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Demi Lovato Reveals She Cut Herself Since Leaving Treatment + More on ‘Stay Strong’

Mark Davis, Getty Images

Demi Lovato‘s poignant ‘Stay Strong’ documentary aired tonight (March 6), and if you were expecting feel good fluff, then you thought wrong. This special was not a positive puff piece about how Lovato’s life is roses and unicorns since leaving treatment. In fact, the doc hones in on how recovery is a continued, daily battle for the teen queen as she struggles to stay on the right track. There are no days off or finish lines in recovery.

The teen admits that she’ll be in recovery for the rest of her life, saying, “I can’t tell you that I haven’t cut myself since treatment.” It’s almost too revealing, but this is Demi Lovato we’re talking about here. Her post-treatment PR campaign, where she discussed her issues, embraced her new role as the voice of a generation and owned her problems, was not a publicity strategy to save her image. It was Lovato in survival mode, feeling responsible for others facing the same problems.

Lovato says that her daily battles are two-fold: trying to stay in recovery and trying to stay fit. She hated being christened a role model when she first burst onto the Disney scene, when she was self-medicated, miserable and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to emulate her. She decided to take her guilt and shame out on herself through cutting. Her voice cracked when she revealed that and a lump formed in our throat.

Aside for talking about music (“If you took away music, I wouldn’t have a reason to live. True story … it runs in my veins”) and her ambitions while being attended to by stylists, Lovato reveals how her breakneck schedule of “tour, TV show, movie, album, repeat” was something that she loved, but it was also what sent her off the rails. “This is when it went, maybe, possibly out of control,” she mused. “We kept putting Band-Aids over it. It literally ended up driving me insane.”

See what we mean about this special being raw?

It was alternately devastating and beautiful when the cameras captured the fans, aka Lovatics, who recounted stories about how Lovato saved them and the fact that she spoke out gave them strength to face their own issues. She truly is their heroine. Several fans even said, “If she can do it, I can do it.” That’s some serious responsibility on her shoulders, but she seems to relish it.

We also learned that Lovato knits, which we see her doing while heading back to her Dallas hometown for Thanksgiving, which is a nightmarish holiday for someone with an eating disorder. She hits a stumbling block returning to the stage for the following show, feeling like everything she ate over the holiday is visible. Her body dysmorphic issues are obvious, but like the special’s title, she stays strong. She also reminds herself that when she is having a bad day, she remembers to respect her fans, since she is nothing without them, sharing that her wrist tattoos are a tribute to fans who told her to “Stay Strong” every day she was away.

Lovato also returned to her treatment center, revealing that stepping into the room again made her feel naked, since she got so emotionally stripped down while in the facility. She could have signed herself out, but knew she needed to stay in treatment to get better. She also gave a speech to current patients, telling them to make the most of their time there, since it will save their lives like it did hers. Lovato is nothing if not self-aware and truly benefiting from recovery.

She ends by saying, “I wasn’t just given this voice to sing.” She’s not a car running like new after a trip to the body shop. She’s a work in progress.

Amen, sister.

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