Lady Gaga Reveals She Has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Lady Gaga reveals she has PTSD

Lady Gaga speaking at a vigil for the Pulse Orlando shooting victims
Source: Eric Garcetti / Flickr

Lady Gaga has mentioned that she has struggled with mental health issues in the past but has rarely mentioned specifics. Now, almost two years after revealing to the world that she was raped at the age of 19, the singer and actress publicly told a group of young LGBT people in New York that she lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“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,” she added. “I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way.”

The singer was visiting the center as part of a collaboration between the NBC morning show and her foundation, Born This Way, for the #ShareKindness campaign.

Gaga discussed her history of mental illness and trauma with the teens, including sharing meditation tips to help manage the struggles of mental health issues and to stay relaxed.

“These children are not just homeless or in need. Many of them are trauma survivors. They’ve been rejected in some type of way,” she said.

“I am no better than any of those kids. And I’m no worse than any of them,” she added. “We are equal. We both walk our two feet on the same earth. And we’re in this together.”

Update: 12/8/2016

Lady Gaga recently elaborated on her experiences with post-traumatic stress disorder and how PTSD has affected her life in an open letter published on the website for her Born This Way Foundation.

“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,” the singer wrote.

You can read the full open letter below or on the Born This Way Foundation website here.

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. As my doctors have taught me, I cannot express my feelings because my pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls logical, orderly thought) is overridden by the amygdala (which stores emotional memory) and sends me into a fight or flight response. My body is in one place and my mind in another. It’s like the panic accelerator in my mind gets stuck and I am paralyzed with fear.

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. It’s harder to do my job. It’s harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder. 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.

A note from my psychologist, drnancy;

If you think you might have PTSD, please seek professional help. There is so much hope for recovery. Many people think that the event that stimulated PTSD needs to be the focus. Yet often, people will experience the same event and have completely different reactions to it. It is my opinion that trauma occurs in an environment where your feelings and emotional experience are not valued, heard and understood. The specific event is not the cause of traumatic experience. This lack of a “relational home” for feelings is the true cause of traumatic experience. Finding support is key.

If you think you or someone you know may be living with mental illness, give us a call at (888) 298-4673. We can answer any questions you have and see if treatment is right for you.

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