Lady Gaga Further Details PTSD In New Open Letter
Days after revealing she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder during a segment on Today, Lady Gaga wrote an open, honest letter to her fans further detailing her struggles with her mental health.
In it, the "Perfect Illusion" singer says she struggled for quite some time about whether or not to reveal her diagnosis to the public, but she ultimately decided on transparency in an attempt to help de-stigmatize mental illness.
"There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it’s important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery," Gaga wrote in the letter posted to the official Born This Way Foundation site.
"It is a daily effort for me, even during this album cycle, to regulate my nervous system so that I don’t panic over circumstances that to many would seem like normal life situations," she continued. "Examples are leaving the house or being touched by strangers who simply want to share their enthusiasm for my music."
The "Million Reasons" singer also touched on an injury she suffered during her 2012 tour, the Born This Way Ball. She says her "needs and requests for balance were being ignored” at the time, and her injury altered her life forever.
"The experience of performing night after night in mental and physical pain ingrained in me a trauma that I relive when I see or hear things that remind me of those days," she wrote, before also explaining she suffers from dissociation:
I also experience something called dissociation which means that my mind doesn’t want to relive the pain so 'I look off and I stare' in a glazed over state. As my doctors have taught me, I cannot express my feelings because my pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls logical, orderly thought) is overridden by the amygdala (which stores emotional memory) and sends me into a fight or flight response. My body is in one place and my mind in another. It’s like the panic accelerator in my mind gets stuck and I am paralyzed with fear.
When this happens I can’t talk. When this happens repeatedly, it makes me have a common PTSD reaction which is that I feel depressed and unable to function like I used to. It’s harder to do my job. It’s harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder. Additionally, when I am unable to regulate my anxiety, it can result in somatization, which is pain in the body caused by an inability to express my emotional pain in words.
But, Gaga maintains, support from her family and friends — as well as care from medical professionals -- has helped her immeasurably, and she intends on furthering her aim to lift the taboo surrounding mental illness.
"I seek to raise awareness that this mental illness affects all kinds of people, including our youth," she wrote. "I pledge not only to help our youth not feel ashamed of their own conditions, but also to lend support to those servicemen and women who suffer from PTSD."
Finally, Gaga encourages others to exhibit more kindness and empathy in their daily lives.
"I am doing various modalities of psychotherapy and am on medicine prescribed by my psychiatrist. However, I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words," she continued. "Kind words…positive words…words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free. This is how I and we can begin to heal. I am starting today, because secrets keep you sick. And I don’t want to keep this secret anymore."
Head over to the Born This Way Foundation site to read Gaga's full letter.
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