Demi Lovato: 10 Things You Didn't Know

Pop star talks about her personal struggles in candid "Nightline" interview.

ByABC News
May 16, 2013, 3:10 PM

May 16, 2013— -- intro: Demi Lovato is a force to be reckoned with.

Just 20 years old, the singer-songwriter, who mixes pop beats with a hard edge, dropped her fourth album, "Demi," this week, on which she co-wrote almost all the songs. "Heart Attack," the new single off her latest album, is already on its way to being this summer's anthem.

Having been in the entertainment business since childhood, Lovato has been through the wringer, battling through several personal struggles, but now says she is stronger than ever.

In a candid interview with "Nightline," the singer shared both quirky and serious reflections about herself and her personal life, some of which might surprise you.

quicklist: 1title: Lovato Loves Kelly Clarksontext: A proud Southern girl, Lovato grew up in Dallas -- her mother was even an NFL cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys -- and said she was always drawn to powerful female vocalists, especially fellow Texan, Kelly Clarkson, 31.

"I grew up singing every single song that she sang," Lovato said. "There were times where my mom would hear me, I would be upstairs in my bedroom, on repeat, or I finally got a karaoke sound system, so I would be blaring it in the living room."

quicklist: 2title: Lovato Says Ex-Beau Joe Jonas Is Like Familytext: Who says you can't be friends with your ex?

For a few months in 2010, Lovato famously dated Joe Jonas of the famed Jones Brothers. While their relationship and eventual break-up made them a constant paparazzi target, Lovato said the two are now friends -- Jonas even tweeted congrats to Lovato for "Demi" this week -- but it wasn't always so easy.

"When you go through heartbreaks and things like that, you always have in mind somebody," she said. "It's like when you hear a song on the radio that reminds you of somebody, you're going to be reminded. But keeping that in mind ... it's a delicate balance.

"We were in a relationship and we broke up, and at one point, I was really mad at him," Lovato continued. "Now, I can, fortunately, say, that him, and his brother Nick, have always been there for me, and are literally family, and like brothers … we have a great friendship. And we may not be as close as we used to be, but that's OK."

quicklist: 3title: Lovato Was a Child Actortext: At age 7, Lovato was booked on the PBS series "Barney and Friends." She has been in show business ever since, and said being in the spotlight had a dramatic effect on her self-esteem.

"I had a few years where I was just doing commercials," she said. "But it wasn't until I was about 14, when I was on gossip sites, and, when those first blogs started writing, and people were leaving really mean comments, that it started affecting me."

quicklist: 4title: Lovato Said She Was Bulliedtext: Going from school to being on a TV show and back again was a "really hard transition," Lovato said, and she struggled with classmates who picked on her.

"There was a lot of bullies," she said. "Mainly, it's the most popular girl in the school, spreading rumors, and gossip, and everything like that."

quicklist: 5title: Lovato Sought Professional Help for Mental Illnesstext: Struggling with depression, bipolar disorder and an eating disorder through her pre-teen and teenage years is something that Lovato has been outspoken about. At age 11, she said, she started cutting herself.

"I had been battling with depression for years, and an eating disorder for years, and I had been self-harming, and other things, self-medicating, and I just wasn't happy anymore, and I needed to, I needed to change my life," Lovato said. "There were times beforehand where I had had meltdowns, or things like that, and my mom begged me to go into treatment, but I told her I would get better."

Finally, she realized she needed to get help.

"When I finally didn't get better, I knew that I was in trouble, and I knew that I couldn't do it on my own," she said. "So, whether I liked it or not, if I wanted to continue to live, and have a long career, or just be happy, then I needed to listen to what my management team and my family was saying, and go into treatment."

Lovato went through two stints in rehab, and while she said it helped, she still battles with her disorders every day. She recently became an honorary chairwoman for this year's Mental Health Awareness Day, hosted by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to help raise awareness.

"I can't sit here and say that I am Miss Recovery ... that I'll be that way for the rest of my life," she said. "You don't know, and that's why you have to take it a day at a time."

quicklist: 6title: Lovato Loves Lindsay Lohantext: If there is one young person in Hollywood to whom Lovato can relate, it's probably troubled starlet Lindsay Lohan. Lovato said she embraces Lohan with open arms.

"She is one of my friends," Lovato said. "And I will always be there if she ever reaches out … if I can help somebody, of course, I'm going to be there, and I love Lindsay."

quicklist: 7title: Lovato Thinks Simon Cowell Is a 'Genius'text: When she's not in the studio laying down the next hits to slam the pop charts, Lovato is working as a judge on competitive talent show, "The X-Factor," sitting alongside the great Simon Cowell.

"We have a really fun relationship," Lovato said. "He, I think, is fascinated by my spirit, and my journey, and just, I don't know, my honesty. And, with him, I'm fascinated as well. I have so much to learn from this guy. He literally is a genius."

And although Britney Spears left the show, now in its second season, Lovato respects the princess of pop.

"If you got the opportunity to sit next to Britney, several times a week, you would miss her, too," she said.

quicklist: 8title: Lovato Wants to Break 'Mold of Perfection' for Young Girlstext: After struggling with her own body-image pressures for years, Lovato said she hopes young girls can hear her story and realize that they don't have to be anyone but themselves.

"My goal in my life is to break that mold of perfection that all young women have," she said. "I was able to get help, because I wanted to be that person to break the mold for other people, and, with that, not only has it, has it taught me to really accept myself, but also, I've had tons of young girls say that I have saved their lives, and that's something that I can't really fathom, at all."

quicklist: 9title: Lovato Doesn't Do It Alonetext: Lovato said she turns to many people for support.

"I have tons of rocks," she said, referring to people on whom she leans on for support. "If you lean on only one person, then you become co-dependent on that person, which is something that I've learned. So, in order to avoid co-dependency issues, along with all the other issues that I have, you have to have a support system."

quicklist: 10title: Her New Tattoo Has Deep Meaning for Hertext: Aside from a new album, Lovato this week debuted something else personal to her: A tattoo on her shoulder that says, "now I'm a warrior" in black script. It's her 12th tattoo and also a lyric from her song "Warrior," but one that she said is "deeply personal" to her.

"I mention this song because it is a very powerful song," Lovato said. "It is the song that I want my fans to hear, and apply it to any situation that they can relate to.

"I think if you were to listen to one song that would sum up my message on this album, that's the one that it would be."