Nearly halfway through Mental Health Awareness Month, Demi Lovato opened up about her experiences with bipolar disorder, gender fluidity and dealing with the spotlight during a candid talk at the inaugural Hollywood & Mind Summit Thursday (May 11).
As someone who’s both struggled with mental illness and has been in the public eye since childhood, the 30-year-old star says it’s been a long road to the self-acceptance she now feels. In 2011, 18-year-old Lovato revealed they’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and has been open over the years about battling substance abuse issues and eating disorders. In 2018, she was hospitalized after a near-fatal heroin overdose.
But the singer has come a long way since then. “I feel like I am in control now, where my whole life I wasn’t in control,” Lovato said during an onstage open discussion at Thursday’s summit in Los Angeles, according to People.
Prior to the bipolar diagnosis, the Camp Rock actress recalled feeling deeply confused about their mental state. “It was things like, I remember being 15 years old on a tour bus and watching fans follow my bus with posters and trying to get me to wave outside the window. And all I could do was just sit there and cry,” Lovato said. “And I remember being in the back of my tour bus watching my fans and crying and being like, ‘Why am I so unhappy?’ “
“I was so relieved that I had finally had a diagnosis,” Lovato added, noting that it wasn’t until she sought treatment for anorexia and bulimia that she found out about her bipolar disorder. “I had spent so many years struggling, and I didn’t know why I was a certain way in dealing with depression at such extreme lows, when I seemingly had the world in front of me just ripe with opportunities.”
Now that they’re in a better place, Lovato explained that doing things like ignoring comments on Instagram — even positive ones — are important to preserving that inner peace. “If I see something negative, it’s going to hurt my feelings, and if I see something positive, it’s going to feed into that outside validation that I’ve worked so hard to not need, and that goes back to my child star days of needing outside validation,” the musician said.
“So, I don’t look at comments because [they’re] either going to hurt me or feed that.”
Still, some days are better than others, said Lovato, who also noted she still struggles with anxiety sometimes and is still navigating the sometimes difficult terrain of gender expression. “I’m a very fluid person,” said the Dancing With The Devil star. “My gender identity is sometimes fluid too. I identify more feminine on certain days and other days, I identify more non-binary.”
“I’m learning more about myself every day,” Lovato added. “That mentality of setting boundaries then taking a step back and [realizing], ‘No, this is actually what I want,’ is a journey I encourage everyone to [take].”