Demi Lovato on her bipolar disorder: ‘I treat it with medication, for me it works’

CFL Summer '14 Cover Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato covers the new issue of Cosmopolitan for Latinas, and she is named their 2014 their “Fun, Fearless Latina of 2014.” I have to admit, I’m sort of impressed with the changes Demi has made to her life over the past few years. I even find myself singing along to a few of Demi’s songs on the radio. She got new songwriters, right? Because her music sounds really different. So, while I’m happy that Demi has been able to heal and find a healthier place, I still worry that her boyfriend Wilmer Valderrama is still bad news, has always been bad news and will eventually be what takes her down again. But for now, let’s celebrate Demi’s successes. Some highlights:

Being lonely as a child/teen performer: “It was that loneliness you get when you’re sad and it’s the middle of the night, and even though you have family and friends to call, it’s hard to pick up the phone.” By her teens, she’d fallen into a familiar pattern: well-publicized bouts with bulimia, drug abuse, and self-mutilation. The spiral continued with a rehab stint and a canceled tour.

She celebrated her last birthday in Kenya with Free the Children charity: “I was used to drinking and doing drugs on my birthday. I always imagined my 21st being a huge party where I’d get shit-faced and go crazy. But I realized that there’s so much more to life than that. Imagine walking 10 miles a day just to get water for your family? We have so much to be grateful for.”

On inspiring young girls: “When I was younger, I needed someone in the spotlight to idolize, who stood for positivity and light and happiness, and wanted to change the world. And because I didn’t have that, I realized, I want to do that, if only for my 12-year-old little sister.”

On keeping her bipolar disorder in check: “It’s a daily thing. I treat it with medication. Not everybody does that, but for me it works. That’s what works for me – medicating, checking in with people, being honest, and being grateful for things.”

On her career: “I’m very proud of how far I’ve come, but I definitely want to win a Grammy one day, and I dream of winning an Oscar. I want to continue to tour and build my fan base and make music that will last for decades.”

On when she feels the sexiest: “I feel sexiest when I’m comfortable – this means when I’m in my element onstage, and also when I’m wearing a T-shirt, jeans, my leather jacket, and no makeup!”

[From Cosmopolitan for Latinas]

I like that she’s talking about being medicated for her bipolar disorder. It’s refreshing considering that the last time we talked about this kind of issue was when Amanda Bynes’ mother claimed that Amanda’s past behavior was just marijuana-related, and that Amanda was not on any medication. Some people don’t believe in pharmaceutical treatment for chemical disorders like bipolar, and that’s their right. But my take is that if you’re like Demi or Britney Spears, pharmaceuticals can help a great deal. You just have to find the right drug and the right dosage.


Photos courtesy of Matt Jones/Cosmo.

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33 Responses to “Demi Lovato on her bipolar disorder: ‘I treat it with medication, for me it works’”

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  1. Erinn says:

    I kind of love the black shirt with the shiny parts.

    It’s nice to hear her talking about having to medicate, and making it not seem like such a foreign thing. Not that kids should find people like her a ‘role model’, but at least she might reach even one child with this message and make them feel better.

    She’s grown on me. I really didn’t think much of her when she was promoting the whole “sober is sexy” and still taking drugs and drinking quite a bit. She seems to have gotten it together now, and it’s nice to see.

    • Crank says:

      I like how she’s not shoving the medication thing in everyone’s faces. As a teacher, I’m wary about drugging every disorder and this and that because parents and some doctors go overboard. If the child loses his personality or is a zombie due to meds, then there needs to be a dosage/meds change. One kid in the 2nd grade had to be sent to the hospital because she was pretty much overdosed on meds…and all she took was the prescribed prescription. I don’t want to start a ‘you shouldn’t drug your child/don’t make excuses’ argument, but for any parents reading: listen to your child’s teacher, and consider some changes/options if your child loses his personality or becomes ‘mellow’.
      Anywho, I love Demi. Like some of her music, and seems to be in the right direction.

      • A~ says:

        Bipolar disorder is a well-documented and life-threatening disease. Medicating it is not the same thing as giving a restless kid some Ritalin. Also, she’s a grown woman, not a kid.

