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5 Heartbreaking Revelations From Demi Lovato’s ‘Dancing With The Devil’ Documentary

today18 March 2021

*T/W: This article contains topics that may be triggering for some. Reader discretion is advised.


We were meant to follow Disney alum, Demi Lovato, on her 2018 ‘Tell Me You Love Me’ world tour in a documentary (we can only assume) à la Ariana Grande’s ‘Excuse Me I Love You’. But, fast forward three years later, what we have instead is a heartbreakingly honest look at the 28-year-olds battle with her demons – or, as she’s dubbed it, “Dancing with the Devil”.



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Separated into four, almost half-hour parts, ‘Dancing with the Devil’ sees Lovato leave nothing out following the overdose that nearly took her life in 2018. The ‘Skyscraper’ singer made the decision to speak about her experiences candidly, stating:


“I’ve had so much I’ve wanted to say over the last two years, of wanting to set the record straight about what it was that happened. FYI, I am just going to say it all and if we don’t want to use it we can take it out.”


And the revelations vary from shocking to downright heartbreaking. The trailer, initially released in mid-February, gave us a glimpse into the physical extent of the overdose. But, the docuseries – released as the opening at the SXSW film festival ahead of its March 23 Youtube Originals drop – really humanises the young woman that Demi Lovato is; highlighting the very human, very traumatising situations she’s had to deal with beyond her status as a singer and actress. Amongst the revelations from ‘Dancing with the Devil’ are…


1. Her assistant saved her life.

When Lovato was found immobile and unresponsive in her bed on July 24 in 2018, her assistant Jordan Jackson called 911. However, she had to do it in secret, as she was afraid of “[getting] in trouble for calling 911”. In retrospect, Lovato’s head of security and chief of staff Max Lea says Jackson’s handling of the situation was commendable, having the presence of mind to call both her and 911. Thanks to Jackson’s quick thinking, paramedics that arrived managed to administer medication to reverse the effects of the overdose before taking her to the hospital. Lovato says she was “lucky to be alive” and attributes her luck to her assistant.


“My doctors said that, like, I had five to 10 more minutes, and had my assistant not come in, I wouldn’t be here today.”


2. She couldn’t recognise her sister following the overdose.

Lovato’s younger sister Madison De La Garza, who had rushed to the hospital upon hearing the news of her overdose, said that the first thing Lovato had asked upon feeling her sister’s hand on hers is: “Who is that?”As it turns out, the overdose lead Lovato to be legally blind. In the documentary, neurologist Dr. Shouri Lahiri is brought in to explain how the overdose affected areas of her brain that were in control of her vision. And while her vision ultimately (and thankfully) came back, at the time, her sister thought she would be blind forever.


3. Lovato doubted that anyone would “want to work with [her]” following the overdose.

During her stay at The Cirque Lodge rehabilitation facility following the overdoes, Lovato wanted to get back into music and sought out Scooter Braun (manager to Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande). At the time, Braun had intended to slowly but surely decline Lovato’s request as he felt “overwhelmed”. After all, the media buzz surrounding the singer wasn’t the most positive. Lovato herself admitted that, as a singer who had just overdosed, she may have been perceived as a “liability” to the bigwigs in music. However, Braun soon got to work being a part of Lovato’s recovery, as he recognised that Lovato needed a friend just as much as she needed a manager.


4. Her initial diagnosis of bipolar disorder may have been wrong all this time. 

In 2011, Lovato was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Since her diagnosis, she’s been a vocal advocate for the effects, journey and options for those who are also struggling with mental health issues. But in the documentary, Lovato reveals that the diagnosis may have been inaccurate.


“I came out to the public when I found out I was bipolar because I thought that it put a reasoning behind my actions. I know now from multiple different doctors that it was not because I was bipolar. And I had to grow up. I had to grow the f*** up.”

5. Fathers Day is a grisly reminder of her biological fathers passing.

Patrick Lovato passed away in June 2013  as a result of cancer. However, the exact date of his passing remains unknown as he had only been discovered a week and a half after he had passed. Lovato has been vocal about her complicated relationship with her biological father, who also struggled with substance abuse on top of mental illness (he was both bipolar and schizophrenic). As a result of his own demons, Lovato said in her ‘Simply Complicated’ documentary that he was incapable of looking after them, calling him “abusive” but also noting that he was someone who “wanted to be a good person.” As a result, his passing left her with conflicting emotions, causing her to relive the emotions every Fathers Day – around the time his body was discovered.


“And then also knowing that by the time Father’s Day rolls around, he was just laying there… That was the fear I always had for him was that he would end up alone — and he did. He died alone.”


That’s not all that we learn about Demi Lovato, on the intimate journey following her near-death experience. Director Janet Pierson credits Lovato for her ability to speak so publically about it, sharing:


“It’s impressive and rare to see a pop superstar tell their story so authentically and without pretence. Demi Lovato’s profound interest in mental health awareness is helping change the landscape of a crucial issue in this year of national and international trauma and loss.”



*Cover image credits: @ddlovato

Written by: Marissa Anne

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