Lady Gaga has opened up about her struggles with mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder before — but in a new Elle interview with Oprah Winfrey published Wednesday, she’s getting especially candid. The 33-year-old A Star Is Born actress confides in Winfrey about the steps she’s taken to manage her mental health and practice self care, specifically after living through sexual assault at the age of 19.
“I have PTSD,” she tells Winfrey. “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. But you know what, Oprah? 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.”
Neuropathic pain is caused by injuries or a disease of the nervous system, Mayo Clinic notes. PTSD is a mental health condition that’s triggered by experiencing or witnessing specific traumatic events, and about one in 11 people will be diagnosed with it over their life, the American Psychiatric Association notes. Gaga encouraged anyone going through something similar to seek out mental health resources.
“I would also beckon to anyone to try, when they feel ready, to ask for help,” Gaga says. “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.’”
The singer and actress also opened up to Winfrey about previous self-harming behaviours.
“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,” she recalls. “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. 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.”
The APA notes that researchers are looking into mindfulness and dialectical behaviour therapy as ways to help those struggling with self-harming behaviours. Winfrey also brings up this kind of therapy in the Elle interview. "I think that DBT is a wonderful, wonderful way to deal with mental health issues,” Gaga responds. (Selena Gomez has also publicly stated that DBT "changed her life.") DBT often consists of therapy once a week and skills training that encourages patients to manage their emotions and "build a life worth living," as Aleta Angelosante, PhD, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center, previously told Refinery29.
But, in the end, Gaga says a combination of medication and therapy helped her with battling her mental health struggles. She told Winfrey: "I once believed that there was no way back from my trauma. I really did. I was in physical, mental, and emotional pain. And medicine works, but you need medicine with the therapy for it to really work, because there’s a part that you have to do yourself."
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.