Demi Lovato Opens Up to Ellen About Her Eating Disorder and Recovery

Hats off to Demi Lovato!

Lovato, 19, opened up on Ellen about the medical conditions that landed her in rehab.

As you may recall, the young singer/actress,  known for her roles in the “Camp Rock” movies and the sitcom “Sonny With a Chance,” entered rehab last November.

In 2009, Demi reported that she had to leave middle school because of bullying:

“It was more verbal harassment than physical abuse, but that’s actually more scarring than anything,” she said. “And I had to leave because I just couldn’t deal with it. And I’ve home-schooled ever since.”

On her Eating Disorder

She went on to have an eating disorder (“Anorexia- Purge/Binge type”, by her own account). In this kind of anorexia, a person will eat a large amount of food. This is followed by a sensation of overwhelming guilt which makes the person try to rid themself of it. They do this by forcing themselves to vomit, using laxatives or diuretics, fasting,  excess exercising or a combination of these tactics.

Other symptoms include:

  •  Chronically red and sore throat
  •  Swollen saliva glands in the neck and jaw
  • Worn tooth enamel, increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acid
  • Acid reflux disorder and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • Severe dehydration from purging of fluids
  • Electrolyte imbalance (too low or too high levels of sodium, calcium, potassium and other minerals) which can lead to heart attack

On Cutting

Demi also admitted to cutting, and alcohol and drug use.

Cutting is one variation of a spectrum of self injury disorders. Although the most common manifestation of self-injury involves cutting oneself with any sharp or jagged object, self-injury includes a wide range of other destructive behaviors, such as burning, wound interference/picking, hitting, and hair-pulling.

For these individuals, self- injury is a way of coping with painful feelings such as worthlessness, anger, guilt, helplessness, rejection, and self-hatred.  It becomes a physical expression of overwhelming internal emotions for some,  and serves to temporarily relieve stress and anxiety caused by these emotions in others.

On Being a Role Model

Demi says that she has gone public with her battles because she wants other young girls and women to know that there is help for what they are going through. That she want to be a role model to them:

I want to be that. There needs to be a role model out there. And for the first time in my life, I feel like one.

When I grew up it was the time when… very very skinny girls were on the cover of every magazine, and that’s who I looked up to. That’s what I had to idolize. I don’t want that for young girls to idolize.

It’s very unhealthy… There was nobody out there for me to look at and say, maybe this is unhealthy. Maybe starving myself isn’t the answer. So I want to be that for a 13-year-old girl at home deciding whether or not to eat dinner, or an 18-year-old deciding whether or not to keep her breakfast down.

Here’s part of the Ellen interview:

“Unbroken”

This week Demi released her first album since rehab. Entitled Unbroken, it already has a hit on it- “Skyscraper. ” In an interview with Seventeen.com, Lovato talks about the song:

This song is so special to me because it’s inspired by my journey and the struggles that I’ve dealt with this past year. I hope people are able to relate to it and realize that they are able to rise above and overcome any obstacle, no matter the circumstances, and shine like a skyscraper.

I think it is wonderful, and courageous for Demi to share her experience with young women. She’s right, there aren’t enough good role models for girls her age.

The media loves to cover the “bad behavior” of young women. So much attention has been paid to Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears, and Rhianna, especially  during their most difficult periods.

If you are someone dealing with any these issues, know that you are not alone and that help is available for you.

Links to support groups:

Cutting: S.A.F.E. Alternatives: http://www.selfinjury.com/

Eating Disorders: National Eating Disorders Association: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

Bullying: Teens Health: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/bullies.html

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

2 Comments

  1. Gianna

    September 25, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Demi Lovato is so inspirational. I’m so happy she’s back, and better than before. She’s my role model, and I love her. I wish her the best success, and I LOVE YOU DEMI!!!!!!

    • Dr. M

      September 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      I agree, she’s a tough gal and a good role model for young women.

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