UPDATE // DECEMBER 6:
Lady Gaga faced a wave of confusion and backlash from naysayers not understanding her struggle with PTSD. She wrote a personal letter detailing her battle and posted it on her Born This Way Foundation's website, which you may read below:
“Head Stuck in a Cycle I Look Off and I Stare” A personal letter from Gaga
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.
For more information on where to seek help with PTSD, click here.
UPDATE // DECEMBER 6:
Lady Gaga is clarifying her PTSD doesn't stem from only sexual assault, but rather a culmination of monstrosities throughout her career.
"It wasn't just sexual assault that led to my complex PTSD," she wrote. "I have prolonged repetitive traumas over the course of my career. #ShareKindness"
EARLIER // DECEMBER 5:
"We as a world are suffering from war...Kindness is the way to becoming more harmonious."
With Joanne, Lady Gaga has decided to let down her guard. Like never before, the Grammy Award winning artist is opening up about her struggles with fame, overexposure and past trauma that's haunted her for over a decade.
The week before last, Mother Monster paid a visit to the Ali Forney Center, a shelter for homeless LGBT youth in Harlem, NY. Footage of the pop star singing "Million Reasons" raced around the Internet around Thanksgiving and warmed our hearts, but her new interview with the Today Show sheds light on a chilling revelation: she suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
In conjunction with her #ShareKindness campaign, Gaga details her take on kindness.
"Kindness, to me, is an action of love or a showing of love to someone else," the pop singer said. "I also believe that kindness is the cure to violence and hatred around the world. I like to share kindness in a lot of different ways."
She adds: "I love to give things to people that have nothing or less than me. These children are not just homeless or in need. Many of them are trauma survivors; they've been rejected in some kind of way," she said. "My own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others."
For the first-time ever, Gaga opened up about her battle: "I don't have the same kind of issues that you have," she said, "but I have a mental illness and I struggle with that every day so I need my mantra to help keep me relaxed."
"I told the kids today that I suffer from a mental illness. I suffer from PTSD. I've never told anyone that before, so here we are," she revealed. "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."
At 19-years-old, Lady Gaga was raped by someone in the music industry. "I'd been searching for ways to heal myself. I found that kindness is the best way. The one way to help people that have trauma is to inject them with as many positive thoughts as possible."
One method of coping was singing the tender Diane Warren-penned ballad "Till It Happens To You."
She urged the kids to remember "that they're not alone and that they're loved," Gaga explained. "I am no better than any of those kids, and I'm no worse than any of them. We are equal. We both walk our two feet on the same earth and we're in this together. We as a world are suffering from war...Kindness is the way to becoming more harmonious..."
Gaga continued: "Those of us that have should give to those who have not during the holidays. Do one kind act before the end of the year. Just be kind," Gaga said. "The act itself, it's free—and it's priceless."