(NEW YORK) — Demi Lovato has been outspoken about her struggles with depression, bipolar disorder and an eating disorder, and in a new interview, she revealed that she was troubled at a very young age.
As a child actress on the popular children’s show, Barney & Friends, Lovato, now 20, said she was “so grateful to be on TV, but I was also really struggling.”
“Looking back, there was a connection, probably between any kid who’s ever sang that song to Barney, a little place in a child’s heart, a void, that could be filled. And maybe Barney fills it,” she told Cosmopolitan magazine in its August issue, on stands July 9. “Even before Barney, I was suicidal. I was 7. With Barney, I guess subliminally, I did have a relationship with this figure that was saving my life in a way.”
Ultimately, the X-Factor host began cutting herself at age 11 as a coping mechanism.
“I’ve talked about being bullied and the years of being a teenager, but I went through things when I was younger that I’ve never talked about that probably caused me to turn out the way I ended up turning out,” she added, though she did not elaborate on what those things were.
However, she said that she’s letting her song lyrics speak for her. In “Warrior,” she sings, “There’s a part of me I can’t get back/ A little girl grew up too fast/ All it took was once, I’ll never be the same/ Now I’m taking back my life today.”
“My family knows what it’s about,” she said. “When I’m ready to open up that subject with the outside world, then I’ll be free to talk about it. But right now, it’s kind of one of those things where the lyrics speak for me. It’s all in the song.”
Now, she’s focused on being a role model for others who are learning to cope with their emotions.
“I’m not super religious, but I grew up Christian and I believe in God. When I’m in L.A., I don’t talk about it that much because people are very judgmental, but I just feel like God gave me a voice, not just to sing with,” she said. “He put me through those things, which seemed horrible at the time, but they were so worth it. With the obstacles I’ve overcome, I can help people.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Eric Levenson, CNN
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Madison Park, Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN