Lady Gaga is one of the most outspoken figures in pop. Since bursting on the music scene with her hit debut album The Fame in 2008, the 30-year-old singer has become known not only for her chart successes but philanthropic work – from standing up for LGBT rights to launching a youth-empowerment foundation four years ago and revealing her own ongoing battles with depression and anxiety.
But while visiting a homeless shelter in New York, Lady Gaga opened up publicly for the first time about suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), since being raped at the age of 19. Later tweeting: ‘Today I shared one my deepest secrets w/ the world. Secrets keep you sick w/ shame.’
Now, to help others who may also be suffering, the US singer has posted a heart-breaking open letter to her Born This Way Foundation website in which she describes the ‘chronic pain’ and ‘shame attached to mental illness.’
‘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.’
‘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.’