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Demi Lovato reveals her diagnosis of bipolar disorder

April 20, 2011 |  7:18 pm

Demi Lovato reveals she struggles with bipolar disorder Demi Lovato, who last week tweeted her support for Catherine Zeta-Jones' "brave" decision to be treated for bipolar II disorder, revealed that she too is bipolar.

The 18-year-old Disney actress discovered her diagnosis during her three-month stay at a rehabilitation center in Illinois, where she was treated for anorexia, bulimia and cutting.

"I never found out until I went into treatment that I was bipolar," Lovato told People. "Looking back it makes sense. There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I'd be up until 5:30 in the morning."

Lovato has recently opened up about what she calls "the darkest time" in her life, discussing in depth her struggles with self-mutilation and eating disorders.

In an interview that will air Friday on "Good Morning America" and "20/20," Lovato said her lifelong depression wreaked havoc on her body.

"[Cutting] was a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body," Lovato said in the interview. "I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were some times where my emotions were just so built up, I didn't know what to do. The only way that I could get instant gratification was through an immediate release on myself."

Lovato also said she was bullied at school, and discussed her decadelong "unhealthy relationship with food," saying she started compulsively overeating when she was only 8 years old and later began starving herself.

"I was performing concerts on an empty stomach," she said. "I was losing my voice from purging. I was self-medicating. I was not taking medication for depression, and I literally was so emotionally whacked-out that I took it out on someone that meant a lot to me."

Lovato blew up and punched a backup dancer while on tour in South America with the Jonas Brothers. It was, she told Seventeen, a nervous breakdown.

"I was really bad off," she said. "My parents and manager pulled me aside and said, 'You need to get some help.' It was an intervention. I wanted freedom from the inner demons. I wanted to start my life over."

Post-rehab, Lovato is leaving the cast of "Sonny With a Chance" -- saying that being in front of a camera would hinder her recovery -- and focusing on her music career.

Though the darkest time in her life may be past, Lovato said she would always struggle with those disorders.

"I feel like I am in control now where my whole life I wasn't in control," she told People. "What's important for me now is to help others."

Lovato is writing articles on Seventeen's website, and she joined the Jed Foundation for "Love Is Louder Than the Pressure to Be Perfect," a project that aims to help reduce suicide and emotional distress among teen girls and college students.

"If you are going through that dark period, go to your family and closest friends," Lovato told Seventeen. "Don't put yourself in danger. It's very crucial that you get your feelings out -- but don't ever inflict harm on your own body because your body is so sacred. I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that she's worthy of life and that her life has meaning.

"You can overcome and get through anything."

RELATED:

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Demi Lovato thanks fans for support during 'darkest time of my life' [Video]

Demi Lovato opens up about eating disorders, cutting; tweets about heading back to studio

— Noelene Clark
twitter.com/NoeleneClark

Photo: Demi Lovato at the American Music Awards in Los Angeles on Oct. 12, 2010. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press.

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