Demi Lovato recalled an incident where she was "barricaded" into her hotel room by her team just a year before her nearly fatal drug overdose.
The 30-year-old singer was a guest on the Call Her Daddy podcast on Wednesday where she opened up about her history with mental illness, eating disorders and substance abuse, tracing it all back to when she began to struggle as a young teen. Although she's been in treatment for these issues numerous times — and has shared that information with the public — Lovato revealed that it was more difficult to get the help that she needed when she was being managed by the wrong people.
"There was one time where I had binged and purged one night and I came clean to my team and said, 'Hey, this happened.' I snuck out of my hotel room because they didn't let me have phones in my hotel rooms because they didn’t want me to call room service, I didn’t have food in my hotel room like snacks in the mini bar because they didn't want me to eat the snacks," she explained. "After I told them what had happened, my security guard walked by my room or was made aware that they had built, they barricaded me into my hotel room. They put furniture outside of my door so that I couldn’t get out and sneak out and eat if I wanted to. And so it was that level of controlling when it came to my food, which just made my eating disorder worse."
Management's role in restricting the singer's diet was confirmed by the former television host Ellen DeGeneres when DeGeneres recalled the on-set dressing room being cleared of sugar when Lovato was making an appearance.
Lovato went on to say that even when she directly asked for help, her requests were denied.
"One time I said, 'I'm throwing up blood. I need to go to treatment, I need to get help.' And this was in like 2017 and this person looked at me and said, 'You're not sick enough.' And I think that was his way of saying, 'No, you're not going back to treatment because if you do this will look bad on me.' And so I didn’t," Lovato told podcast host Alex Cooper. "I didn't go back into treatment and you know, less than a year later, I ended up overdosing. And so I think it was just like I felt trapped."
The singer suffered three strokes and a heart attack during her July 2018 overdose, which was revealed as she detailed the traumatic episode in her documentary series Dancing With the Devil. On the podcast, she explained that it was her way out of the mistreatment she was experiencing.
"I felt like I couldn’t get out of this situation and my way of like blowing everything up was relapsing on drugs and alcohol cause they always said, 'If you use we're out.' And I was like, 'Alright time to get out, bye,'" she said. "I've learned a lot from that experience like no one can control me anymore and I was under the control from 18 to 25 and those are years where you’re trying to figure out your adulthood. You're no longer a teenager, but for some reason I had people controlling everything I ate."
Lovato went on to say, "I would even go so far as to say there was a brainwashing element to it where you were totally under the impression that if I don't listen to this person who knows so much about recovery, I'm gonna lose everything."
She also recalled being told to fire one of her chefs after her team found out that the chef told Lovato that her bank statements had been reviewed to keep track of what she was ordering from Starbucks "to make sure you're not getting like cookies or pastries or things like that," the chef told Lovato. "And when I found that out I told them [that I knew], and then they're like, 'We don't like your chef.' And I was like, 'Oh you realize that she's the one who told me.'"
Lovato's 2021 song "Melon Cake" touches on the limitations that were placed on her by her team when it came to food as she sang about people "getting fired for chocolate in the backseat." The song's title was also a reference to the watermelon "cake" that her team would serve her each year on her birthday, which she also discussed with DeGeneres during a 2020 appearance.
Her latest album Holy F****, which came out Aug. 19, alludes to other parts of Lovato's life that she continues to heal from — including her lengthy relationship with actor Wilmer Valderrama who was 12 years her senior.
"I think that I've just had a lot of trauma in my life and there's a persistence, a determination inside of me," Lovato said. "My business decisions were always being made for me and now I found my voice, no one could ever do that to me again and I feel empowered by what I went through because I had to grow and I had to learn to accept that I'm my own boss."
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
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