After Lady Gaga revealed that she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder earlier this week, the pop star has penned a letter discussing her daily struggle 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,” she writes in the 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.”
Gaga’s first opened up about her disorder while visiting a the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth in Harlem, N.Y. with a Today show segment that aired Friday. In her letter, she elaborated on how the debilitating mental illness affects her everyday life and what she has done to address it.
She said she struggles with triggers from her past years on tour when her “needs and requests for balance were being ignored.” This resulted in an injury on the Born This Way Ball tour, which ingrained a trauma of performing in mental and physical pain that she relives when she is reminded of that time in her life.
There are also symptoms of dissociation, she wrote, “which means that my mind doesn’t want to relive the pain so ‘I look off and I stare’ in a glazed over state.” Citing her doctors, she continued, “Pre-frontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls logical, orderly thought) is overridden by the amygdala (which stores emotional memory) and sends me into a fight or flight response. My body is in one place and my mind in another. It’s like the panic accelerator in my mind gets stuck and I am paralyzed with fear.”
As a result of this, she described being unable to talk or will feel depressed and unable to function regularly.
“It’s harder to do my job. It’s harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder,” she said. “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.”
But Gaga said she is facing her problem, thanks to the support system that surrounds her. And she encourages others to do the same. She pledged to help raise awareness of how this mental illness affects people all all ages, while supporting youth and America’s servicemen and women alike who suffer from the condition.
“I am doing various modalities of psychotherapy and am on medicine prescribed by my psychiatrist. However, I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words,” she said. “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. I am starting today, because secrets keep you sick. And I don’t want to keep this secret anymore.”
Read the full letter here.