      • Crank says:

        @A I’m sorry, did you not read my post? I’m fine with Demi, said nothing about her being wrong using meds, and didn’t compare her to a kid. It’s just the drug stuff is on my mind and I was throwing out some random thoughts that’s been going through my head since I’ve dealing with parents who drug their children to no end. I’m GLAD meds are working for her and bipolar disorder…my point was that I’m happy she’s not all ‘every person should use drugs to cure disorders!’ like dumbass Jenny who told everyone to stop vaccinating.

    • Leen says:

      I agree. I really like how she talks openly about treating her bipolar with medication but at the same time not shoving it down people’s throats and saying it’s what works for her. There’s such a stigma around medication and mental illness, I appreciate it when someone like Demi talks about it honestly.

      • lucy2 says:

        Completely agree. It has to be tough to speak publicly on it, but I would hope that it helps a lot of other people facing the same thing. You’re so right about the stigma, and openess and information is important to battle that.

        I don’t really follow her work at all, just the gossipy stuff, but I really wish her well. And if she wants to step up and try to be a good role model, for the young kids in her life and kids everywhere too, that’s awesome.

      • kri says:

        Bi-polar is a really diffcult thing to live with. I hope she stays well. Get rid of that leech Wilmer.

  2. Dani2 says:

    I feel like she’s had a positive message for a few years now, and I’ve always liked her for that. I can’t seem to get into her music though, which is a shame because she has an amazing voice.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Sounds like she’s growing up and might get her wish to be a good role model for young girls. I like that she’s talking about dealing with her challenges from her bipolar disorder. There is still such a stigma and so much misinformation surrounding mental illness. I was glad she mentioned medication and attitude. I wish she had mentioned exercise, which I think is vital for depression. Maybe bipolar is different.

    Good luck to her.

  4. Aurie says:

    Real responsible with those semi naked bed pictures recently leaked……

    • vangroovey says:

      I’ll be in the minority here, but this position will always confuse me. Well, not confuse, but confounds, maybe. Sex is everywhere — blatantly, subtly….you name it. The pictures she leaked look like a perfume ad. I mean, the main reason we get all uptight about “sexy times” is because of religion. (Of course having safe sex is important, but I assume she is.)

      • Samtha says:

        The main reason we get uptight about “sexy times” is sexism/misogyny, but otherwise, I agree with you. And I think we’re too quick to condemn/dismiss people because of one action we disagree with. Demi has a good message for kids, and those photos don’t diminish that.

        (I’ve said it before here on Celebitchy, but Demi’s honesty helped my step-daughter come forward about her cutting problem and eating disorder. We were able to get her help, and it’s been a long process, but she’s gotten so much better. I’ll forever root for Demi for that alone.)

  5. Arhodo says:

    Demi, go away. While you’re at it, take Selena and Miley with you!

  6. Mouse says:

    I always thought Demi wrote her own songs. Does anyone know for sure? For some reason I hope she does

  7. paola says:

    I wish more young celebrities were more like her.
    She is no perfect and that’s her greatness: admitting where she is faulty will help thousand of people.

  8. ldub says:

    you’re right about “just have to find the right drug and the right dosage” as a sufferer myself you have to get the dosage right; that and therapy works for me but everyone’s chemical makeup is different so to each his own.

    • bipolarmama says:

      The right drug and dosage is so important, that and a good doctor…it took my daughter’s attempt to kill herself to realize a switch in doctors was needed – she was on way too high of dosage plus the medicine caused suicidal feelings and all our talk of it’s not working for her, this can’t be right, she is like a zombie did nothing because she is over 18 and when she said it, the doctor just kept upping the dosage because that would make it work. This is such a prominent doctor in our area and we were the villains with family for leaving. Not so much anymore, but it is a long road back, she had to take a medical leave of absence from school and is just slowly returning to normal.

      • Snazzy says:

        OMG i’m so sorry to hear that! I hope you’re all ok now!!

