REVIEW: Demi Lovato Opens up About Traumatic Overdose in New Docu-series “Dancing With the Devil”

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The first two episodes of Demi Lovato’s new docu-series, “Dancing With the Devil,” was released early this week on YouTube Originals. This series gives an inside look at Lovato’s personal and musical journey over the past three years, leading up to and following her near-fatal overdose in 2018.

This mini-series was set to be a follow-up to Lovato’s previous documentary, “Simply Complicated,” but after her overdose that project was put on hold. It would have followed Lovato’s “Tell Me You Love Me” world tour. 

“It’s been two years since I came face-to-face with the darkest point in my life,” Lovato said. “And now I’m ready to share my story with the world.”

After watching the first two episodes, I was heartbroken for Lovato. There was not a single dry eye — including my own — when her friends and family talked about the overdose. Addictions, eating disorders and mental health issues are never easy to deal with. For Lovato to have gone through these struggles multiple times and still be an open advocate for recovery is truly incredible. 

Episode one, “losing control,” gives insight into the months leading up to Lovato’s 2018 overdose. It features her family and close friends helping to share her story alongside her. Lovato prefaces the documentary with her early childhood life. She talked about her estranged relationship with her father which rooted from his alcoholism, addiction and abuse towards her mother. She also mentioned how beauty pageants and an early acting career led to the development of her eating disorder.

Matthew Scott Montgomery, one of Lovato’s closest friends, talked about her previous management team and how much they controlled her and forced her to be a “shining role model” at all times. This also negatively contributed to her eating disorder.

The episode includes previously unreleased, behind-the-scenes footage of Lovato during her tour, which is captured in a vulnerable light, for what would have been her 2018 documentary. One choreographer described the tour as “emotionally miserable.” 

Episode 2, “5 minutes from death,” is where things get heavy. This episode talks about the full story of Lovato’s overdose. Jordan Jackson, Lovato’s former assistant, starts off the episode by discussing what happened leading up to her calling 911. 

Throughout the episode, Lovato’s friends and family took turns sharing how they found out about her overdose. Some found out through fellow friends, others through social media. It was disheartening to hear that most of her friends and family found out when they started to receive numerous texts from friends saying they would keep Lovato in their prayers.

“I actually don’t think people realize how bad it actually was,” Lovato said. She suffered three strokes, a heart attack, brain damage from the strokes, multi-organ failure, pneumonia from asphyxiation, was legally blind when she woke up and now has blind spots in her vision. Lovato realized the severity of her overdose, alluding multiple times to the idea that she could have been dead.

You need to have a box of tissues present for these first two episodes. It’s so surreal to think that if the day of the overdose played out differently, she would most likely have been dead. I grew up being a long-time fan of Lovato, and when she started to become an advocate for mental health I was inspired to do the same. She created a safe space for not just me, but millions of other people to talk about mental health. 

This documentary is raw, real and full of emotion. I highly recommend it to anyone, regardless of if they have a connection to the aforementioned issues. There’s something empowering and inspiring about a celebrity setting the record straight about their own life, and not letting the media do so.

Needless to say, I’m excited and happy that Lovato, along with her friends and family, are willing to “bare all” for this documentary. She’s faced so much in her life, which is touched on in her “Simply Complicated” documentary. Unfortunately, cruel jokes online and harsh coverage from the media likely made this experience that much harder for Lovato.

I’m excited for the next episodes of her documentary, as I’m sure they will be filled with tears, healing from trauma and an anticipation of knowing how long Lovato has been sober again. Due to the topics covered in this docu-series, it is important to practice good mental health self-care before, during and after the program.

You can watch the first two episodes of “Dancing With the Devil” now on YouTube Originals. New episodes will be released weekly.

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