How did Lady Gaga become an icon of more than just pop music?
Tell me somethin’, girl
Are you happy in this modern world?*The stigma put on people with mental disorders and anxiety does not only affect the poor and the lonely, but also extremely successful music stars. Lady Gaga, or Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta began her adventure with music at the age of 4, when, at the age of 13, she composed her first song. With every year she polished her musical skills and gained huge popularity after releasing “The Fame” album with the ultimate hit “Poker Face”. Witnessing a series of artist’s successes from the side, it is difficult to realize that she may face many problems, especially such as Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
PTSDThe disorder develops as a reaction to a traumatic event that a person was/is exposed to and cannot cope with it using the available resources. Stressors can vary — from war experiences, through natural disasters, rape, death of a loved one, to a diagnosis of a serious illness. The victim feels helpless, tired, constant tension, isolates themselves from society and avoids all stimuli that can remind them of THAT event. The gloom is paralyzing, blocks all positive emotions, sleep anomalies and nightmares that bring back the worst memories appear.
A person suffering from PTSD represses the event for a long time, refuses to think that it actually happened. Any confrontation with the truth causes a sudden and painful comeback of memories.
Lady Gaga struggled for a long time before she began to voice her experiences. As a 19-year-old she was raped by a man, 20 years her elder. As she remarks herself, she was very naive back then thinking that this is what grown-up life looked like. She felt immense pain the following months and years, yet, only after a long time did she discover that its source was the rape.
Depression and anxiety.Many years of depression, chronic pain and anxiety affected the life and work of the star. Now she knows that it’s impossible to forget about a trauma and the only way to restore stability and find peace is to confront it.
In PTSD, daily functions are disrupted, and periodic bouts of anxiety may lead to suicidal thoughts. The problem of self-destructive thoughts and behavior is growing among youth. Suicide is the second leading cause of death worldwide in the 15-29 age group.
“By the time you finish reading this, at least six people will have killed themselves around the world.” wrote Lady Gaga along with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyes, Director-General of WHO, October 2018 at the beginning of their article published in The Guardian. Why so few funds from state budgets go to psychiatric help, especially among young people?
PTSD can be dealt with.The step that takes the greatest courage to make after a traumatic event is to say it happened out loud and ask for help.
The singer and actress honestly admitted that she was able to cope with the trauma thanks to immense support of loved ones and loyal fans. It was family and friends who noticed the problem and then supported Lady Gaga in restoring psychological balance. If not for them, doctors, therapists and medication, it would have not been possible.
Knowing that not every person that experienced a trauma knows who to turn to, and the resources of young people may be scarce, along with her mom, the singer founded the charity Born This Way, which is dedicated to helping people affected by mental disorders. In a very personal confession of a star, published on the foundation’s website, she speaks of her trauma coming back like a boomerang, long struggle to regain strength and how important it is to have support and professional help.
Til it happens to you.That’s the title of a song written by Lady Gaga and dedicated to people who were the victims of sexual assault. The violent scenes of the video show only a bit of what could happen to anyone. The lyrics make it explicit that it’s impossible to comprehend the tragedy of rape, not having experienced it.
You tell me it gets better
It gets better in time
You say I’ll pull myself together
Pull it together
You’ll be fine
Tell me what the hell do you know
What do you know
In many social groups, victims still hide events such as rape out of fear of injustice and stigmatization. Education already taking place in schools is the solution. So that the young people know how to defend themselves from various types of trauma and if they occur, that they seek help from institutions prepared to give it. Once mental disorders stop being a reason of shame swept under the carpet, people causing them will stop feeling untouchable.
Many factors that cause PTSD cannot be avoided despite sex education and mental health care. Lady Gaga and the members of the Born this Way Foundation try to support young people in such a way that they become stronger and stronger and they have enough resources to cope with the experiences and misfortunes that may come their way.
* An excerpt of the song “Shallow” from “The Star is born” with the leading role of Lady Gaga.
The article is based on a personal confession that Lady Gaga posted on the website of the Born This Way Foundation: https://bornthisway Hm.foundation/personal-letter-Gaga/
The cited article from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/09/lady-gaga-mental-health-global-emergency-suicide
WHO data on suicide: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/suicide