Lady Gaga was born this way—and then some things got in the way.
The Oscar-winning triple threat has long been an impassioned mental health advocate and has spent years working to turn the subject into an inclusive public conversation partly by speaking of her personal challenges. As the star's mom, Cynthia Germanotta, recalled in a new interview on CBS This Morning, her famous daughter began to face her own mental health struggles just ahead of her teenage years.
"Stefani was very unique and that wasn't always appreciated by her peers and, as a result, she went through a lot of difficult times. Humiliated, taunted, isolated. When you're a young woman, this really severely impacts you," she explained. "It was in middle school when I saw that turn happen—when she went from a very happy and aspirational young girl to somebody that started to question her self-worth, to have doubts about herself and that is when we actually saw the turn."
Germanotta further noted why she was initially ill-equipped to address her daughter's problems.
"I believe that we, as both individuals and society, we don't treat [mental health] the same way that we treat physical health. So, certainly when it happened in our house, I didn't know what to look for. As a parent, I wasn't prepared to really address this," she said. "When I was growing up, times were different. The way that we would deal with things is what I learned, and that's what I resorted to...I relied on getting a grip. I relied on the generational grit of just sucking it up and getting on with it."
The Born This Way Foundation co-founder also highlighted the effect mental health challenges can have on families. "What I didn't realize is the profound impact that it can have. It basically turns the focus of everything onto that one individual and families feel conflicted about it, they don't really understand it, it causes conflict and a lot of stress within the families," she described. "It can also cause feelings, for me personally, feelings of guilt, of helplessness—not knowing how to help my daughter. So, what I really learned is that no family is immune from this and we should all really learn where we would go and who we would turn to if something like this happened in our families."
As a result of her experiences, Germanotta advised, "The most important thing that [parents] can do is really listen and understand. What I learned from my daughter is to listen and validate her feelings. I think as parents, our natural instinct is to go into problem-solving mode...when, in fact, they really just want us to take them seriously and understand what they're saying."
And, as much as children are being open, she urged moms and dads to do the same. "I encourage parents to be vulnerable. Talk about your current or past struggles, so it really models healthy conversations and good behavior. So, the biggest thing is to really talk to them and it's certainly ok to not be ok and start to have these conversations."