One of the things I have to explain to people when they ask me questions about my past is that I have little to no memory of childhood. At least, nothing that doesn't relate to developing suffocating depression and anxiety at the age of 13.
What I can remember, though, is that I grew up at the time that Demi Lovato was making a name for herself. Camp Rock was hitting the TV screens, followed by Sonny With A Chance. Then the rumours started. Photographs were appearing in teen magazines of Demi with marks on her arms, her people were making statements saying that it was as a result of wearing too-tight bracelets and bangles, and the magazines were suggesting that maybe that was just a cover-up story. Maybe Demi Lovato was self-harming.
By the time Demi began opening up following a stint in a rehabilitation facility, I felt like I was drowning. I was now the one struggling with self-harm, but the accusing magazine articles about Demi Lovato were far from my mind. Then Stay Strong, a documentary about Demi, was released.
I can't tell you how many times I watched that documentary when it was first released. Even now, I occasionally go back and watch it. The raw honesty is still refreshing. It was the first time I experienced that feeling of finding out that I wasn't alone.
Eventually, I went to my head of pastoral care with a friend and a lot of what had happened came out. The overdoses were no longer something weighing only on my shoulders. The load was shared. It was another couple of years before I opened up about the self-harm, but that load was an awful lot easier to carry than the multiple suicide attempts I had under my belt.
With that, I think if I have anyone to thank profusely for saving my life at that particular point, it'd be Demi Lovato. As time's gone on, there have been others who have saved me, but back then it was Demi.
If nothing else, I think that only serves to emphasise the importance of positive role models for young people. We've no way of knowing the impact that a strong, honest role model can have on an individual. I just know that I'm forever grateful that I had such a person gracing the screen of my TV as a young teen.