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Demi Lovato Shares a Heavy, but Familiar Part of Living Openly With a Mental Illness

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Of course, we want everyone living with a mental illness to know they can be honest and open about both their struggles and successes. But sometimes, talking openly about mental health comes with a price, one that can be just as rewarding as it is emotionally draining:

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When you start telling your story, people often start telling you theirs, and seeking you out for comfort and advice.

And while of course this can be a gift — and one of the reasons we tell our stories in the first place — it can be tough being everyone’s “go-to” person, especially when you’re still figuring out how to take care of yourself, and especially when you have a large platform.

Demi Lovato knows this well. In an interview with InStyle, which will appear in their April issue, she got candid about how meet and greets with fans can be tough as someone who’s open about her mental health history.

They’re very emotional. A lot of times people use that opportunity to dump their problems on me because they don’t know who else to talk to… They show me their cuts. I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘I was going to kill myself until I got this meet and greet.’ And you’re just like, ‘What?’

This doesn’t stop Lovato from using her platform for mental health awareness, though. Her documentary, “Simply Complicated,” details her history of drug abuse, her bipolar disorder diagnosis and her ongoing struggles with an eating disorder, and she says one of the reasons she speaks up about mental health is that growing up, no one else did.

“You have to speak out about stuff, you have to use your voice for good.. I didn’t have anybody who was doing that when I was younger,” she told InStyle, adding:

Nobody [I looked up to] was talking about mental illness. Nobody was talking about eating disorders. Nobody was talking about cutting. I wanted somebody for my little sister to look up to. I took on that role because I knew it was important.

But being this person can be tiring. Lovato said after meet and greets, she sometimes has to meditate. Exercise is also a huge part of her self-care, and in the interview, she says she sends a list of things she’s grateful for to her friend every day.

If you’re someone who’s open about your mental health, there’s no shame in needing to set boundaries and take care of yourself, too. Sometimes, it can add a lot of pressure when people view you as an “inspiration,” like you have to stay well or else people will be let down. Mighty contributor Daphnée L. discussed this in her piece, “I’m a Mental Health Advocate, But I Still Struggle Too,” writing:

Ever since I started being open about my mental health on platforms such as social media, I’ve received more than a fair amount of praise and compliments…  Here’s the truth: I don’t consider myself to be “inspirational.” I don’t feel comfortable being a person others might look up to. I don’t think of myself as someone who has much to say. Receiving any kind of attention is stressful for me and I avoid the spotlight at all costs. Behind closed doors, I am not fine.

If you’re someone who, like Lovato, shares your mental health story, how do you balance being an ear for others and taking care of yourself? If you need some ideas, the following self-care lists might help:

Image via Creative Commons/rocor

Originally published: March 9, 2018
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