The A Star Is Born actress, 32, was honored Thursday night at the SAG-AFTRA Patron of the Artists Award fundraiser, and used her acceptance speech to speak openly about her “debilitating mental spirals” that led her to seek help.
Gaga said her mental health problems became more severe as her star rose.
“After years and years of saying yes to jobs, interviews, events — all opportunities, of course that I am so humbled and grateful to have had, because I know that there are so many who have not — and after working as hard as I possibly could to achieve my dreams, slowly but surely the word yes — ‘Yes, sure’ — became too automatic and my inner voice shutdown, which I have learned now is very unhealthy,” she said. “I was not empowered to say no.”
The singer said that it felt like she would “blackout for seconds or minutes” as her brain pushed off things she had to do, and she would “see flashes of things I was tormented by.”
She developed a “list” of worrying symptoms.
“There were also symptoms, symptoms of dissociation and PTSD, and I did not have a team that included mental health support,” she said. “This later morphed into physical chronic pain, fibromyalgia, panic attacks, acute trauma responses, and debilitating mental spirals that have included the suicidal ideation and masochistic behavior. Okay. I’m done with my list, but that list changed my life. And it changed my life not in a good way.”
Gaga said that her mental health struggles were left for too long.
“I’m telling you this because for me it was too late,” she said. “I needed help earlier. I needed mental health care. I needed someone to see not through me or see the star that I’d become but rather see the darkness inside that I was struggling with.”
With her health now manageable, she wants to use her experience to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
“I wish I had mental health resources then because although what I have is treatable and can hopefully and will get better over time, if there was preventative mental healthcare accessible to me earlier, I believe it might not have gotten as bad as it did,” she said. “I wish there had been a system in place to protect and guide me. A system in place to empower me to say no to things I felt I had to do. A system in place to empower me to stay away from toxic working environments or working with people that were of seriously questionable character.”
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“There were days I struggled or couldn’t make it to work, and I don’t want that for other artists, or for anyone, so what I’m really trying to say it is I wish that I had you when I was 19,” she continued. “Not only because I wished I had a SAG card, but that I also would have a mental health program within the industry that could have prevented some of the trauma that I experienced.”
Gaga first opened up about her mental health in Dec. 2016, when she revealed her battle with PTSD during a visit with a group of homeless LGBTQ teens in New York.
“I told the kids today, ‘I suffer from PTSD.’ I’ve never told anyone that before. So here we are,” she said at the time. “But the kindness that’s shown to me by doctors as well as my family, and my friends, it’s really saved my life.”
And two years later, in September, she said the PTSD stems from a sexual assault she suffered at age 19.
“No one else knew. It was almost like I tried to erase it from my brain. And when it finally came out, it was like a big, ugly monster. And you have to face the monster to heal,” she told Vogue. “For me, with my mental health issues, half of the battle in the beginning was, I felt like I was lying to the world because I was feeling so much pain but nobody knew,” she said. “So that’s why I came out and said that I have PTSD, because I don’t want to hide—any more than I already have to.”