Lady Gaga’s mother has opened up about her daughter’s mental health struggles during childhood in the hopes of ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Cynthia Germanotta, more commonly known as ‘Mama Gaga’ appeared on American breakfast television show, CBS This Morning on Tuesday to talk about her daughter’s ‘uniqueness’.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out Lady Gaga stood out from the crowd at an early age.
However, the Goodwill Ambassador for mental health then opened-up to CBS This Morning hosts Gayle King, Anthony Mason and Tony Dokoupil about the ‘difficult time’ and the ridicule suffered by Lady Gaga, known to her mother as Stefani Germanotta, during her childhood and 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,” Germanotta said.
“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.”
Lady Gaga subsequently established herself as a queer ally, gay pop icon and mother of ‘monsters’, especially since since the release of her Born This Way album in 2011, which featured the chart-smashing lead-single of the same name.
Since then, Gaga has spoken openly about her struggles with mental illness, including her battles with PTSD, anxiety and depression. In a candid interview with CBS News in 2015, Gaga made clear that her battles with mental health are not only universal but are also perfectly natural.
“I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day,” said Gaga.
“I just want these kids to know that that depth that they feel as human beings is normal. We were born that way. This modern thing, where everyone is feeling shallow and less connected? That’s not human.”
Germanotta furthered her daughter’s sentiment on the importance of openness and compassion but noted that at the time, she was ill-equipped to help her daughter cope.
“When I was growing up, times were different. The way that we would deal with things is what I learned. That’s what I resorted to. You know, I relied on getting a grip. I relied on the generational grit of just sucking it up and getting on with it,” she said.
In 2011, Lady Gaga and Germanotta teamed up to create the Born This Way Foundation which aims to educate the public about mental and emotional care.
Germanotta’s most important message to parents looking to understand mental illness is: listen.
“I think as parents, our natural instinct is to go into problem-solving mode. When, in fact, you know, they really just want us to take them seriously and understand what they’re saying,” she said.
“We’ve learned from our research that young people often don’t turn to their parents because they feel – there’s fear of being judged. Also, we as parents, we don’t talk about our own struggles. I encourage parents to be vulnerable.
“Talk about your current or past struggles. So it really models healthy conversations and good behaviour. The biggest thing is to really talk to them. And it’s certainly okay to not be okay.”