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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.”
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.