she is now doing well in her own life and has successfully completed rehab. She thanks her friends and family for having the courage to tell her that she needed help. She also cites her boyfriend, actor Wilmer Valderrama, for her happiness. Valderrama has dated Demi for over 5 years, and her family says he has always been helpful and supportive.
Lovato states: “I’m doing really well. I’m successful, but most importantly I’m healthy and happy, and I do not let my disease define who I am.” In late 2015, she came out with her highly anticipated album Confident. Demi admits that she never used to be confident in her own skin, but nowadays she is feeling sexy and assertive. With this album, the singer, songwriter, and actress showed the world that you can go from having little to no confidence to being proud of what you look like and who you are.