Memoirs of Mental Health: Lady Gaga

I’ve been seeing snippets of Lady Gaga’s Lady Gaga’s interview on Oprah’s docuseries, The Me You Can’t See. Having not yet seen the show, I started to research if Gaga has ever written about her life. The closest thing I could find to a memoir was an essay she wrote as part of a compilation book put together by her foundation, Born This Way. Today I’ll be sharing some insights that I’ve gained from her remarkable story.

Bullying

“To be honest, it ultimately felt as though many relentless and quite mean children and adults around me were asking me why I existed […] Thus began my journey with bullying […] Once I was thrown in a trash can on a street corner by a group of boys that were friends with my bully. (They were instructed to do so.) I distinctly recall the laughter and joy they took in humiliating me while shouting, “That’s where you belong!” When I was younger, I was also pinched in the hallway by older girls who would grip my arm tightly and whisper to me, “You’re a slut,” as I walked to class. They were jealous that the older boys at our brother school paid a lot of attention to me. Funnily enough, this impacted me so much that I even feel the need to clarify while writing this for you—I was most certainly not a slut” (B. T. W. F., & Gaga, 2020, p. xi-xii).

Though I experienced extensive bullying growing up, I’ve really begun to understand how pervasive it is as I work with adolescents in my therapy practice. Gaga summarized the root of bullying well when she mentioned how her peers tormented her for simply existing. Having been a counselor in the middle school setting, I’ve witnessed how bad bullying can be in the age of smartphones and social media (I’m so glad that this tech wasn’t around when I was in middle school!) I say all of this to emphasize the mental health consequences that bullying is having on today’s adolescents and young adults. Bullying leaves emotional wounds that can persist well into adulthood.

Mental Illness and Mental Health

Rather than summarize what I’ve learned about Gaga’s mental health journey, I’ll let you see it in her own words:

“Having depression, anorexia, bulimia, anxiety, and masochistic tendencies that included scratching or cutting my arms with knives when I was in emotional distress. This went on from age eleven till rather recently in my early thirties, and I still struggle with some of these things […] I went on to achieve things beyond my wildest imagination, and I was still haunted and plagued by massive insecurities and mental health problems that emerged—PTSD being one of them […] My trauma history is extensive […] I can once again admit that I was repeatedly raped when I was nineteen by someone in the music industry and as I got sicker and sicker mentally on tour after my career took off, no one helped me until I essentially went rogue […] I grew up around alcoholism and developed a neuropathic pain condition— which is essentially, when I get stressed, I feel physical pain throughout my entire body. It’s so excruciating I can barely think” (B. T. W. F., & Gaga, 2020, p. xii-xiv).

Until doing this research, I didn’t have a clue of the pain that lived within one of my favorite entertainers. As a mental health professional, I commend Lady Gaga for being so transparent. Given her platform, her story will normalize mental illness and mental health services, which no doubt will make a big impact and hopefully save some lives.

Healing

Though Gaga has always been a huge advocate for mental health services, I was especially impressed with her thinking pattern that assisted her in her healing

“I developed a theory of The Value of Negative Space. The currency of understanding the gravity of what can happen when kindness is absent. There was a moment of silence after I cried in front of my class when my bully made fun of me, and I’ve learned now that those moments of quiet, when we don’t always know what to do, should be filled with kindness. What I find to be interesting is, there are actually two negative spaces that possess value: one that is empty, quiet, and ignores the absence of kindness; and another that is filled with negativity. Filling this space is my life now […] It’s important to pause and think about what you’re doing, just in case you might hurt someone. And by someone, that includes yourself. Don’t just respond with kindness: fill the empty with it” (B. T. W. F., & Gaga, 2020, p. xv).

Conclusion

After learning more about her story, I’m gonna spend the rest of my Sunday binge-watching The Me You Can’t See. Stay tuned, as I’ll probably be writing up something on Prince Harry, as he talks about EMDR therapy on his episode of the show!

For more on the mental health conditions that Lady Gaga mentioned, I have linked some posts on those topics below:

Thanks for reading!

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Works Cited 

Reporters, B. T. W. F., & Gaga, L. (2020). Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

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3 thoughts on “Memoirs of Mental Health: Lady Gaga”

  1. Ashley says:

    It’s definitely a good thing to have someone so high profile speaking up about mental illness.

    1. Indeed! Thanks so much for reading 🙂

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