Lady Gaga Calls Psychotic Break One of the "Worst Things That's Ever Happened" to Her

Lady Gaga opened up about cutting herself in a new interview with Oprah Winfrey.

By Samantha Schnurr Nov 06, 2019 2:46 PMTags
Lady Gaga, Elle, December 2019Sølve Sundsbø

Lady Gaga wants you to reach out to those you see suffering. 

The Oscar-winning triple threat has long been publicly open about her mental health struggles and the trauma she has suffered over the years, but in a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey for Elle, the star has newly shared a part of her history previously kept private. 

While discussing the rapes she suffered as a teenager and the various trauma she has carried through her career, Gaga told Winfrey, "I have PTSD. I have chronic pain. Neuropathic pain trauma response is a weekly part of my life. I'm on medication; I have several doctors. This is how I survive."

However, "I kept going," the star continued, "and that kid out there or even that adult out there who's been through so much, I want them to know that they can keep going, and they can survive, and they can win their Oscar. I would also beckon to anyone to try, when they feel ready, to ask for help. And I would beckon to others that if they see someone suffering, to approach them and say, 'Hey, I see you. I see that you're suffering, and I'm here. Tell me your story.'"

In response, Winfrey brought up Avatar's message of "I see you," which prompted Gaga to share her history with cutting. 

Lady Gaga's First Interview With E! in 2008

"I've actually not opened up very much about this, but I think it's an important thing for people to know and hear: I was a cutter for a long time, and the only way that I was able to stop cutting and self-harming myself was to realize that what I was doing was trying to show people that I was in pain instead of telling them and asking for help," she explained to Winfrey. "When I realized that telling someone, 'Hey, I am having an urge to hurt myself,' that defused it. I then had someone next to me saying, 'You don't have to show me. Just tell me: What are you feeling right now?' And then I could just tell my story." 

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The songstress noted, "I say that with a lot of humility and strength; I'm very grateful that I don't do it anymore, and I wish to not glamorize it. One thing that I would suggest to people who struggle with trauma response or self-harm issues or suicidal ideation is actually ice. If you put your hands in a bowl of ice-cold water, it shocks the nervous system, and it brings you back to reality."

In addition to self-harm, Gaga also recalled experiencing a psychotic break, which she considers "one of the worst things that's ever happened" to her. 

"Although there are many different theories about fibromyalgia—for me, my fibromyalgia and my trauma response kind of go hand in hand. The fibro for me is a lighter pain; the trauma response is much heavier and actually feels the way I felt after I was dropped on a street corner after I'd been raped repeatedly for months. It's a recurring feeling. So I had a psychotic break at one point, and it was one of the worst things that's ever happened to me. I was brought to the ER to urgent care and they brought in the doctor, a psychiatrist," she told Winfrey in the Elle interview. "So I'm just screaming, and I said, 'Could somebody bring me a real doctor?' And I didn't understand what was going on, because my whole body went numb; I fully dissociated. I was screaming, and then he calmed me down and gave me medication for when that happens." Gaga credited the doctor and her friends with saving her life. 

Fortunately now, her trauma no longer seems insurmountable. "I once believed that there was no way back from my trauma. I really did. I was in physical, mental, and emotional pain," Gaga told Winfrey. "And medicine works, but you need medicine with the therapy for it to really work, because there's a part that you have to do yourself."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).