Depression doesn't discriminate.
It doesn't care if you are rich or poor, young or old. It doesn't see skin color or status. It affects all different kinds of people. If you are one of those people or know someone who battles with depression, this article is for you.
Demi Lovato sits down with Jay Shetty to chat about their battle with depression, understanding their identity, and finding grace and compassion for others who aren't on the same page. Lovato credits their strength and resolve to daily meditation and shares how you can heal past traumas to move forward in life.
How Life Changed During Quarantine
Quarantine during the pandemic was life-changing for many people. People tried new things, gained knowledge, and developed new hobbies. It gave us time to think about things and put life into perspective. Demi Lovato tells Jay Shetty that quarantine changed their life.
“I picked up so many little things that I didn't use to do,” explains Lovato. “I used to never spend time outside, and I feel like now I go outside and I play with my backyard squirrels or feed the animals in my backyard. It's something I never used to do. Now I do that and I have a connection with these little beings. I got into candlemaking, and I also got into photography. I learned so much about myself. So it's just, it's been quite the little journey.”
Lovato learned to embrace the downtime of quarantine to learn and grow their skillset.
As an ambitious five-year-old, Demi Lovato dreamed of being the next Shirley Temple.
“I knew what she had accomplished at such a young age, and I wanted to do that,” Lovato tells Jay Shetty. “I wanted to be the youngest person to ever win a Grammy, the youngest person to ever win an Oscar. It didn't work out, but that’s how much I dreamed.”
Dreaming big led to an incredibly successful career for Lovato. They built a successful empire with multiple accolades and awards, and their impact on the world is profound. Battling through depression at a young age, they vowed to help other people with depression if they ever made it big.
“I made a promise with God,” Lovato tells Shetty. “I said, ‘If you make me a famous singer, I will try to make the world a better place. I became a singer, and here I am trying to make the world a better place.”
Battling the demons of depression as a child, they looked for a role model in the industry but didn't find one. They made it their life's mission to be that person for others.
“I find it so powerful when someone turns their pain into their purpose or turns something that broke them into a breakthrough for other people,” Shetty says.
Finding Your Identity
“I always knew I was different,” Demi Lovato explains.
Lovato became aware of their identity while in a relationship with a man they were engaged to.
“I always felt like one day it would click, and finally I felt like it did,” Lovato tells Jay Shetty. “I was in a straight relationship with a man and was engaged. My life was taking a course and I thought I could see the ending, but then I just thought this isn't for me. And when that ended, it forced me to take a look at myself and the things that needed to change or accept, and I realized that I'm too queer to marry a man, and I wasn't identifying as female anymore.”
“You gave yourself permission to be more of yourself,” Jay Shetty responds.
Jay Shetty likens Lovato's journey of self-discovery to his time as a monk.
“When I graduated, I decided to go and live as a monk for three years instead of going into the world,” Jay Shetty shares. “And those three years gave me time to build a relationship with myself. Whenever anyone asks me what I did during that time, I explain the biggest thing I gained from that time was that I got three years where there were no opinions, no expectations, no obligations, no noise, no predictions, projections, or interpretations of who I was or who I should be.”
What Gender Non-Conforming Means
A trip to a poetry slam show with a friend opened the floodgates for Demi Lovato.
“They talked about being non-binary, and that show really resonated with me,” Lovato tells Shetty. “But it was right after that, I jumped into a hetero relationship. I wasn't allowing myself time to get to know myself before I jumped into something, and I think that being stuck at home during the pandemic forced me to take a look at myself outside of the lights and the cameras. I realized that I'm not who I am onstage, and there's so much more to me than that. It was a really cool lesson to learn.”
Demi Lovato credits the people surrounding them with the grace to accept and navigate the experience.
“I had a lot of conversations with people around me who were familiar with what I had learned about being non-binary and gender non-conforming,” Lovato tells Jay Shetty. “And so I had a lot of support around me to navigate through those times and conversations.”
Demi Lovato tried on the non-binary identity, and the longer they wore it, the more it felt right. Even though there are people who don't understand or accept Lovato for their identity, they take it with a grain of salt and chalk it up to that person's unreadiness to learn what non-binary, gender non-conforming means.
“I just think to myself when I hear someone either purposely mess up my pronouns or just disregard, ‘Okay, they're not ready yet.’ And one day they will be and that's okay,” Lovato explains.
Meditation helps foster the forgiving, patient, and compassionate nature Lovato extends to others.
“I started meditating a lot,” Lovato tells Jay Shetty. “Meditation was something for me that was really transformative because I really went inward. And when I went inward, my mind grew outwards.”
Meditation allows them to clear their mind and get to a point where they can release the anger and grudges they hold against others.
“Being human is having compassion and understanding and respect for people, even when they mess up,” they explain to Jay Shetty. “We all mess up, and I've messed up a bunch. But I know that because I've messed up, I can have grace and mercy for other people when they mess up.”
Demi Lovato finds strength through the people who surround them. Their friends, family, and treatment team make them feel supported and never feel alone.
Guided meditations and chakra work are the tools of choice for Lovato when they need to regroup or go deep within themselves – but it wasn’t always that way. The thought that meditation has to be perfect kept Lovato from trying it for a long time.
“The great thing about meditation for me is that I thought that you had to be completely silent still with your eyes closed,” Lovato tells Jay Shetty. “But there's different types of meditation. As long as you are quieting your thoughts and trying to just chill, then it's good. You can meditate with your eyes open, you can meditate while you're doing things. People don't realize how easy it is, and you don't have to be perfect at it.”
Jay Shetty adds that trying to be perfect is almost as far from meditation as it can be. It should be a natural thought process that allows you to connect with yourself. Lovato tells Jay Shetty that their intuition raises its hand during meditation.
“It’s like, ‘Hey, listen to me, here's a song idea’ or ‘Reach out to this person’. Sometimes weird things happen where I don't reach out to that person, but they reach out to me,” Lovato shares “It’s interesting how your intuition starts to work when you really start to listen to it.”
Your Inner Voice
Intuition is that inner voice you tend to overlook because you have been ignoring it for so long. But the more you listen out for it, the stronger it gets. It is easy to get caught up in judging yourself for things, making it harder to hear it.
“I look in the mirror and find something immediately wrong with what I see,” Lovato tells Jay Shetty. “Sometimes it's just easier to go in that shame spiral where you get onto yourself for one thing, and then all of a sudden because I don't like my hair, that means that my body is wrong. Or because I'm not liking my body, now I feel unlovable, and it just goes into that spiral.”
Jay Shetty encourages us all to stop and ask why we go to that negative place. Think about the things you like. Approach the mirror with love and compassion and train your mind to see what you love.
Have confidence in your intuition. Honor that voice inside of you. If you keep ignoring it, thinking that it’s not necessary or relevant, and negatively talking to yourself, that voice just gets quieter and quieter. Then when you need it, you can't hear it anymore.
Find Your Tribe
Everyone needs people who support them in their journey. They are the ones who cheer you on and lift you in those bad times. They’re the people you can turn to when you need a friend, advice, or shoulder to cry on. Find the people who encourage you to be yourself and love you even when you make mistakes. For Demi Lovato, spending time with people who help her co-regulate brings joy.
“Just getting away with my friends, my family, and being in nature, whether it's going out to the desert or Colorado in the mountains, having time to recharge, meditate, whatever it is that we want to do is what makes me joyful, find happiness and recharge,” Lovato tells Jay Shetty.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Demi Lovato ON “Depression, Healing and Finding Your Own Identity” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.