Lady Gaga’s mom on trying to help Gaga’s childhood depression: we tried our best

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More celebrities have been opening up about living with depression and anxiety. Lady Gaga has spoken before about her depression and PTSD. She and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, created the Born This Way Foundation in 2012 to support people who share those experiences. Cynthia was on Sunday’s episode of the Today show‘s digital series “Through Mom’s Eyes,” and she spoke about trying to help her daughter as she struggled with depression while growing up:

“In middle school, because she was unique, she started experiencing a lot of struggles,” Germanotta said. “You know, feeling isolated from events. Humiliated. Taunted. And she would start to question herself and become doubtful of her own abilities. And that’s when she developed depression.”

“We tried our best as parents to help her, but didn’t know everything,” Germanotta continued.

The matriarch said never knew the extent of her daughter’s depression because she wasn’t as informed about mental health as she is today.

“I felt where I made mistakes was I didn’t really know the warning signs to look for,” she admitted. . . .

“[The foundation is] something that’s very, very personal to us and it goes back to the struggles Stefani had growing up,” Germanotta explained of the organization. “She envisioned a world where young people were better equipped to deal with her struggles than she was.”

“As her career took off and we were traveling the world and talking to young people, we realized how many other young people had similar experiences,” the mom continued.

Though Germanotta admittedly didn’t understand why Gaga was being so open about her personal struggles at first, she eventually realized that the process was “very healing for her and also her fans.”

[From People]

I feel like I’ve said some version of this numerous times already, but I’m always incredibly grateful when someone else speaks about living with mental illness. While we need to privilege those first-person accounts, it’s also important to hear from loved ones like Gaga’s mom. Her story of wanting to help her daughter and not being sure how to do that is something other parents and relatives in a similar position need to hear. It will (I hope) reassure them that they aren’t the only ones who may feel helpless in the face of a child’s pain. Maybe it will encourage them to reach out to others for help and also to ensure that, as much as possible, they have open lines of communication with their child who may also be struggling to tell them. Living with mental illness often makes it difficult to start the ball rolling on treatment (of whatever kinds), so having a knowledgeable parent or other adult around who actively wants to help is a huge gift. At the same time, too often, I see parents who don’t understand their children’s coping/healing mechanisms try to shut them down rather than encourage them. I’m so glad that Cynthia wanted to be there for Gaga, and that she eventually came to understand why Gaga was talking so openly about her struggles and that it was healing for her.

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19 Responses to “Lady Gaga’s mom on trying to help Gaga’s childhood depression: we tried our best”

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  1. Ka Sal says:

    It’s clear that lady Gaga struggles a lot with her mental health. I applaud her for speaking out.

  2. AmyB says:

    I am someone who was diagnosed with serious depression and anorexia at age 22. I am 51 now. While I recovered from my eating disorder through decades of intense therapy and an eventual stay in rehab, the depression has remained a constant battle – hospital stays, ECT treatment and many different medications. I am in a pretty good place with it now, at this stage in my life; I have a good therapist and found a good balance of medication to help balance the brain chemistry that is not working properly in my head – that is no fault of my own!!! And I applaud people like Lady Gaga, who use their platform to speak about mental illness, and raise awareness and try to erase the stigma attached to it!! I am glad to hear of Gaga’s mother speaking out as well – it was a difficult road for my parent’s too. Seeing me suffer and feeling powerless to do anything about it.

    • SomeChick says:

      I have a similar story (hi!) except that I’m a year or so older, and AFAIK my family had no idea that anything was even up with me. (To be fair, they all had their own stuff to deal with.)

      I’m so heartened by the shift in perception around mental health issues – it’s something that most people will have to deal with in life. Grief affects even the theoretically healthy among us.

      I’m still working on the eating stuff. Making progress feels really good. (Yummy, even.)

      Congrats and thanks for the inspiration!

      • AmyB says:

        @SomeChick Thank you xoxo!! Yes, progress can be very slow! And even after I got to a normal weight, it took me years still to become more “normal” about food and exercise and accepting of my body at a more normal weight. And even when I got to my 40s, I did gain some weight from my anti-depressants, which was super hard for me, given my history, and also the fact that I was always rather thin, an athlete growing up etc. But all those years in therapy, healing a lot of my childhood trauma, finding my own voice and loving myself, allowed me to stop obsessing in the mirror! I am certainly more curvy and voluptuous than I was when I was 20s/30s but I feel more confident now in my own skin!

        But yes – I applaud any kind of awareness and better understanding of mental health issues and I always support celebrities who can use their platform for those things!! So many people suffer in silence 🙁

  3. Char says:

    Me and my sister both experienced mental health struggles during our teenage years and my parents did the best to help according to their knowledge and experience. Parents aren’t super heroes, they don’t have all the answers and they also have their own problems. Gaga seems to have a very supporting and loving family and in the end, being loved and understood helps a lot.

