Since the beginning of her career, Lady Gaga has been baring her soul. She has been outspoken about her physical and mental health issues, including the trauma of surviving sexual assault, and her empowering tracks like “Born This Way” have inspired so many to find their inner strength. Now, in a powerful new interview with Oprah Winfrey for Elle, the superstar opened up about something she hasn’t before: her history with self-harm.
“I have PTSD. I have chronic pain. Neuropathic pain trauma response is a weekly part of my life,” Gaga said after Winfrey brought up the assaults she experienced as a teen. “I’m on medication. I have several doctors. This is how I survive.”
Gaga previously talked about a teenage sexual assault that left her with “debilitating mental spirals that have included suicidal ideation and masochistic behavior.” In this new interview, she went onto reveal that she used to harm herself, and explained that she kept it a secret for so long because of the impact it may have on fans.
“I’ve actually not opened up very much about this, but I think it’s an important thing for people to know and hear,” she said.“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.”
But, as the Gaga continued, she found the strength and support needed to heal. “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.”
The singer also clarified that she’s not here to glorify self-harm or mental illness. “I say that with a lot of humility and strength,” Gaga continued. “I’m very grateful that I don’t do it anymore, and I wish to not glamorize it.”
Because when it comes to mental health, Gaga isn’t just all talk. She actively provides sources to struggling youth through the Born This Way Foundation, which she launched in 2011. “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,” she told Oprah.
Now, with an Oscar win in her pocket, a beauty company, and a sixth album on the way, Lady Gaga is stronger than ever. And she credits a lot of this success to therapy. “I once believed that there was no way back from my trauma,” she said. “I really did. I was in physical, mental, and emotional pain. 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.”
Her advice for others: “I would also beckon to anyone to try, when they feel ready, to ask for help.”