Updated: Apr 19
The following story was written by a student on the staff of The Jaguar Times as part of Hilliard Bradley High School’s Journalism Production course.
by Avah Fetzer, Entertainment Editor
Trigger warning: This story contains mentions of addiction and can be harmful to read for people who are sensitive to this topic.
On March 23, 2021, Demi Lovato released the first part of her four part documentary, “Dancing With the Devil”. The series mainly focuses on her struggles with addiction, mental illness, and childhood trauma, and also covers many other topics. Her fans really appreciate this because it shows her vulnerability and honesty to the people around her.
Prior to “Dancing with the Devil”, Lovato had released one other documentary in 2017 called “Simply Complicated”, and started on another documentary in 2018, which was never released because she overdosed not too long after filming it. When talking about it in episode one, Lovato said, “In that documentary, I was allowing the cameras to see the tip of the iceberg”. She then explained what she meant by saying, “I wasn’t showing [the viewers] what I was doing behind closed doors”. Sirah, Lovato’s best friend and sober companion, explained in “Dancing with the Devil” why this documentary was so important to not just Lovato but also to herself. She said, “This is the first time where we’re really telling the truth”. This documentary was a big step forward for Lovato and her team.
The main point of this new documentary was to vocalize and raise awareness for both her story with addiction, along with just addiction as a whole. This was very significant because everyone knows someone that has dealt with addiction whether that be a friend, family member, or even someone that you have no idea is struggling. It’s a deadly mental illness that takes a lot of time and effort to recover from. Most of the time addiction is not controllable and Lovato explains this when she said, “Six years is a long time to be told that if you slip up, you're gonna die… and at some point enough just becomes enough”. Lovato was sober for six years before her almost deadly overdose. She said she “suppressed a part of [herself]” and eventually that caused her to “overflow”.
Lovato mentioned in her documentary the struggles that she faced after her overdose. She said, “I actually don’t think people realize how bad it actually was. I had three strokes, I had a heart attack, I suffered brain damage from the strokes, I can’t drive anymore, and I have blind spots in my vision”. Lovato’s overdose was so bad, that her doctors were even saying that if she was found five to ten minutes later, that she wouldn’t be alive today. The correlation between her overdose and her eyesight was very strong. Her neurologist, Dr. Shouri Lahir, said in episode four of her documentary that “the areas of her brain that were most affected were the vision centers”. This was shocking to hear, because when you think about addiction and what it can affect, the last thing you think about is your vision.
Demi Lovato’s bravery not just in “Dancing with the Devil”, but also throughout her entire life, has positively impacted many of her fans. In episode one, a fan was filmed saying, “I don’t think she understands how much of an impact she has on her fans”. Lovato says that being in quarantine in the year of 2020 allowed for a lot of self growth. She confirmed that she has realized her true sexuality and is making changes because of it. In episode four she said after cutting her hair, “It’s very symbolic of letting go of my past, letting go of the old me, part of me that was too afraid to really live my truth”. She also mentioned how she doesn’t care what people think about this change in her appearance because she is no longer living to impress anyone except for herself.
Lovato continues to inspire many others as the last line in her documentary was, “Life is fluid, and I’m fluid, and that’s all I know”. She uses her experience to raise awareness for her old way of life and promote the new (and happier) person she is becoming.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, feel free to call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit https://www.samhsa.gov/ for free information and support.