Demi Lovato Talks Overdose – The singer is opening up about her queerness, her near fatal overdose and her journey to living her truth. “I’m ready to feel like myself,” she said.
Demi Lovato woke up legally blind & in an intensive care unit after the July 2018 drug overdose. It took about two months to recover enough sight to read a book. She passed the time catching up on 10 years’ worth of sleep, playing board games or even taking a single lap around the hospital floor for exercise. Blind spots made it nearly impossible to see head-on. So she peered at her phone through her peripheral vision and typed using voice notes.
“It was interesting how fast I adapted,” she said in a recent interview. “I didn’t leave myself time to really feel sad about it. I just was like, how do I fix it?”
What's Demi Lovato Working On?
Lovato; the 28-year-old singer, songwriter, actress and budding activist. Has been in show business since she was 6, and a household name since her teens; is not just adaptable — she is one of the most resilient pop cultural figures of her time. She got her start on kids’ TV and made the tricky leap to adult stardom. Releasing six albums (two platinum, four gold), serving as a judge on “The X Factor,” acting on “Glee” and “Will & Grace” and amassing 100 million Instagram followers. All while managing an eating disorder since she was a child, and a drug addiction that started in her teens. Coming out as queer and the constant pressure of being an exceptionally famous person.
In her new documentary titled “dancing with the devil”. Which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival this week; and will be released on YouTube in four episodes starting March 23. A song with the same name, a brassy, haunting showcase for Lovato’s powerhouse voice, anchors a new album, “Dancing With the Devil… The Art of Starting Over,” due April 2.
Filled with fresh admissions that betray previous obscurity. Her overdose came after six years of sobriety, during which Lovato felt increasingly hemmed in by the measures her long time managers took to help her stay on track. It caused three strokes, a heart attack and organ failure. She had pneumonia from asphyxiating on her vomit; she’s suffered brain damage from the strokes, and has lasting vision problems & she can no longer drive and described the lingering effects as resembling sunspots.) The drug dealer who brought her heroin that night sexually assaulted her, then left her close to death.
Demi Lovato Talks Addiction
AMY WINEHOUSE WAS found dead of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011. That same date seven years later, Lovato began the night of partying that ended in the I.C.U. “Amy” the 2015 documentary about the British musician, played at Lovato’s rehab facility. She couldn’t bring herself to watch it.
“I did definitely look up to her and I valued her vulnerability and transparency with her audience because it bred that connection that I felt to her,” she said. “And that’s ultimately what my fans feel with me.”
When she was a Disney star, Lovato had an edgy candor that distinguished her from the pack. A few months before she turned 16 and released her debut album. She was on tour with the squeaky-clean Jonas Brothers and answered a reporter’s questions about her musical tastes. “What fascinates me,” she said, “is metal,” naming very heavy bands. Lovato recalled worrying that she would get in trouble. “I remember feeling like I know that I’m a role model and I’m not supposed to like this dark metal music, but I do.”
At 18, she attended rehab for physical and emotional issues after being caught doing drugs & assaulting a dancer on tour. That is when she was told that she had bipolar disorder; she went public both to explain her actions and help dispel the stigma around discussing mental health. (Lovato says she never received that diagnosis again, and now believes it was incorrect. “Turns out I have ADHD, but I’m not bipolar,” she said.)
A Look back
Looking back at her days of teen stardom through the lens of an adult, Lovato has compassion. “In hindsight, I don’t blame my 17-year-old self for being so miserable,” she said. “When I’m angry, it means that I’m actually hurting,” she added. “Young women in the industry who get labeled with ‘difficult to work with’ — it’s like, hey, maybe just for a second, consider that it’s not that I’m a bad person. It’s just that nobody’s listening to me and I’m hungry, and I’m tired and overworked and doing the best I can for an unmedicated 17-year-old.”
