"Never once did I ever think that I was gonna end up where I did," says the singer, prompting Zane Lowe to ask if she was "ready to talk about what happened."
Sitting down with Zane Lowe for New Music Daily on Apple Music's "Beats 1," the 27-year-old pop star who nearly lost her life two summers ago opened up about the downward spiral that led to her lengthy hospitalization.
"How did nobody listen to this song and think, 'Lets help this girl?'" she said of "Anyone," telling Zane she was "in a state of mind where I felt like I was okay, but clearly I wasn't." She wishes she could "go back in time and help that version of myself."
"I feel like I was in denial, but then a part of me definitely knew what I was singing for," she explained. "I was singing this song, and I didn't even realize that the lyrics were so heavy and emotional until after the fact. And that's what kind of brings us to this moment."
"I remember being in the hospital and listening to this song," she went on. "It was about a week after I had been in the hospital, and I was finally awake, and I just remember hearing back the songs I had just recorded and thinking, 'If there's ever a moment where I get to come back from this, I want to sing this song.'"
"A part of me was looking towards the future because that's what I do," she said. "When I'm struggling or I'm going through a rough time, I look towards the future for hope and to change my perspective on things. Especially when I go through something difficult, I stop and I say, 'Why is God putting me through this?' And sometimes it doesn't make sense in that moment, but kind of like the song, I recorded it, went through everything and then it made sense later. Like, okay, that's why these lyrics were so emotional when I was singing it, because they were actually so far deep in my soul of like asking for help that you can really feel that when you listen back to it."
Though music has been "a huge coping mechanism" as well as a great source of hope and healing, Demi says "there's only so much that music can do before you have to take responsibility and you have to take the initiative to get the help that you need."
"Obviously, when I look back, I can put puzzle pieces together, but it wasn't conscious. It wasn't in that moment that I could really go back and say, 'Okay, I was aware that it was gonna lead to this.' Never once did I ever think that I was gonna end up where I did," said the singer, prompting Zane to ask if she was "ready to talk about what happened."
"I'm in the process of becoming more and more ready as time goes by," she replied. "I think it's taken me a long time to be able to get this far, which is performing a song that's so vulnerable to me on a stage in front of all of my peers and coworkers and even people that I look up to. That's kind of nerve-racking to think about, but at the same time, I'm grateful that I have this opportunity to sit here and talk to you and tell a little bit of my story. I think as time goes on, I'm gonna tell more and more about it."
Demi said the next song she plans to release covers "more of the story," whereas "Anyone" is more about where she was "right before and right afterwards."
Of the people who helped her recover, she said, "I would say there were more people that I didn't know helping me out than people I knew because I had all of those people in my life already, I probably wouldn't have ended up where I did. So the help that I got was from people that I had met at new treatment centers or new doctors, new people like that that have been really helpful and beneficial to the journey and the life that I'm living today."
She said she's "definitely" cut off friends and environments she knows aren't good for her, but noted "it's still a process. As you meet people and as people come into your life, you still have to make a decision every time of like, 'Is this somebody that I want around?' If it's somebody that's a good influence on you and is supportive of the life that you wanna live then keep 'em. But if they're not, if it's not conducive to your journey that you wanna be on, there's no need for them to be in your life."
Though she's more aware of this need to be selective with who she lets into her world, Demi said she thinks she still has "that error in judgement. It's just a part of growing up. As people come into your life, as you meet people, you learn for your entire life, red flags, things to look for. Unless you're like 100 years old with a bunch of life experience, you're never gonna know right away who's good for you and who's not."
"Sometimes you get fooled," she added. "Sometimes you get into relationships that you think are healthy, and then you realize, 'Wow, that wasn't healthy at all.' And it's not that you're not conscious of it or not aware, it's just that you don't realize it until later, until they do something or you do something. And it's like, 'Oh, this isn't working out.' I kind of find that that continues to happen, and it's just a learning experience each time."
Demi said she's taken steps to protect herself by "removing the tags from Instagram. I can't see what people tag me in. I'm pretty sure I've taken off the comments on everything, too. Self-preservation."
She also said being aware of and planning ahead for the highs and lows of life is key.
"Something that I've dealt with in the past is having these really incredible experiences like the Grammys or like tour or concerts or things like that, and I have to be aware of like, okay, I'm gonna crash because my adrenaline's gonna go all weekend, and then I'm gonna have this performance -- whether it goes great or not -- my adrenaline is gonna come crashing down."
Indeed, she's got her Grammys performance this weekend and the Super Bowl National Anthem the next.
"It's definitely something I've talked to my team about," she said. "Like, 'Hey, we should be cautious. I might crash on Monday. Let's take precautions. Maybe I do more meditating on Monday or whatever it is. Maybe I have more therapy or support.' ... It's important to plan ahead so that you're not, come Monday after the Grammys, I'm not sitting there twiddling my thumbs like okay what am I doing with my life now."
In terms of the future, Demi said she wants to start a family in the next 10 years.
"All of this is great and it's beautiful and I'm lucky and I'm blessed and I'm grateful, but I've learned that clearly if all of this made you happy, I wouldn't have ended up where I did," she confessed. "My success does not measure my happiness, and so when I think about what makes me happy today, I think about my family, I think about my friends, I think about my team, I think about soul connections, meaningful relationships."
Committed to starting a family, Demi admitted she doesn't "know what that looks like. I don't even know if I see it with a man or a woman, but I just know that at some point, I would love to do that this decade."
As recently as a month before this interview took place, Demi started going to church. She "shied away" from it for a long time because she "didn't feel welcome. I was also questioning my sexuality."
She said she's found a church in Los Angeles she feels accepts her for who she is, no matter who she loves. It was her manager, Scooter Braun, who suggested going to church. Once there, she said she "heard God clearer than I had heard him in a long time."
Ultimately, Demi wants to "start doing more things that make me happy and worry less about success." She said 2020 is about focusing on her relationship with herself and God.
"I tried to seek God through other experiences, whether that's through other relationships or substances," she explained. "I had to realize the God that I'm seeking -- the God that I love and the God that I want to be my God -- is available 24/7, always at an arm's length and constantly with me."
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