Demi Lovato appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show this week, where she spoke for the first time in detail about what led to her drug overdose in July 2018. She broke her six-year sobriety just three months before, she told DeGeneres, in part because of the controlling nature of her old team and her unhappiness that grew over time.
I have to preface it with the fact that I got sober at 19. So I got sober at an age where I wasn’t even legally allowed to drink. I got the help that I needed at the time and I took on the approach of a one size fits all solution, which is sobriety, just sobriety. And so my whole team took that approach and we did it. And we ran with it, and it worked for a long time.
But I realized that over time as the things with the eating disorder were getting bad, I mean, over the years it got progressively worse and worse with people checking what my orders at Starbucks were on my bank statements. Just little things like that led me to being really, really unhappy. My bulimia got really bad and I asked for help and I didn’t receive the help that I needed. And so I was stuck in this unhappy position. Here I am sober and I’m thinking to myself, “I’m six years sober, but I’m miserable. I’m even more miserable than I was when I was drinking. Why am I sober?'”
And I sent a message out, and I reached out to the people that were on my team, and they responded with like, “You’re being very selfish. This would ruin things for not just you but for us as well.” And when I heard that, my core issues are abandonment from my birth father as a child. He was an addict, an alcoholic; like we had to leave him. And I have vivid memories of him leaving so when they left, they totally played on that fear, and I felt completely abandoned so I drank. That night I went to a party and there was other stuff there and it was only three months before I ended up in the hospital with an OD.
Lovato emphasized it was her choices that led her to recover today and be able to share her story:
And you know, ultimately, I made the decisions that got me to where I am today. It was my actions that put me in the position that I’m in. And I think it’s important that I sit here on this stage and tell you at home or you in the audience or you right here that if you do go through this, you yourself can get through it. You can get to the other side and it may be bumpy, but you are a 10 out of 10, like don’t forget it. And as long as you take the responsibility you can move past it and learn to love yourself the way you deserve to be loved.
She also spoke to DeGeneres about how her struggles with her eating disorder and her team’s control of the food she ate contributed to her abuse of drugs. DeGeneres pointed out that whenever Lovato came on the show, her team would always make sure there was no sugar around her.
“I didn’t know that until today too, but I lived a life for the past six years that I felt like wasn’t my own because I struggled really hard with an eating disorder, yes, and that was my primary problem and then it turned into other things,” Lovato said. “But my life, I just felt it was so…and I hate to use this word, but I felt it was controlled, by so many people around me.”
Lovato explained the lengths her old team went to control her eating versus her new team now:
If I was in my hotel room at night, they would take the phone out of the hotel room so I couldn’t call room service. Or if there was fruit in my room they would take it out because that was extra sugar. We’re not talking about brownies and cookies and candies and stuff like that, it was fruit. And for many years, I didn’t even have a birthday cake. I had a watermelon cake, where you cut your watermelon into the shape of a cake and you put fat free whipped cream on top and that was your cake. And so for years I did that and it kind of became this ongoing joke. But I just really wanted birthday cake, so this year when I turned 27, you know, I have a new team, and Scooter Braun, my manager, gave me the best birthday cake. And I spent it with Ariana Grande, who is one of my good friends, and we just had the best birthday and I just remember crying because I was finally eating cake with a manager that didn’t need anything from me and that loved me for who I am and supported my journey. I think at some point it becomes dangerous to try to control someone’s food when they’re in recovery from an eating disorder.
Lovato told DeGeneres that she now feels at peace with herself and wants others to feel the same. “We are good by ourselves, we don’t need a partner, we don’t need substances. We’re good.”
You can watch her full interviews below: