Lady Gaga opens up about her mental illness to LGBT youth

Lady Gaga opens up about her mental illness to LGBT youth
Lady Gaga visited the Ali Forney Center the day after Thanksgiving. Photo: Via Instagram

Lady Gaga recently visited with LGBTQ youth at the Ali Forney Center in New York City, where she gave out gifts, lead a group meditation and performed “Million Reasons.”

She also revealed to them that she suffers from a mental illness. She went more in depth later when speaking with “Today” reporters, who were on hand during her visit with the youth, as part of the share kindness campaign partnership of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and Today and NBC Universal.

Gaga reported that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I suffer from PTSD. I’ve never told anyone that before, so here we are,” she said. “But the kindness that’s been shown to me by doctors — as well as my family and my friends — it’s really saved my life. I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”

“I believe that kindness is the cure to violence and hatred around the world,” she added.

She noted that many of those she visited with are trauma survivors, as she herself is, telling Howard Stern two years ago that she was raped as a teenager.

She explained that her own experiences of trauma help her to understand what others face.

Gaga went into more detail in an open letter posted to her Born This Way Foundation’s website:

I have wrestled for some time about when, how and if I should reveal my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After five years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am finally well enough to tell you. There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it’s important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery.

It is a daily effort for me, even during this album cycle, to regulate my nervous system so that I don’t panic over circumstances that to many would seem like normal life situations. Examples are leaving the house or being touched by strangers who simply want to share their enthusiasm for my music.

I also struggle with triggers from the memories I carry from my feelings of past years on tour when my needs and requests for balance were being ignored. I was overworked and not taken seriously when I shared my pain and concern that something was wrong. I ultimately ended up injured on the Born This Way Ball. That moment and the memory of it has changed my life forever.  The experience of performing night after night in mental and physical pain ingrained in me a trauma that I relive when I see or hear things that remind me of those days.

I also experience something called dissociation which means that my mind doesn’t want to relive the pain so “I look off and I stare” in a glazed over state….

When this happens I can’t talk. When this happens repeatedly, it makes me have a common PTSD reaction which is that I feel depressed and unable to function like I used to…Additionally, when I am unable to regulate my anxiety, it can result in somatization, which is pain in the body caused by an inability to express my emotional pain in words.

But I am a strong and powerful woman who is aware of the love I have around me from my team, my family and friends, my doctors and from my incredible fans who I know will never give up on me.  I will never give up on my dreams of art and music. I am continuing to learn how to transcend this because I know I can.  If you relate to what I am sharing, please know that you can too.

Traditionally, many associate PTSD as a condition faced by brave men and women that serve countries all over the world. While this is true, I seek to raise awareness that this mental illness affects all kinds of people, including our youth. I pledge not only to help our youth not feel ashamed of their own conditions, but also to lend support to those servicemen and women who suffer from PTSD. No one’s invisible pain should go unnoticed.

I am doing various modalities of psychotherapy and am on medicine prescribed by my psychiatrist.  However, I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words. Kind words…positive words…words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free. This is how I and we can begin to heal. I am starting today, because secrets keep you sick. And I don’t want to keep this secret anymore…

Click here or visit the National Institute for Mental Health for more information on PTSD in all its forms and where to find help. If you are in crisis now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8225).

To read the full letter go here.

Gaga recently said she intends to use her platform to speak out to “protect social progress” in Trump’s America.

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