Demi Lovato is as real as they come.
The 24-year-old “Sorry Not Sorry” singer chatted with Elvis Duran as part of iHeartRadio’s Label Defiers with ZICO Coconut Water, the biweekly podcast where stars discuss how they perceive their own labels, challenges they’ve faced, and their idiosyncrasies. During the talk, she opened up about the sticker she wishes would be ripped off her back and thrown away forever.
“I think when people refer to me as being bipolar, it’s something that’s true – I am bipolar – but I don’t like people to use it as a label,” she says. “It’s something that I have, it’s not who I am.”
Rather, she’s looking to establish a more favorable and encouraging label for herself – like “activist.”
In 2011, with a history of substance abuse, eating disorders and self-harm, Lovato entered treatment, where she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. And since then, she has been extremely vocal about living with a mental illness and her journey through recovery “because it’s something I’m very passionate about.”
“I think it’s very important that people raise the importance of mental health because it’s something that’s so taboo to talk about,” she says of adding her voice to the conversation, particularly when it comes to the topic of transgender rights. “The more people know about it, the more people are going to be able to find solutions to what they’re going through.”
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On July 20, the world lost yet another rock icon – Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington – after his long struggle with mental heath, and Lovato says its times like these when she strongly encourages people to “speak up.”
“It’s a very unfortunate situation and I feel terrible for [Bennington’s] friends and family, but I know that maybe this will raise the topic into conversation around mental illness and mental health and help somebody,” she says.
She continues, “It’s important to speak up about the things you believe in, because your voice will be heard no matter what position you’re in. I just happen to be in a position where more people would hear my voice than they would have 10-15 years ago, so I use my voice to do more than just sing.”
“[Whether] it’s in a situation where they need to rise above whatever negativity they have going on in their life or whether it’s to get through a heartbreak or whether it’s to make a memory to falling in love—I think that it’s just important to create music and to be as honest and real about it as possible.”