Throughout her career, Demi Lovato has never shied away from being candid about the struggles she’s faced in her personal life — including her battle with addiction, eating disorders and being the victim of bullying.
The outspoken entertainer even got real with ET in our first-ever interview with her back in 2008, at the premiere of her Disney Channel original movie, Camp Rock.
While she was only 15 at the time, Lovato opened up about the challenges of being a role model for other young children who look up to her, and how she wanted to guide and inspire others.
“Being a role model, there’s obviously the pressure of not making mistakes, but at the same time, I don’t really want to be a role model because I’m ‘perfect,'” she said at the time. “I’d rather be a role model by helping people deal with their issues.”
One way Lovato said she planned on helping would be by starting charities and foundations that addressed the problems facing young people on a daily basis, especially bullying.
“Bullying was a really sensitive subject to me. And it’s something that I went through, and now I want to be able to help someone else with it,” she shared.
While the young star admitted that she used to put pressure on herself to be a flawless role model, she said she came to realize that there were other important ways to help change other people’s lives.
“You can be a role model by reaching out to people and saying, ‘Hey, it’s OK to not be [super thin],’ or ‘Hey, it’s OK. You can make it through bullying.'”
Sadly, Lovato said she never had a similar guiding force in her own life. In a 2011 interview with ET, she opened up about feeling lost while struggling with an eating disorder from the age of nine.
“I was scared,” she recalled. “I was looking up to these girls that were very thin and there was nobody that set a positive example to say, ‘Hey, you know what? It is OK to have a healthy body and to look normal and have curves.'”
In September 2008, when she was 16, Lovato released her debut studio album, Don’t Forget, followed by her second album, Here We Go Again, 10 months later. Then she went on her first national tour.
The singer has been very open about how she began to use drugs to self-medicate from the stress of her music and television career, while at the same time struggling with an eating disorder and a battle with mental health issues, including self-harm.
When she was 18, Lovato entered rehab for the first time, and began to change her life around. After getting clean, the singer proudly stayed sober for six years, all the while being very candid and open about her sobriety journey, in an effort to inspire her the legion of devoted fans, many of whom managed to overcome their own struggles because of her story.
While Lovato suffered a relapse earlier this year, and was hospitalized on Tuesday due to an apparent drug overdose, those same fans have overwhelmingly stood by her, still crediting her with their own recoveries and sharing love, compassion and understanding.
The story of Lovato’s personal struggles and the role it’s played in the lives of her fans mirrors Lovato’s own words to ET a decade ago, when the teenager said she didn’t want to be a role model “because I’m ‘perfect,'” but by reaching out and serving as an inspiration to help others.
Following Lovato’s hospitalization, the singer’s rep released a statement to ET, sharing, “Demi is awake and with her family, who want to express thanks to everyone for the love, prayers and support. Some of the information being reported is incorrect and they respectfully ask for privacy and not speculation as her health and recovery is the most important thing right now.”
A source told ET on Wednesday that Lovato’s family is “going to do everything in their power to help get Demi back on track and are making plans to get her straight into rehab.”
“She is a fighter and has beat this in the past, so they know she can live a clean and sober life again,” the source added. Watch the video below to hear more.
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