Demi Lovato peeled back all the layers on Tuesday (Oct. 17) with the arrival of her documentary, Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated, exclusively to YouTube. The documentary was directed by Hannah Lux Davis and is time-capsuled by the creation of her sixth studio album Tell Me You Love Me (Sept. 29). It's no coincidence that Lovato's new documentary coincides with her most vulnerable music to date.
Simply Complicated is just under an hour and 20 minutes long with not a minute wasted. In the first minute, we learn from Demi herself, "I actually had anxiety around this interview because the last time I did an interview this long, I was on cocaine."
We all knew that the purpose of this documentary was to let every crevice of who Demi Lovato has been and is now breathe, but there's something quite poignant when hearing Lovato deliver this opening monologue that ensures viewers know the exact tone of what she's about to show you.
"I am Demi Lovato," she says over a voiceover while clips from her life flash by. "I'm 25. The last decade has taught me a lifetime of lessons. I've learned that secrets make you sick. I'm learning how to be a voice and not a victim. I've learned that sex is natural. I've learned that love is necessary. Heartbreak is unavoidable, and loneliness is brutal. I've learned that the key to being happy is to tell your truth and be OK without all the answers. This is my story. This is Simply Complicated."
It's revealed -- through interviews with Lovato, her mother, a childhood friend and her sister, Dallas -- Lovato was bullied intensely in school as a child (by, Dallas says, "this core group of girls who honestly in my eyes were pure fucking evil"). It got to such a point that one girl in particular made a petition for Lovato to kill herself.
She became friends with one of the popular girls, who encouraged Lovato to start "partying," which introduced Lovato to the alcohol and drugs (Adderall and cocaine) that she would soon be dependent on to get through days. Lovato says that the first time she used cocaine, when she was 17 years old and working on Disney Channel. "I was scared because my mom always told me that your heart could just burst if you do it," she says. "But I did it anyways, and I loved it the first time that I did it."
Lovato's biological father, who was not part of her life since childhood before passing away from cancer in 2013, was an addict and alcoholic. "I guess I always searched for what he found in drugs and alcohol because it fulfilled him, and he chose that over a family."
Things got completely out of control in her teen years while touring with the Jonas Brothers, touring on her own and working on Camp Rock, touring for Camp Rock. Specifically, while touring for Camp Rock 2, Lovato threw a huge party at a hotel one night where she was drinking and using Adderall. Once she learned the next day that one of her dancers had told on her for using Adderall, she promptly punched that dancer in the face. This resulted in entering treatment for the first time at 18 years old and there, Lovato was officially diagnosed bipolar.
The treatment didn't last, though. Once out, Lovato says, "I wasn't working my program. I wasn't ready to get sober. I was sneaking it on planes, sneaking it in bathrooms, sneaking it throughout the night. Nobody knew."
What followed was a two-month period where she was using every day. One night, she did cocaine and took Xanax. "I started to choke a little bit," she says. "My heart started racing, and I remember thinking, 'Oh my God, I might be overdosing right now.'"
A separate time, in Palm Springs, she actually did almost overdose after locking her bedroom door -- and when a nurse was carting her away to the hospital, she defiantly grabbed a bottle containing more pills and downed them all.
As a young girl, Demi's mother says, Demi had drawn a picture of what she perceived herself to look like in her diary. On the next page was a drawing of what "what I need to look like to be a star." Demi pulls out a collage from her closet that she had made when she was younger, featuring women with bodies she wanted.
"I wanted to be like them," she says. "That was the chic look back then. I've got Amy Winehouse in there that I looked up to and wanted to be so badly. I wanted to be as thin as her, I wanted to sing like her, I wanted to be just like her."
"The pictures on her wall," Lovato's mother says. "And the pictures. And the models. This isn't what you need to aspire to be like. This isn't healthy. I never thought to say those things to her because I didn't know myself. My desire for perfection, I think I've always been that way. I felt I had to be thin and beautiful and successful. ... I may have passed that along to my kids."
While Lovato is singing "Smoke & Mirrors" (only available on the deluxe version of her album) in the background, she explains that there is still one demon she has not been able to fully conquer.
"The less I have to think about food, the easier it is for me to go about having a normal life," she says. "And I don't want to let anybody down. So when I do have moments when I slip up, I feel very ashamed."