Lady Gaga Admits to PTSD - How Many Others Suffer in Silence?
Lady Gaga Deserves Some "Applause"
When Lady Gaga first hit the music scene, there were many who questioned this seemingly avant garde singer. Who wears a meat dress? Who shows up to an awards show, ostensibly to promote a new album, hidden away in an egg to symbolize a rebirth? Though the power of her music was undeniable, there was much about how she promoted herself—those clothes, that hair, those shoes!—that completely confused a lot of people.
Now, however, she's using her star power to shine the spotlight on an issue that is getting increasing attention through social media and other venues—mental health issues; specifically, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In 2014, Gaga admitted to being raped at 19, and on November 25, during a visit to the Ali Forney LGBTQ homeless shelter, she acknowledged her struggles with PTSD.
“My own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others,” Gaga said while talking with Today. “I told the kids today that I suffer from a mental illness. I suffer from PTSD. I’ve never told that to anyone before, so here we are.”
She then took the kids at the homeless shelter through a meditation exercise designed to calm and improve focus. Her visit to the homeless shelter was a surprise to almost all of the staff and to those staying at the shelter, who started screaming when they realized who was coming in bearing clothes and donuts.
It is not easy to reveal a mental illness, both to those who do not know you well and to those that do. In disclosing her battle with PTSD, Lady Gaga has promoted the idea that it is okay to discuss mental illness in the hopes that the stigma about it be lessened.
In a tweet, Lady Gaga noted that secrets keep you "sick with shame" and do not promote healing, which so many with mental illness need.
Her visit kicked off a campaign designed to encourage people to share kindness, which she says ultimately saved her life when it was shown to her.
"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 acknowledged."I’ve been searching for ways to heal myself, and I’ve found that kindness is the best way."
Sharing Secrets In Hopes Of Healing
A New Hope
It's not easy to disclose that you have a mental illness, and being so open about her own struggles with mental health has allowed Lady Gaga to understand her fans a bit better than some. She acknowledged that understanding during her interview with Today, and credits both kindness and learning how to calm herself as ways to help her as she continues to recover.
Finding out how to heal yourself from a mental health condition can take a lifetime and be exhausting. Anyone with any sort of mental health struggle - whether that struggle is PTSD or anxiety or depression or the so many other illnesses out in the world - knows the dedication and hard work that comes with healthfully coping with a mental health condition. It's made even more exhausting because so few people know that you are struggling, and healing can come easier if you have a team who's got your back.
But so many with mental health conditions like PTSD don't know how to express what's happening. It seems as though we lack the language to discuss mental health conditions fluently, and that in large part is still due to the stigma that surrounds mental health in general. Words like "crazy" or "weak" tend to be thrown thoughtlessly about, and that only further promotes a lack of understanding and compassion. When someone decides to try and find help, they are either met with a lack of funds to pay for the support or a lack of adequately trained personnel.
While Lady Gaga is by no means a counsellor, what she has done in discussing PTSD so openly is tacitly given people the go-ahead to talk. If one of the biggest pop stars on the planet can talk about what she has endured in the 11 years since her rape, it seems a lot more okay to try and discuss mental health among us "normal" people. That alone can give people the hope they need that there are people that actually understand how they're feeling rather than trying to continue to hide from the world.
By igniting the conversation about PTSD, Lady Gaga may have given some with this condition or other mental health conditions hope that there truly are people who understand out there. That hope could be enough for people to try and obtain the help they need and want.