On Monday, the 30-year-old singer revealed that she has PTSD when she paid a visit to the Ali Forney Center -- a shelter for homeless LGBT youth in New York's Harlem neighborhood -- and in an open letter on her Born This Way Foundation website, she describes what it's like living with the condition.
"It is a daily effort for me, even during this album cycle, to regulate my nervous system so that I don’t panic over circumstances that to many would seem like normal life situations," Gaga writes, referring to promoting her latest album, Joanne. "Examples are leaving the house or being touched by strangers who simply want to share their enthusiasm for my music."
"I also struggle with triggers from the memories I carry from my feelings of past years on tour when my needs and requests for balance were being ignored," she shares. "I was overworked and not taken seriously when I shared my pain and concern that something was wrong. I ultimately ended up injured on the Born This Way Ball. That moment and the memory of it has changed my life forever. The experience of performing night after night in mental and physical pain ingrained in me a trauma that I relive when I see or hear things that remind me of those days."
Symptoms of Gaga's PTSD include her sometimes looking off and staring "in a glazed over state" when her mind doesn't want to relive the pain, and sometimes being "paralyzed with fear."
"When this happens I can’t talk," she says. "When this happens repeatedly, it makes me have a common PTSD reaction which is that I feel depressed and unable to function like I used to. It’s harder to do my job. It’s harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder. Additionally, when I am unable to regulate my anxiety, it can result in somatization, which is pain in the body caused by an inability to express my emotional pain in words."
The "Perfect Illusion" singer says she now takes medicine prescribed to her by a psychiatrist, and practices various modalities of psychotherapy.
"However, I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words," Gaga adds. "Kind words…positive words…words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free."
"This is how I and we can begin to heal," she continues. "I am starting today, because secrets keep you sick. And I don’t want to keep this secret anymore."