Lady Gaga's Mom Talks About Helping Singer with Depression: 'We Tried Our Best as Parents'
Cynthia Germanotta says Lady Gaga felt "isolated" and "humiliated" during her time in middle school
Lady Gaga‘s mother is opening up about being a parent of someone who has struggled with mental illness.
Cynthia Germanotta spoke out about how she dealt with her daughter’s depression in Sunday’s episode of the Today show‘s digital series “Through Mom’s Eyes,” telling morning show co-host Shenielle Jones that Gaga — born Stefani Germanotta — dealt with severe bullying at school at a young age.
“In middle school, because she was unique, she started experiencing a lot of struggles,” Germanotta said. “You know, feeling isolated from events. Humiliated. Taunted. And she would start to question herself and become doubtful of her own abilities. And that’s when she developed depression.”
“We tried our best as parents to help her, but didn’t know everything,” Germanotta continued.
The matriarch said never knew the extent of her daughter’s depression because she wasn’t as informed about mental health as she is today.
“I felt where I made mistakes was I didn’t really know the warning signs to look for,” she admitted.
In 2012, Germanotta teamed up with Gaga to establish the Born This Way Foundation as a way to empower the next generation and help those with emotional and mental struggles.
“It’s something that’s very, very personal to us and it goes back to the struggles Stefani had growing up,” Germanotta explained of the organization. “She envisioned a world where young people were better equipped to deal with her struggles than she was.”
“As her career took off and we were traveling the world and talking to young people, we realized how many other young people had similar experiences,” the mom continued.
Though Germanotta admittedly didn’t understand why Gaga was being so open about her personal struggles at first, she eventually realized that the process was “very healing for her and also her fans.”
Gaga first opened up about her mental health in December 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 revealed that her 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.”
In 2018, the A Star Is Born actress used an awards acceptance to speak openly about her “debilitating mental spirals” that led her to seek professional help. According to Gaga, her mental health problems became more severe as her stardom rose and she developed a “list” of worrying symptoms by ignoring her well-being.
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“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.”
“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,” Gaga continued. “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.”
She added, “There were days I struggled or couldn’t make it to work, and I don’t want that for other artists, or for anyone.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.