Lady Gaga has always been an open book about her struggles, speaking candidly about mental health issues, surviving sexual assault and experiencing chronic illness – it’s one of the reasons her fans love her so much. However, in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey for Elle Magazine, Gaga said there are certain elements of her past she doesn’t want to “glamorise.”
Speaking to Oprah, Gaga said she was always hesitant to speak about her experiences with self-harm, worrying about the impact it might have on fans. “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 realise that what I was doing was trying to show people that I was in pain instead of telling them and asking for help,” she said.
“When I realised 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.”
“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 glamorise it,” she added.
While Gaga admits self-harm isn’t something that should be romanticised, she said she believes the conversation around it is an “important thing for people to know and hear.”
One of the ways Gaga has turned her struggles into positivity is via the Born This Way Foundation. The foundation, started in 2012 by Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta, aims to “support the mental and emotional wellness of young people by putting their needs, ideas, and voices first,” through action-oriented programs and useful resources.
In June this year, Gaga brought an Australian-born program teaching “mental health first aid” in high schools all the way to the United States. The program covers issues including anxiety, depression, eating disorders as well as facing suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
“It helps kids identify when a friend might be in trouble and how to have a supportive conversation,” program designer Dr. Claire Kelly told Triple J’s Hack. The program could be particularly pivotal, considering young Aussie are more psychologically distressed than ever before.
It’s inspirational to see someone like Lady Gaga use their platform and past struggles to help people take real action and keep the conversation about mental health open. Cheers to you, Gaga.