  4. Nina says:

    This is such an important topic and one that hits so close to home for me. My daughter is 23 and experienced similar struggles starting when she was 7 or 8. It still brings me to tears to think about the principal of her elementary school telling me frankly she would do whatever I wanted about the bullying [recess was a game called “Let’s run away from ‘Susie’], but they knew nothing would really work. Bullying and mental health are inextricably linked – there is a chicken-egg thing that becomes a vicious circle. It’s nearly impossible to find good mental health care for children and schools are not typically good sources of information – I couldn’t even find out what kind of testing I should look for until she was an adolescent, and forget any kind of meaningful therapy. I have pushed this rock up a hill for two decades and I’m still doing it – as last year my brilliant sweet creative girl broke down in her boss’s office over a negative review and was put in a temporary psych hold – which FINALLY led to her getting into a good psychiatric practice with new meds and intensive therapy. I hope Gaga and her family are successful in raising awareness and money and helping find ways for kids who are different to be heard and respected. thanks for letting me vent, and damn you for making me cry before finishing my first coffee!

    • Lala11_7 says:

      @Nina….thank you for the wonderful gift of your post…I wish your and your Babygirl…peace..

      • Nina says:

        Thanks, Lala. I often think about what happens to the people who don’t have resources, time, education to figure this stuff out? I have all of that and still couldn’t get it done and some days still feel like I failed my kid. What about those poor children of parents who literally don’t believe in mental illness – I actually know some. Heartbreaking.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        “I often think about what happens to the people who don’t have resources, time, education to figure this stuff out?”

        Or even decent people as parents. Ridgid, aloof and narcissistic adults can wave off their children with such disgusting disdain. My normal state is depression, but that happened mostly as an adult after a family tragedy. The PTSD chemically altered my brain or something lol like forever. But anyway, having three sons who are emotional, loving and kind, and who also acquired their parents’ capacity for depression, I’ve always been able to “walk with them,” so to speak and help them understand there’s nothing and none to blame but a puzzle we get to put together every day and consciously shut down negative inner dialogues which we all know is a bitch lol. Can you imagine how many ignorant asshats are out there with children? Children who need navigation help? It’s scary and sad. It’s nice to hear a celebrity’s mom being honest about something that used to be taboo.

    • Rosie says:

      Oh Nina. Big love to you and your daughter. You sound like an incredible advocate for her. I had my own struggles since childhood, but now I have an autistic teen with severe depression and self-harming and she just came out of two inpatient stays in the psych hospital. Big kudos to Gaga and her mom for speaking out. This experience has changed me and I’ll now talk about what we’re going through at the drop of a hat just because you change lives by removing the stigma and spreading awareness.

      • Nina says:

        @Rosie I am so sorry! I know exactly how you feel, you’re not alone. Big love back to you! My daughter considers herself on the spectrum now but nobody was talking about that 10 years go. She found her “tribe” online with a group of girls who started writing fanfic together when they were like 10, and the four of them are still close and she’s traveling to Japan [alone! ack!] next month to visit one of them. I hope your daughter finds some relief and her own tribe, and never doubt you are her rock.

      • Dee Kay says:

        Rosie and Nina, thank you for your stories. I agree that talking about mental health issues reduces stigma and encourages people around us to reach out and find help in any format. Nina, I LOVE that your daughter found an online fanfic community and is now going to visit one of them. What an inspiring story!!!

      • Christina says:

        Nina and Rosie, and all of the ladies who started the string about their struggles with Anorexia, thank you for sharing. You are inspirational, and I wish you all confort. You help others when you talk about it. I have in these threads before, and I appreciate those who do, because there is so much shame surrounding mental health that only stops people from seeking help.

  5. Whatever Gurl says:

    Didn’t she attend an all-girls private Catholic high school? Talk about dysfunctional, toxic environments.

    My parents thought they were giving me the best education as I attended a similar school and it was all a Mean Girls, cliquey, Waspy stew.

    • stormsmama says:

      just here to mention that catholic and wasp are by their very nature not the same.
      I point this out bc I know that catholic school has the built in “bonus” of preaching what boils down to anti women agenda so there is no room to be a thoughtful inquisitive unique girl blossoming into womanhood in catholicism.

      (I went to catholic school until 5th grade then left to a public school. My parents are still practicing catholics though i dropped out of church after getting confirmed in 8th grade.I became a recovering catholic.)

  6. Speaking out is so important and I applaud Lady Gaga and her mom for sharing. I think the website will make a big difference for young people searching for an understanding of what it is they may be dealing with inside their heads. Depression ain’t for sissies. It’s a hard nut to crack.

  7. Northern_Girl 20 says:

    Speaking out is so important, and I love that they are doing this. I suffered from depression when I was a teen and young adult (well I still do) and there was no one to talk to back then. My parents didn’t know and when they found out they didn’t know what to do. Now I am dealing with my youngest (he just turned 12) feeling depressed and cutting himself. I’m so lost and broken but we are getting him help, this just happened like 2 days ago – we had no idea, a kid in his class overheard him talking about it and his principal called me to let me know. I will do whatever I can to help him. I’m just so sad that my sweet little boy is going through this.

  8. BellaBella says:

    Just adding a superficial comment that Gaga’s mom is beautiful! Her whole family is so striking. And props to them for keeping a conversation about mental illness in the realm of normal life.