An Open Letter to Demi Lovato
I'm on a plane right now, listening to your music, crying, picturing you in a hospital bed. Maybe you are alone and crying and listening to music too. Maybe you feel like you've let the world down, and maybe you feel like all you have done to battle addiction, for yourself and for countless others, is somehow discounted.
I hate how eating disorders and addictions demand that we focus on our lost battles.
These illnesses pull our attention away from all the progress we have made, all the courage we've mustered, all the people we've inspired in allowing ourselves to be so raw and vulnerable.
When I relapsed back into bulimia after hospitalization and rehab, I fought so hard to get back into recovery. I prayed to a God I couldn’t feel and I crawled back into my therapists office week after week and I set boundaries with my alcoholic father and I followed my meal plan and I fought and I fought and I fought, and then, I relapsed. Over and over again.
I used to believe all those brave ways I fought for my recovery meant nothing. Only the relapses mattered.
But I was wrong.
Just because I wasn't constantly in forward motion didn't mean I'd always be going backwards.
Just because it was hard for me to acknowledge my own progress and strength didn't mean it wasn't there.
Many of us may feel too far gone...we may think we'll never recover, and yet still, we can. Most miraculously, we can.
Life can be hard, brutal, disorienting, and Demi, you haven't been afraid to show us that. You haven't hidden your battles with addiction and an eating disorder. You've fought against stigma around mental health issues like no celebrity has ever before. We sometimes cry when we hear your music because we don't just know you as a singer. We know you as a human being, as a fighter, and your fight changed the world.
You made it safer for all of us with mental health issues to speak our truth.
We love you no matter where you are in your fight fight for recovery, and nothing can discount your courage or diminish our love.
About the Author: Shannon Kopp
Shannon Kopp is an eating disorder survivor and the best-selling author of Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life (HarperCollins Publishers). She is also the Founder of SoulPaws Recovery Project, a nonprofit offering free animal therapy to those affected by eating disorders, and rescuing animals in need. Shannon is also a National Recovery Advocate for Eating Recovery Center. Shannon’s story has been featured on CNN, NPR, Fox News, Maria Shriver, Huffington Post and more! Stay connected with Shannon on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and at www.shannonkopp.com.