Featured on the cover of Billboard magazine’s “We Can Be Heroes” issue with friend and philanthropy ally Elton John, Lady Gaga opens up about her struggles with depression and anxiety, and how coping has inspired her to launch the Born This Way Foundation and support young people.
Aside from all the press she’s garnered from her phenomenal role on American Horror Story: Hotel, the pop star also made headlines recently for her video on sexual assault awareness for her new single “Til It Happens to You.” Having personally experienced sexual assault when she was 19, Gaga drew upon her own painful experience in co-writing the song with Diane Warren.
She commented to Billboard, “We don’t have to be victims. If we share our stories and stick together, we’re stronger.”
Recording “Til It Happens to You” was incredibly hard for Gaga and she broke down crying while singing all the vocals. On what her personal stakes were, she explained:
Never higher. It’s hard to listen to that song, it’s hard to watch it. Diane really held my hand. I was like, “I’ve done a lot of things Diane, but can I do this?” She was like, “You can do this.” It was extremely cathartic to know that not only am I not alone, but that other men and women aren’t alone — we all have each other. Even outside of rape culture, there are a lot of people silently in pain about extremely traumatic things.
The hardest part for me was the self-acceptance. There’s an inability to acknowledge to yourself, “Not only did this happen, but I’m pretty f—ed up about it.” And nobody knows how you feel. I didn’t tell anyone [about my sexual assault] for years — and I didn’t tell anyone for years because I didn’t tell myself for years. And my soul just burnt out until it was gone. And then you have to admit you were in pain, and that you died in a way, but you are in control to bring it back, and there are people in the world who’ll help you.
And as a ray of light for her little Monsters, philanthropy is an important part of Mother monster’s being. She launched her incredible foundation back in 2012, and calls it her “life purpose.”
“This is why I was brought to life, I think,” she commented.
Gaga confessed to the magazine, “I’ve suffered through depression and anxiety my entire life, I still suffer with it every single day. 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.”
When asked why she created the Born This Way Foundation, she explained:
This foundation was born from the years I spent watching my fans grow up. Many of them were really young: 11- to 17-year-olds in very tumultuous times. They would tell me their stories — and many of them were very dark. As I began to care for them and to see myself in them, I felt I had to do something that would remind kids they’re not alone. When they feel isolated, that’s when it leads to suicide.
Furthermore, she explained why it was her mission to support her fans:
These kids just want to feel human, but they feel like robots. They don’t understand why they’re so sad. There are scientific reasons, which the foundation researches, why you feel sad when you look at your phone all day. 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.
Gaga touched upon how our society is rooted in technology and how our eyes are focused on our phones, which leads to an unnatural disconnect with the world around us:
There is something in the way that we are now, with our cell phones and people are not looking at each other and not being in the moment with each other, that kids feel isolated. They read all of this extremely hateful language on the Internet. The internet is a toilet. It is. It used to be a fantastic resource — but you have to sort through shit to find the good stuff.
We agree, the Internet is a toilet.
With her Foundation, Gaga is most proud seeing “the friendships these kids have built,” and added, “When I see a child with an eating disorder sit down with somebody who has a lifelong terminal illness and somebody who’s in transition — that makes me feel like we’re doing something no one else is. This is my life purpose, this foundation.”
The Countess is best known for her eccentric fashion statements in the past, and Billboard comments that her “persona has recently become more traditional,” going on to ask how she can be “a voice for outsiders” when she looks so….”Glamorous?” Gaga adds with a laugh. She explained what she was going through when she opted for those wildly different but amazing ensembles:
There’s always a dichotomy within me. If you see me dressing really out there, I tend to be self-deprecating inside. When I dress like a lady, I tend to be feeling very wild and confident. That sounds bizarre, but I get a lot of shit done with that blond hair. I haven’t changed. It’s just that I’m almost 30. I’m learning how to function effectively in society.
People expect me to show up doing something wild. The thing is, I’ll do what I want when I want to do it. Right now, I want to help young kids come together and be friends. If I need to get the president’s attention — whatever I have to do — I’ll do it.
The Born This Way Foundation will soon be collaborating with the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Gaga opened up about their relationship:
He inspires me in ways I could not even begin to list properly. He is my friend, he is like a parent. He looks out for me, he was there for me during the hardest times in my life. He doesn’t allow me to slip into depression without making sure that I’m OK. Everything he has done for AIDS, everything he has done for the LGBT community. He’s just everything — when I’m with him, I just want to help be a part of his genius plan to save the world.