Lady Gaga‘s mother, Cynthia Germanotta, spoke to the Today Show‘s web series “Through Mom’s Eyes” on Sunday about her famous daughter’s early struggles with depression, describing how severe bullying in middle school led to young Stefani Germanotta’s battles with mental illness.
“In middle school, because she was unique, she started experiencing a lot of struggles,” said Germanotta, who, along with her daughter, launched the Born This Way Foundation in 2012 to support the mental and emotional wellness of young people. “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.”
Germanotta said she and Gaga’s father, Joe, tried their best as parents to help, “but [we] didn’t know everything.” Because she wasn’t as well-informed about mental health as she is now, Cynthia Germanotta said she didn’t realize the depths of Gaga’s childhood depression. “I felt where I made mistakes was I didn’t really know the warning signs to look for,” she said in the interview that took place in the family’s New York restaurant, Joanne Trattoria.
“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,” Germanotta said, noting that the subject of mental health is very important to both of them and is the reason Gaga wanted to launch an organization that would help young people be “better equipped to deal with her struggles than she was.”
Oscar-winner Gaga has spoken about her mental health battles in the past, including revealing in 2016 that she has suffered from PTSD, and then in 2018 telling Vogue that it was a result of a sexual assault at 19. “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,” she wrote in a letter posted to her Born This Way Foundation website. “Examples are leaving the house or being touched by strangers who simply want to share their enthusiasm for my music.”
Watch Cynthia Germanotta’s Today Show interview below.