Lady Gaga and her mother's new book Channel Kindness was inspired by their own journey from trauma to understanding

By Julie Jordan and Melody Chiu
Updated September 22, 2020 12:41 PM
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When Lady Gaga was bullied and suffered from crippling depression in middle school, she didn't feel like she had anyone to turn to.

"I didn't know how to stand up for myself without feeling embarrassed," she tells PEOPLE exclusively. The superstar internalized her pain and kept her struggles hidden from loved ones — including her parents.

"There was a shame of sharing some of this with me. And I feel horrible about that," Gaga's mother, Cynthia Germanotta, tells PEOPLE. "I was raised differently, where you just have to be tough and not talk about your emotions. I didn't always understand the difference between normal biological teenage development and a real problem."

Gaga grew up to become a Grammy-winning pop singer, but it took years before she and Cynthia learned how to communicate openly.

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.

Cynthia Germanotta and Lady Gaga

The two women — who launched their foundation, Born This Way, in 2012 to help today's youth feel able to share their own moments of struggle — have since healed their relationship.

Now, they're hoping to help others find light with their new book, Channel Kindness.

"These are the things that create highways from heart to heart, where we can hold compassion and empathy, where we can celebrate everybody's resilience," says Gaga, 34, about the 51 stories from young people around the world included in the book.

"When I was younger and had mental issues, my mom didn't know how to communicate with me about it," she adds. "We've found a way to channel kindness into our lives in a way that's also healed our relationship."

The mother-daughter duo are proud of how far they've come since Gaga's younger years and have forged an unbreakable bond.

"[I treasure] how we've learned to be more open and honest with one another. She helped me do that," Cynthia says of her daughter. Adds Gaga: "I'm just really grateful that my mom holds space for me to be able to talk about how I feel. And because of that, we have a very healthy relationship that is beautiful."