3 August 2018

DEAR DEMI


Dear Demi,

I was around 13 and in my third year of high school. I didn't have a lot of friends I could really count on, which caused me to become my own worst critic, analysing my external appearance day after day and acquiring very unhealthy habits. I always kept these self critical thoughts private. Keeping the battle I was fighting entirely in my own head.

I loved a good cheesy disney musical. High School Musical being my all-time favourite and guilty pleasure to this day, but I also really enjoyed Camp Rock which came out when I was 10. This was how I came to know of you.

Growing up, I listened to your music often - your vocals are simply out of this world. You were the first artist whose music I could really connect to, and although you didn't know me, it felt like you did. I felt so relieved that there was someone else who understood what I was going through. It came at a time that I really needed it as by 14, my mental health was in a terrible state. I was severely depressed and suffered from anxiety, social anxiety in particular. I never spoke to anyone or looked for help, instead I let my mental health get the better of me. This lead me to a bad decision and one day, like you, hopefully I can open up about it in hopes to inspire someone else. My actions eventually forced me into weekly counselling sessions for a year. This was the first time I accepted recovery, it was late 2012, and it pulled me back from the edge I thought I almost couldn't have come back from.

One day, I heard you making a speech at one of your concerts. You spoke about your own struggles, which were similar to mine, and how you were able to overcome them. I really needed to hear that speech. Your openness was refreshing, and it was so incredible to me that you took the time out of each one of your concerts to make that speech, knowing there was at least one person who hadn't heard it before that needed to hear it. On that day, it was clearer than ever that you truly were my role model.

Listening to your songs meant so much, and still do. Skyscraper, For the Love of a Daughter, Father, Warrior…Tell Me You Love Me…Sober. Through your music, social media posts, and speeches, you constantly remind me to accept myself for who I am. I stopped trying to change myself to fit in and found value in the person I already was. Slowly, I began to accept me for me and embraced my quiet self that I was okay being. From this I learnt who my real friends were, those who accepted me for me, those who were patient, and those who didn't just walk (and talk) all over me. And if anyone didn't like my personality, I Really Don't Care! Well, I learn’t not to mind because at the end of the day, I knew I was being myself. 

I have so much to thank you for Demi. For using your platform to stand up for all of us who are not yet ready to do so ourselves. For helping me get through the darkest moments in my life. For saving me (even though you say I saved myself). For making me believe I am worthy. And most importantly, for bringing together a community of people that understand one another.

I know that sometimes, being so open with us about your personal life brings its difficulties, but I hope you always remember how much of an impact sharing your story has on millions of people. I know that’s why you continue to be so open and transparent, and I very much admire you for putting others before yourself in such a way. It’s because of the impact you have had on me that I am able to wake up every day more comfortable with myself than I have ever been. Whenever I listen to your music, no matter where I am or what I am doing - whether it be sitting in the hair salon getting my hair coloured blue, or pushing myself in the weight area at the gym, or just during some down time in my house - it all floods back and I immediately reembark on the journey I’ve been on. I reflect upon how far you’ve helped me to grow, and I am proud of myself in those moments. 

I know that the journey will never be completely over, but I’ve made it through the worst. And even as I grow older, I will never stop looking up to you, supporting you, and cheering you on. And right now, I understand you need it more than ever. My thoughts continue to be with you through your time of recovery. I am thinking and sending all my love to you, your family and friends, as when it comes to mental health, we all need each other.

May a Skyscraper of strength help you to recover, may the Gift of a Friend get you back on the mend, to Give Your Heart a Break, there’s no need to pretend. You don't have to say, “Tell Me You Love Me” because Demi; we already do! You are a light in this world and through the darkness we are praying that you shine through - we know you will, you are a Warrior. 

Your hospitalisation doesn't change the fact that you are a role model. It doesn't change the fact that you’ve helped push critical conversations forward about mental health and self-worth in extremely meaningful and positive ways. And it doesn't change the fact that you remain a hero, you are so much more than a singer or an artist. I hope we never put too much pressure on you because we see you as such, but instead that we can empower and support you in the same way you empower and support each one of us.

Demi, you’ve taught me that no matter what I (or others!) go through, whether it’s a mental illness, being bullied at school, cutting, having a substance abuse issue or an eating disorder, not to be afraid to ask for help. You helped me save my own life, and I will always be extremely thankful. You’ve helped me see that I am worthy of life and have so much going for me. October this year will celebrate 5 years without a ‘relapse’. You’ve helped me through these years, and so much more.

Despite this lengthy open letter, if there was only one thing I could say to you, that would be that I love you and out of the regrets you may have, the apologies you've gave, and the promises you've made, the only ones that matter were those delivered last. 

“I’m sorry that I’m here again. I promise I’ll get help… I’m sorry to myself”

Demi, take all the time you need to focus on your own health. We are behind you every step of the way and know you will come back stronger than ever. Stay Strong beautiful.

Much love and many hugs,
Kathleen 

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