by Josh Grossberg | Tue., Apr. 19, 2011 11:20 AM
Demi Lovato is taking her chances elsewhere.
A rep for the troubled teen idol has confirmed to E! News that she's leaving her longtime perch as the star of Disney Channel's hit Sonny With a Chance to pursue her burgeoning pop career—and get over what's been ailing her.
Given the actress sought treatment recently for "physical and emotional issues," the change might do her good.
"It made sense for me to go ahead and leave the show to focus on my music," Lovato tells People. "It's kind of sad for me that a chapter of my life has ended but there couldn't be a better time for me to move on."
Particularly if being on the tube right now is an unfriendly reminder of the "nervous breakdown" she suffered last October while touring with the Jonas Brothers—an episode that led her to check into rehab, which she finished in January.
"I don't think going back to Sonny would be healthy for my recovery," says the 18-year-old actress-singer. "Being in front of a camera would make me nervous."
In a frank interview with ABC's Good Morning America and 20/20 set to air this Friday, Lovato acknowledges a lifelong struggle with an eating disorder and cutting issues, something she has been urging her young fans to get help for if they have confronted similar body image problems.
"I developed an eating disorder, and that's kind of what I've been dealing with ever since," she says of her battle with bulimia. "I was compulsively overeating when I was 8 years old. So, I guess, for the past 10 years I've had a really unhealthy relationship with food."
On cutting herself, Lovato is equally up front.
"It was a way of expressing my own shame, of myself, on my own body," she tells GMA cohost Robin Roberts. "I was matching the inside to the outside. And there were some times where my emotions were just so built up, I didn't know what to do. The only way that I could get instant gratification was through an immediate release on myself."
The problem, Demi says, only persisted as her music and TV career took off.
"I was performing concerts on an empty stomach. I was losing my voice from purging. I was self-medicating," she continues. "I was not taking medication for depression, and I literally was so emotionally whacked out that I took it out on someone that meant a lot to me."
A publicist for Disney wished the erstwhile Camp Rock star well.
"We respect Demi's decision to focus fulltime on her music and not immediately return to her acting career," said the rep in a statement. "She is a talented young woman and our hearts are with her as she continues to take action to improve her health and bounce back from adversity."
In Sonny With a Chance, Lovato plays teenager Sonny Munroe who becomes the newest cast member in a live, sketch-comedy show. Sonny premiered in February 2009 and was going strong after two seasons when the thesp decided to enter treatment.
Good thing Disney had planned for this—the Mouse House had refocused Sonny on the show within the show when production on the third season commenced earlier this year without her.
"We began production on So Random, a sketch comedy show and the show within Sonny With a Chance in January," a Disney Channel rep tells us. "We are currently still in production."
The retooled version of Sonny, aka So Random, will debut this June.
(Originally published April 19, 2011, at 9:38 a.m. PT)
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