By Aubrie Mckeever and Ramya Ramamoorthy | Staff Writers

Demi Lovato shares her struggles with substance abuse, mental illness, and pressure under Hollywood’s spotlight. (Courtesy of Billboard)

Last weekend, we watched the Demi Lovato documentary, “Simply Complicated,” which was a free, hour-long movie on YouTube.

With her family involved as well, the documentary depicted Lovato’s life thus far, including the bullying she endured as a child. Not only was she teased for her weight, but her classmates signed a petition telling her to kill herself. As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, Lovato simultaneously dealt with terrible mood swings.

Lovato quickly rose to fame after she starred in the 2008 Disney Channel movie “Camp Rock.” For a fifteen-year-old, Lovato managed a lot of responsibilities. She stated in the documentary, “I was now working on my music, my TV show, and movies, all at the same time…I felt the pressure to sing music people would like, rather than what I would like…I was a perfectionist and really wanted to be the best of the best.”

Lovato was constantly trying to make music that people would like. She maintained a certain image and strove to please her fans.

But all of the pressure and fame took a toll on the singer. The former Disney Channel star developed a severe anxiety disorder and suffered from pre-existing mental health issues. She also found herself deaing with depression, bipolar disorder, and drug addiction. She stated, “I was awful to be around,” and “I was not easy to work with.”

The situation only got worse during the tour for “Camp Rock 2,” during which Lovato snuck in Adderall and threw a huge party with the rest of the cast members. Lovato was angry when she found out someone ratted her out for having Adderall, so she manipulated her manager into identifying the dancer who had revealed her drug use. Soon after, Lovato and her crew had to leave to catch a plane when, out of nowhere, she walked up to the dancer and punched her in the face.

The incident with the dancer kept Lovato in the spotlight, but her actions only prolonged her struggles. It got to a point where Lovato considered suicide. Afraid of losing the people she loved, Lovato realized the need to help herself in order to keep her career and most importantly, to keep her team. She went to rehab and eventually got better, but it took time.

After managing everything Lovato had to deal with, she overcame most of her struggles due to a strong support system consisting of her family, friends, personal development coach, fitness coach, and managers. She took sincere efforts to take care of herself, and today she has maintained five and a half years of sobriety.

In addition, her personal development coach, Mike Bayer, encouraged her to exercise in order to have a healthy mind and body. She now trains in mixed martial arts as well as jiu-jitsu. Lovato stated, “I know that I would be in a very dark place without [the gym].”

However, one issue she still faces is an addiction to food. She constantly thinks about food and wants to binge, but kickboxing and martial arts have saved her from giving in to her eating disorder. This has helped her take her mind off of food in a healthy way.

The documentary opened our eyes to the negative effects of fame, the importance of mental health awareness, and Lovato’s personal transformation, which most fans are unaware of. It revealed a lot about Lovato’s life and everything she had to go through.

In Lovato’s case, most fans think of a pop star as someone who has it all, but even they experience depression, anxiety, addiction, and other issues. We learned a lot after watching this film and would recommend people to watch it, as it deals with many serious subjects, including the downside to fame, drug abuse, eating disorders, addiction, and depression, which are issues that people may be struggling with in our society.

The biggest issue is that people are afraid to seek or accept help. Thankfully, Lovato’s manager never left her side.

If it was not for her team and family, Lovato may have attempted suicide.    

While Lovato’s story is very inspiring, it does not address the fact that Lovato had a certain level of privilege in dealing with her mental illness. Throughout the movie, there were people who talked about how they supported Lovato—her best friend, her mom, her sisters, her personal development coach, her manager, and her fitness instructor. 

There are people who have to seek mental health support on their own without the help of a support network because they feel have to keep it a secret from their friends and family. Moreover, most people aren’t able to afford a personal development coach and a fitness instructor.

Despite the hardships that Lovato faced (and this article is not intended to invalidate these hardships), she had more support and money than others who face the same issues would have. A personal development coach and fitness instructor would be helpful to anyone, especially those who struggle with their mental health. However, only those like Demi Lovato, who is in the upper class, can afford these resources. 

Lovato had much more support than many other people with mental illness would have had.

Despite her hardships, she overcame her struggles and succeeded musically with the support of her loved ones. In order to improve oneself, one must take action and trust in loved ones. Since Lovato was able to do so, she came out of the darkness and into the light. She states, “You have to surrender, because that’s when the change is going to happen.”

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