Demi Lovato, 18, was just eight years old when she developed “an unhealthy relationship with food” that later developed into a fixation with “cutting” and other forms of self-mutilation, the ex-child star confesses in an interview with Robin Roberts airing Friday on Good Morning America and 20/20.
After an emotional breakdown last fall, Demi signed up for a three month stint in a Illinois residential treatment facility. It was there that the Disney star came face-to-face with the eating disorder that began after on the heels of relentless bullying that eventually prompted Lovato’s parents to remove her from school and hire a tutor.
“I’ve spoken openly about being bullied throughout the past few years, but one thing that I’ve never been able to feel comfortable talking about was the effects that it had on my life, afterwards,” Lovato tells Roberts. “I literally didn’t know why they were being so mean to me. And when I would ask them why, they would just say, `Well, you’re fat.’”
Of cutting, Demi explains: “I was compulsively overeating when I was eight years old. So, I guess, for the past 10 years I’ve had a really unhealthy relationship with food. It was a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body. I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were some times where my emotions were just so built up, I didn’t know what to do. The only way I could get that instant gratification was through an immediate release on myself.”
Now out of therapy, Demi’s decided to turn her focus to finding success on the pop charts. And that means her days as Disney’s Sonny with a Chance are dunzo. On Tuesday, Lovato announced that she is leaving the popular comedy.
“It made sense for me to go ahead and leave the show to focus on my music. It’s kind of sad for me that a chapter of my life has ended but there couldn’t be a better time for me to move on,” Lovato says. “I don’t think going back to Sonny would be healthy for my recovery. Being in front of a camera would make me nervous.”
The Disney Channel will revamp Sonny into a sketch comedy series, titled So Random. The new show is set for premiere in June.