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Demi Lovato Opens Up About How 'Bad' Coping Mechanisms Sometimes Save Us

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Editor's Note

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction, the following post could be triggering. You can contact SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

When singer Demi Lovato struggled with suicidal ideation, she turned to a coping mechanism that was familiar to her: substance abuse.

In an upcoming episode of the mental-health-centered podcast Yeah No, I’m Not OK, Lovato shared that while drug abuse has nearly killed her, it also helped her when she was experiencing suicidal ideation.

“In the same way it almost killed me, it saved my life at times, because there were times that I dealt with suicidal ideations,” Lovato said on the podcast according to E! News. “And had I gone forward with that in that moment, instead of another destructive coping mechanism, I wouldn’t be here to tell my story.”

Lovato also shared that her experience highlights the often misguided believe that “if people are using drugs or if they are dealing with an eating disorder or self-harm that they want to die.” For Lovato, the exact opposite was true, as it helped her cope with being suicidal.

At the same time, while drug abuse helped Lovato when she was experiencing suicidal ideations, she faced ramifications for it. After a 2018 overdose, Lovato shared that had a heart attack and three strokes which results in lasting brain damage.

“I dealt with a lot of the repercussions and I feel like they are still there to remind me of what could happen if I ever get into a dark place again,” Lovato told People. “I learned a lot from my past. I was sober for six years and I learned so much from that journey.”

Lovato told Yeah No, I’m Not OK‘s host Diane Guerrero that she now turns to other coping mechanisms. “I did the best that I could at times and now that I have other tools and other resources, I know how else to deal and how else to cope, so I don’t have to resort to those behaviors again,” she said.

In addition to substance abuse, there are many other maladaptive coping mechanisms people turn to as they cope with mental illness. In an essay on The Mighty, Tori S. wrote about the issue with labeling coping mechanisms as being “bad.”

“I have learned through therapy my old coping mechanisms are something to be celebrated — they are what got me through a lot of events in my past, helped me survive emotional abuse and neglect and more,” Tori S. wrote. “They saved me at one point. They are proof of a wish to survive, of a will to survive, to endure, to make it through.”

You can listen to episodes of Yeah No, I’m Not OK here. 

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Johangarcia09

Originally published: March 10, 2021
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