Exposing her imperfections to the world did little to alleviate internal pressures, though. Behind the scenes, Lovato pushed herself to be the idealized version of a successful pop star as her career progressed. Her first two albums from 2008 and 2009; filled with spunky pop-punk in the mode of Ashlee Simpson and Avril Lavigne.
Lovato hadn’t kept her queerness a secret, but she didn’t make many public pronouncements about it either. Until her 2017 documentary, when she stated that she is on a dating app; for both men and women. In March, she started seeing a male actor, and the relationship progressed quickly in quarantine, resulting in a July engagement. But in September — a month after her birthday — Lovato called it off.
Living Her Best Life
“I feel like I dodged a bullet because I wouldn’t have been living my truth for the rest of my life had I confined myself into that box of heteronormativity and monogamy,” she said, her voice sparking with energy. “And it took getting that close to shake me up and be like, wow, you really got to live your life for who you really are.”
Lovato’s understanding of her identity, as well as the status of her physical and mental health; which is complicated by the matrix of pop stardom. But a new generation of artists, including Billie Eillish, is pushing back against long-held expectations. “I think it was when Billie started wearing the baggy clothes, that was the first time I was like, I don’t have to be the super-sexy sexualized pop star,” Lovato said. “And it also never felt that comfortable to me. Like it’s not the most natural thing to me to go onstage in a leotard.”
That perspective shift led to a cascade of questions: “If I’m not the sexualized pop star with a big voice, then what am I?” Lovato asked herself. “I feel like ever since that awakening, I embraced my independence. I embraced the balance of both masculine and feminine parts of me. And I do feel in control more so than I’ve ever felt in my life.”
Demi Lovato Goin’ Out With A Bang!
In November, Lovato hosted the People’s Choice Awards in a series of luxurious, flowing wigs because; “I’m going out with a bang.” Then she chopped off most of her hair, a move that “felt like the first step in fully embracing myself,” she said. It was even shorter by the time we spoke. “I’m still on a journey to finding myself and this haircut’s just one step of the process,” she added. She left the topic with a hint: “More will come about that in time.”
Her new album has its share of vocal pyrotechnics, but it’s a far more intimate LP. Focused on telling the story of the past several years, its oldest song; recorded on Valentine’s Day in 2018. Its newest, a collaboration with Ariana Grande, has been added in the last few weeks. The punchy “Melon Cake,” inspired by the watermelons covered in fat-free whipped cream. Lovato used to receive on her birthday in lieu of actual cake, is about seeking the control she lacked for so long. And “California Sober,” a strummy mid-tempo, explains where Lovato is with her recovery today.
Demi Lovato Talks On Being Sober
“I haven’t been by-the-book sober since the summer of 2019,” she said. “I realized if I don’t allow myself some wiggle room, I go to the hard [expletive]. And that will be the death of me.”
Lovato is not substance-free. She permits herself weed and alcohol in moderation, and recognizes that she’ll get blowback for sharing her unconventional approach; which she firmly acknowledges isn’t for everyone. “Allowing myself to eat a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell, I found freedom in my eating disorder,” she said. “But it was so all-or-nothing and dogmatic with sobriety that I was just like, I don’t know how to live in total balance of my life.”
In the YouTube documentary; Elton John, who appears as a fan and mentor, frowns on this decision: “Moderation doesn’t work,” he says. “You either do it, or you don’t.” Braun said he and Lovato don’t agree on everything; but he has urged her to think of herself as a “real model,” rather than a role model. “You want to tell the truth. And you’re constantly learning,” he said. “No one can live up to the expectation of perfection.”
In many ways, Lovato has always shared more of herself outside of her music than inside of it. Something that is changing with her new album, particularly as she wrote from a more queer perspective. “When I look back at music in the past that was more hesitant to be as open as I am today, I feel like I just robbed myself of vulnerability in some of those songs,” she said.
Talking about the broader changes in her life, she sounded peaceful. Though her journey’s far from over; “I’m ready to feel like myself.” She smiled. “I’m finally being honest with myself.”