Demi Lovato opens up about overcoming addiction and bulimia

I didn't think I would make it to 21.

By Natasha Harding

As a body confidence warrior and proud feminist, Demi Lovato is one helluva role model, but in a candid interview with American Way, the ex-Disney star says things haven’t always been so easy.

Growing up, Demi says she struggled with body confidence issues and, while she took part in pageant shows when she was 7 years old, she says, “My body-image awareness started way before that, but I do attribute a little of my insecurities to being onstage and judged for my beauty.”

By age 12 she’d started cutting herself and purging. After she landed the role of Mitchie Torres on Camp Rock, Demi says things started to get worse and by 16 she was battling with "depression, suicidal thoughts, [and] self-harming impulses" while "self-medicating with alcohol, cocaine, and OxyContin."

"I lived fast and I was going to die young," Demi said. "I didn't think I would make it to 21." After seeing Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan's careers come to a standstill for all the wrong reasons, Demi says when she was making Camp Rock, "I was definitely like, ‘Oh crap. In three years, that’s going to be me.’ ”

It wasn’t until she punched one of the backup dancers while she was on tour with the Jonas Brothers that she got the help she needed. Demi checked into rehabilitation and was diagnosed with bulimia and bipolar disorder.

"So now I'm in rehab, and I thought, 'Oh great, now the world thinks I'm just another stereotype,'" she told American Way. "But once I started eating again, the other issues [such as drinking and drug abuse] got worse. It was like whack-a-mole."

Following a few more incidents, Demi decided to take back control of her life and lived in a sober house for a year. In 2012, at the age of 20, Demi quit drinking and the rest is pretty much history.

"I didn't go into treatment thinking, 'OK, now I'm going to be an inspiration,'" she said. "At times I was resentful for having that kind of responsibility, but now, it's really become a part of my life. It holds me accountable."

The fact Demi’s struggles have always been in the public eye made it both harder for her, but helpful for many of her fans who haev faced similar battles.

"When I have meet-and-greets, I can't tell you the amount of times that girls will show me their arms covered in scars or cuts," she continued. "They'll tell me, 'You helped me get through this. Because of you, I stopped self-harming,' or 'I got sober.' Hearing those things gave my life new meaning."

She also explains why she's so forthcoming about her experiences. “The more you talk about mental illness, the less of a taboo it becomes,” Lovato says. “As a pop star, I can say, ‘Hey, I’ve got bipolar disorder — it’s nothing that anyone can be ashamed of.’ ”

Props to Demi for getting honest AF about the less than glamorous parts of her life. We love you gurl <33

RELATED VIDEO: Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas And James Corden - Break It Down