Happy Birthday Demi Lovato! The "Skyscraper" star turns 23 years old on August 20 and we can't believe how far she's come from her days on Disney's Sonny with a Chance. Not only has she had lots of success with her music career but Lovato has also become a huge role model to young girls bringing awareness on her own struggles with bipolar disorder and bullying.
Her public battle with mental disorder led to the launch of a joint campaign with five other health organizations called "Be Vocal:" Speak Up For Mental Illness," dedicated to breaking the stigmas associated with mental illness and helping other sufferers. We’re proud of her for being so brave and immensely proactive after sharing her personal story. Here are a few things we've learned over the years from her public battle with bipolarism.
- We learned depression isn't always obvious: Lovato received the surprising diagnosis after checking into treatment at a residential facility back in 2011. "I had no idea that I was even bipolar until I went into treatment," she told ABC News' Robin Roberts. "I was actually manic a lot of the times that I would take on workloads, and then I would say, yes I can do this, I can do this, I can do this. I was conquering the world, but then I would come crashing down, and I would be more depressed than ever." There's a misconception that depression equates to sadness, but it can easily manifest itself into something entirely different. Look out for the signs and get help.
- We learned you can overcome the impacts of bullying: Lovato entered treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, an eating disorder, and self-harming. The lifelong struggle was a result of excessive bullying she experienced when she was younger. "I've spoken openly about being bullied throughout the past few years, but what I've never been able to feel comfortable talking about was the effects that it had on my life,” she said in an interview on 20/20. When Lovato asked her bullies why they chose to pick on her, they simply replied: “Well, you’re fat.” Lovato's eating disorder stemmed from this experience and she's been dealing with it ever since.
- We learned you can work with inherited family illnesses: Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after quitting the Jonas Brothers World Tour. Even though she knew her estranged father struggled with alcohol it wasn't until his death in 2013 that she learned he also battled schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. "I never knew exactly what he had other than his alcoholism... and by then I already knew that I was bipolar." She may have inherited her father's mental illness, but that doesn't prohibit her from fully functioning and being productive.
- We learned you can still live a happy life: Last year she joined the Mental Health Listening & Engagement Tour where she connected with mental health experts over a series of discussions regarding mental disorders and her own struggles. "Bipolar depression really got my life off track, but today I'm proud to say I am living proof that someone can live, love, and be well with bipolar disorder when they get the education, support and treatment they need," she said in a PSA video.
- We learned helping others can help you: She recently became a spokesperson for the Be Vocal: Speak Up For Mental Health campaign which stresses on the importance of speaking up if you have a mental health condition. "I've been very open about my story just because the more honest and open I am, the more people that I'm gonna be able to reach" she said in May on the Today show. Helping others doesn't just hold us accountable for our own actions but it gives us a deeper sense of purpose and happiness.