Lady Gaga Talks PTSD: "I Suffer From a Mental Illness"

Singer explains how being raped at age 19 made her a kinder, more empathetic person

By Zach Johnson Dec 05, 2016 3:50 PMTags

Lady Gaga is paying it forward.

When the "Million Reasons" singer recently visited the Ali Forney Center, a shelter for homeless LGBT youth located in Harlem, she did so on behalf of the #ShareKindness campaign, Today and NBCUniversal's celebration of kind acts both big and small. "Kindness, to me, is an action of love or a showing of love to someone else," the pop singer said. "I also believe that kindness is the cure to violence and hatred around the world. I like to share kindness in a lot of different ways."

"I love to give things to people that have nothing or less than me. These children are not just homeless or in need. Many of them are trauma survivors; they've been rejected in some kind of way," she said. "My own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others."

Gaga, who revealed in 2014 that she had been raped at age 19, led a brief meditation exercise during her visit. "I don't have the same kind of issues that you have," she said, "but I have a mental illness and I struggle with that every day so I need my mantra to help keep me relaxed."

Until her visit, Gaga had never spoken publicly about living with posttraumatic stress disorder. "I told the kids today that I suffer from a mental illness. I suffer from PTSD. I've never told anyone that before, so here we are," the 30-year-old singer revealed. "But the kindness that's been shown to me by doctors—as well as my family and my friends—it's really saved my life."


Gaga didn't tell anyone she had been raped for seven years. In hindsight, the singer admitted, "I'd been searching for ways to heal myself. I found that kindness is the best way. The one way to help people that have trauma is to inject them with as many positive thoughts as possible."

In addition to donating clothing and other items to the homeless youth, Gaga gave them hugs and kisses. She also performed a few of her hits, as well as a cover of Nat King Cole's "Smile."

It's important for people to remind the homeless youth "that they're not alone and that they're loved," Gaga explained. "I am no better than any of those kids, and I'm no worse than any of them. We are equal. We both walk our two feet on the same earth and we're in this together. We as a world are suffering from war...Kindness is the way to becoming more harmonious..."

Today partnered with Gaga's Born This Way Foundation, which she co-founded with her mom, Cynthia Germanotta, for the Share Kindness Experience, located at 30 Rock in New York City. For those outside of the city, using the hashtag #ShareKindness on Twitter and Instagram, and sharing or commenting on a kind story from Today's Facebook, will also contribute to the goal.

"Those of us that have should give to those who have not during the holidays. Do one kind act before the end of the year. Just be kind," Gaga said. "The act itself, it's free—and it's priceless."

(E! and NBC are both members of the NBCUniversal family.)