Demi Lovato on Her Time in Rehab and Breaking Down Mental Health Stigmas

‘You can live with it and have an incredible life.’

For the latest episode of The Thrive Global Podcast with iHeartRadio, Arianna Huffington sits down with Grammy-nominated, singer/songwriter and activist Demi Lovato. The two have a wide-ranging conversation on everything from life in the spotlight and social media to mental illness and religion.

Lovato has led the way for many other celebrities in the conversation on mental health. She has been a prominent voice on the importance of destigmatization, encouraging others to talk about what feels hard to make it easier or more normal. She’s also spoken extensively about her own struggles and chose not to hide them years ago when the conversation was more taboo.

“It was very important for me to talk about mental illness and how you can live with it and have an incredible life,” Lovato said. “When I was in treatment, going through rehab when I was 18, my manager came to me and said, ‘We can either talk about the reasons why you’re in here and hopefully help somebody, or not talk about them at all. It’s totally up to you.’”

So she chose to share. The singer released a self-reflective YouTube documentary, Simply Complicated, in October that has drawn over seven million views. In it, she discusses her experience with drugs, struggling with depression and her road to recovery.

“I knew whenever he had said that I could possibly help somebody, that that was what I wanted to do,” Lovato said. “I realized I could be a role model for people. It’s important that people have somebody to look up to, especially younger people that are going through things that they can’t really explain or they don’t feel like anyone understands. I want be that for them.”

“I think there’s a lot of stigma around mental illness, and any time where somebody is admitting that there is something different about them, it’s hard for people to talk about,” she said. “Whether you suffer from bipolar disorder or depression or anxiety, it’s something that sets you apart a little bit from other people. It makes you who you are, and that’s okay. You can live a happy and healthy life with a mental illness. It’s very possible.”

To hear the full conversation, click here.

You can also listen to the Thrive Global podcast internationally for free on iTunes and Stitcher.

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