        *sending hugs*

      • Alyssa Callaway says:

        Agree so so much. The right doctor, dosage and drugs (or combination of drugs and therapy) can make all the difference. My current doctor and counselor have been I feel like everyone should feel able to use whatever method for treating their illness that works for them, because there is no one-size fits all. It’s a shame that mental illness/disorders still has such a stigma and I’m glad that people like Demi (and my fave, Stephen Fry) come out and talk about it. I’m not ashamed, but I’ve been told by family members to never tell anyone I’m bipolar. I mean, it’s part of who I am, but people are judgy I guess.

  9. MonicaQ says:

    Holy. Crap. Someone in hollywood with a mental disorder that doesn’t a) treat it like it’s fashionable or b) says it can be cured by sunshine and puppy farts and they were sad once but not anymore through the power of BOOTSTRAPS!

    I actually almost teared up a bit.

  10. Mzizkrizten says:

    So she’s struggle with weight and the mag thought it good to mention burning those last five pounds right on her chest lol

  11. Steph says:

    I had a bout of depression and a low dose medication plus therapy helped me get out of it. I’ve been able to come off the medication* but I believe if it wasn’t there that I would have never been able to get out of that fog. I still go to therapy once a week just to keep my mind clear.

    *i think the reason I was able to come off the medication is because my depression was caused by a “perfect storm” as my doctor said. I had a 2 year period that was extremely hard but no past problems and no family history. The reason I’m saying this is bc I don’t want someone to read this and think that it would be right for them to just up and stop their meds. You need to talk to your doctor about it!

  12. QQ says:

    now we just need you to ditch Wilmer Valderrama from your life for-e-ver Sis!

  13. Lucinda says:

    I wish her the best. Bipolar disorder is a tough one. I think her answer was honest and appropriate. Good on her. I hope her medication continues to work for her.

  14. Jenna says:

    Its different (and difficult) for everyone with bipolar disorder and some do the best on medication. Some don’t. I really appreciate that she is willing to own what she is doing to keep on top of things as best as she can and that helps loosen just a chunk of the stigma the disorder has lodged on the minds of so many. I’m a lucky wench that I can keep things pretty much rolling without (I’ve been blessed always with, even in the midst of the worst of it, to know it was the the disease causing the absolute lows and highs and that, if I can just hang on a bit longer, the pendulum swings. To be able to step outside the manias and see just enough ahead to keep myself breathing when pulled back under a wave) as well as sadly not seemingly able to find a med that WOULD fit. Sometimes the chemical makeup of a person’s brain does AWESOME on meds. And sometimes… not so much. In my case, the meds nearly killed me. But I can’t help but feel that each time someone in the public eye is willing to say “I need this help, I have this part of me, I am not going to go it alone” they light up the way for so many others and yes even save lives. I might not case all that much for her music (no shade, just not my type of jam) but for being so truthful, I have to admit to being rather impressed. It’s incredibly hard on the really young, and each little girl or boy she can convince there is a way out is huge.

    • Faith says:

      I feel my medication really helps me with my highs not so much my low moods though but as fun as highs are and I can miss them I realise I am a better more stable person without them. But prozac drove me utterly mad I went from high to low within half a day of each other sometimes its trail and error sometimes people are lucky to be able to go without.

  15. JenniferJustice says:

    Glad to hear she’s doing good and seems stable. Aside from meds, the best treatment she can do for herself is to stay away from gross men who seek to control her and put her down. Yes, I’m talking about you, Wilmer Valderama!

  16. Lili says:

    Medication sure does help some people. If Demi Lovato is one of them, I’m happy for her. I’m also happy that a celebrity talks about mental issues and medication openly. That helps lessen the stigma around it!

  17. themummy says:

    People that don’t “believe” in meds for bipolar can kiss my ass. It’s one thing to decide for yourself as a bipolar person not to make that choice, but blanket statements about meds just irk me. If not for my meds, bipolar would have killed me at least a decade ago. It seems nuts to me that there are people out there who actually think I should stop my meds because *they* don’t believe in using pharmaceuticals. A week off my meds and I’d be dead, dead, dead. On my meds, I get to go to a major university and teach literature and composition every day, go for hikes and do yoga every morning, play with my dogs, and laugh at jokes. It’s glorious (compared to the alternative, for sure–obvious life as a bipolar person is not generally “glorious” because it’s really, really difficult). I prefer it to dead. Good for her for speaking openly about it. That takes guts. People can be such judgy assholes.