Diagnosed with a bipolar disorder in 2010 at the age of 22, Demi Lovato has become an advocate for therapy and treatment. The popular singer/songwriter talks openly about her bouts with severe depression, eating disorder and willingness to do self-harm, along with how alone she felt until she was properly diagnosed.
Becoming a mental health advocate
Mental health advocacy has become of passion of hers since the diagnosis, and now the famous singer is the proud spokesperson for the Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health campaign. It is dedicated to informing people about mental illness, along with what to do to ensure you get the help you need. With an estimated 10 million people in the United States living with bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, campaigns are an important educational tool.
What is Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health?
Be Vocal provides encouragement for men and women with bipolar disorder. It also offers advice that is geared to help people speak up about mental health issues in their personal lives, and in the community. Some of the topics discussed include,
- Factors to consider before discussing your bipolar disorder with others.
- Questions you might want to ask any mental health care provider you are considering.
- How to be open and honest about your symptoms with the people on your support team.
There are even helpful guidelines on what should be or not be said to someone that is depressed. Since this campaign is geared to bring mental health awareness to the public, you can even find a worksheet that will help you plan a small speech detailing your experiences with bipolar disorder.
Demi’s not afraid to speak up
Even though many celebrities are still reluctant to discuss health issues in public, Demi is using hers as a way to help raise awareness so others with bipolar disorder can get the treatment they need. She openly shares the discussions she had with her business manager and family on whether it was the right decision to make her struggles public, instead of simply hoping that everyone would forget. Thankfully she decided to be open about her stay in rehab and the reasons she found herself in that situation, and now she is one more voice in the struggle to take the stigma away from mental illness.
She states, “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.”
Bipolar and misdiagnosis
Misdiagnoses are common when it comes to bipolar disorder, and this means that in some cases it can take years before it is properly identified. Demi Lovato is familiar with this scenario, since it happened to her. She talks about being constantly told by friends and family that she was just depressed, along with how upsetting it was to not understand why she was having episodes of mania. Like millions of others with bipolar disorder, Demi also didn’t recognize her behavior as manic.
It was during these periods of manic behavior that she would stay up till 5 in the morning writing songs, sometimes composing as many as 7 in one night. Feelings of invincibility were common, and she also states that it was in these moments that her mind was never still. All of these are common symptoms of bipolar disorder, and when it is not properly diagnosed it often leads to self-medication. When you don’t understand why you feel or are behaving in a certain way self-medicating often seems like the best answer. This typically leads to addiction, another common symptom associated with bipolar disorder.
There’s still hope
It is important to Demi for her fans and everyone else that might be experiencing the same problems to realize that there is hope. She goes on to explain, “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 health mind, but I’m able to maintain my sobriety.”
She often talks about her feelings of relief when she was finally diagnosed. Simply finding out that it is a mental illness that can be successfully treated eases a lot of stress. It is important for people to realize that there is nothing wrong with them, their actions and emotions are a result of a chemical imbalance.
Working on recovery everyday
Recovery is something that Demi is working on every day. She compares bipolar disorder to having a car repaired. Unlike a vehicle that only needs a certain problem fixed once, a mental illness is something that has to be worked on every day. Whenever she is asked about being tempted to fall back into old behavior patterns, Demi is not afraid to admit that there are times with it is difficult. What keeps her committed to her recovery/treatment plan are thoughts of her friends, family and fans. She knows that they look up to her, and she “doesn’t want anyone to think that it’s okay to go back on what they stand for”.
One way Demi is able to maintain her sobriety and mental health is through exercise. She typically works out for 60 to 90 minutes a day.
Favorite Demi Lovato quotes
“Happiness is a choice. Life is a roller coaster. You can make the highs as amazing as possible, and you can control how low the lows go.”
“I’ve never felt more comfortable and confident in my skin than I did today… recovery and body acceptance IS possible!”1