The pop star reveals how depression inspired her acclaimed new album Chromatica

By Julie Jordan and Jeff Nelson
Updated September 22, 2020 12:40 PM
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Lady Gaga is opening up about how her depression informed her new album.

This summer the pop star released her acclaimed sixth studio album, Chromatica, which addresses weighty issues, including mental illness and trauma recovery, over dance beats.

Speaking to PEOPLE along with her mom, Cynthia Germanotta, about their new book, Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness and Community (which features 51 stories from young people around the world), Gaga, 34, acknowledged she used music to help bring her out of a dark place in her life. An overarching theme of Chromatica is finding light out of darkness, which she sings about on her smash Ariana Grande collab "Rain on Me" and album standout "Free Woman."

"I used to wake up in the morning, and I would realize I was 'Lady Gaga.' And then I became very depressed and sad, and I didn't want to be myself," she says. "I felt threatened by the things my career brought into my life and the pace of my life."

Watch the full episode of People Features: Lady Gaga & Cynthia Germanotta: How We Healed Our Relationship streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.

Indeed, the Grammy winner has been candid about how, for years, she focused on her music rather than work through the emotional and physical trauma she suffered after a sexual assault early on in her career. And she has said that before getting to work on Chromatica, she was struggling with PTSD and fibromyalgia.

"I spent a lot of time in a sort of catatonic state of just not wanting to do anything," Gaga says. "And then I finally, slowly started to make music and tell my story through my record."

Lady Gaga
Kevin Winter/MTV VMAs 2020/Getty

Through her Born this Way foundation, which she created with her mom in 2012, along with their new book, Gaga hopes to "create highways from heart to heart," she says. "Where we can hold compassion and empathy, where we can celebrate everybody's resilience.".