Lady Gaga is used to baring her soul to her fans ― scars and all.
The multihyphenate entertainer has been outspoken about her mental health issues from surviving sexual assault and her chronic illnesses in the last few years. Now she’s digging even deeper, opening up about her history with self-harm.
“I was a cutter for a long time, and the only way that I was able to stop cutting and self-harming myself was to realize that what I was doing was trying to show people that I was in pain instead of telling them and asking for help,” Gaga explained. “When I realized that telling someone, ’Hey, I am having an urge to hurt myself,′ that defused it. I then had someone next to me saying, ‘You don’t have to show me. Just tell me: What are you feeling right now?’ And then I could just tell my story.”
She added: “I say that with a lot of humility and strength; I’m very grateful that I don’t do it anymore, and I wish to not glamorize it.”
Discussing self-harm or suicide in the media carries the risk that some, especially vulnerable young people, could romanticize it or view it as a solution. But Gaga said she believes this conversation ultimately is an “important thing for people to know and hear.”
The star has previously talked about a crisis earlier in her career stemming from a teenage sexual assault. It resulted in “debilitating mental spirals that have included suicidal ideation and masochistic behavior,” she said in a speech in November 2018.
The singer penned a powerful op-ed last year with Dr. Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the World Health Organization, about suicide and mental health stigma, in which they called for better access to services aimed at young people.
Gaga has, of course, turned words into action. She’s made mental wellness a cornerstone of her Born This Way foundation, which provides resources for anyone struggling.
Elsewhere in the Elle interview, the “Shallow” singer candidly discussed once having “psychotic break” due to the extreme pain related to fibromyalgia ― a condition characterized by muscle pain and tenderness ― that landed her in the emergency room.
“My whole body went numb; I fully dissociated,” she recalled. “I was screaming, and then [the doctor] calmed me down and gave me medication for when that happens.”
Gaga said she’s open about her personal pain because she believes shining a light on these issues could make a difference to someone struggling in silence.
“I have PTSD. I have chronic pain. Neuropathic pain trauma response is a weekly part of my life. I’m on medication; I have several doctors. This is how I survive,” she said.
However, “I kept going and that kid out there or even that adult out there who’s been through so much, I want them to know that they can keep going, and they can survive, and they can win their Oscar. I would also beckon to anyone to try, when they feel ready, to ask for help,” she continued. “And I would beckon to others that if they see someone suffering, to approach them and say, ‘Hey, I see you. I see that you’re suffering, and I’m here. Tell me your story.’”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.