10 Lady Gaga Mental Health Quotes That Helped Break Stigma
While a decade ago Lady Gaga was best known for wearing a meat dress and arriving at the Grammy Awards in a giant egg-shaped contraption, these days she's also lauded for her relentless pursuit of mental health equality. In fact, Lady Gaga's quotes about mental health are so relevant they will inspire you to join her in the effort to break the stigma. It's no secret that Gaga has always been strategic and intentional about making cultural and political statements with her music — few will forget her artistic commentary on the damaging effects of fame from her performance of the song "Paparazzi" at the 2009 Video Music Awards.
However, the addition of her brutal honesty about her own mental health struggles — she revealed at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation's third annual Patron of the Artists Awards that she has battled PTSD and "debilitating mental spirals that have included suicidal ideation and masochistic behavior" — has sparked an important mental health dialogue. What's more, Gaga is using every opportunity, including acceptance speeches, natural disasters, press events for her movie A Star Is Born, and more to speak out about the importance of bringing mental illness out of the shadows and into everyday conversations.
For those of us living with mental illness, her efforts provide proof that no one is alone in this fight. If you're not in the know about what a badass mental-health hero she is, here are some of Gaga's most inspiring quotes about mental health.
1. "Please do not discount your mental health during this time. It is so important that you take care of what is in your head and in your heart."
Gaga visited a Red Cross shelter for fellow Woolsey Fire evacuees (she was forced to evacuate her Mailbu, Calif., home Nov. 9) on Nov. 11 to discuss the importance of taking care of mental health during the fire that forced 250,000 people to flee their homes, including the entire city of Malibu. She also brought food and supplies, including pizza, coffee and gift cards, to another shelter on World Kindness Day Nov. 13.
2. "We need to share our stories so that global mental health no longer resides and festers in the darkness."
The evening before she was forced to evacuate her home due to the Woolsey Fire, Gaga gave a rousing 23-minute speech at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation where she accepted an award for kindness. She, for the first time publicly, spoke in depth about the exact nature of her mental health struggles. She also said her goal is to create a world where everyone has access to mental health care by 2030.
3. "We can no longer afford to be silenced by stigma or stymied by misguided ideas that portray these conditions as a matter of weakness or moral failing."
In an op-ed for The Guardian, Gaga put forth a call to action to destigmatize mental illness and make mental health a global priority. "Research shows there is a fourfold return on investment for every dollar spent on treating depression and anxiety, the most common mental health conditions, making spending on the issue a great investment for both political leaders and employers, in addition to generating savings in the health sector," she wrote.
4. "We are equal. We both walk our two feet on the same earth. And we’re in this together."
In 2016, Gaga visited the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth in New York City, as documented by the TODAY show. She shared her personal experiences, including being a rape survivor and living with PTSD.
5. "I’m here because … I see a lot of people who have secrets that are killing them. We don’t want you to keep your pain inside and let it rot like an old apple on your counter, you know? It’s like, just get rid of all that trash. Let’s get rid of it together."
During a 2015 panel discussion for the TimesTalks video series for the documentary The Hunting Ground, Lady Gaga spoke about the importance of sharing trauma and pain with others in order to begin healing.
6. "I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words. Kind words … positive words … words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free."
In December of 2016, Gaga penned an open letter to fans on the Born This Way Foundation, which she founded with her mom to empower youth and inspire bravery. Leading by example, she disclosed that she lives with a mental illness and that she takes medication, two difficult things for people with mental illnesses to disclose to others. "This [disclosure] 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," she wrote.
7. "There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness ... this is a part of me and that's OK."
In a 2017 conversation about mental health awareness with Prince William, Gaga revealed how polarizing it is to feel lucky to have achieved her dreams while simultaneously experiencing so much depression and anxiety that she had difficulty getting out of bed. She noted that accepting that mental illness is a part of you, and it's OK, is an important to step toward asking for help. "The best thing that could come out of my mental illness was to share it."
8. "Depression doesn't take away your talents — it just makes them harder to find. But I always find it. I learned that my sadness never destroyed what was great about me. You just have to go back to that greatness, find that one little light that's left."
One thing I try to remember when I'm hit with a wave of depression is that when you're in a tunnel, there is light on both sides, even if you can't see it. Gaga's quote from a 2014 interview with Harper's Bazaar is, for me, this image personified.
9. "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."
One of the most important things Gaga has done is help dispel the myth that things — money, fame, success — can prevent or cure mental illness. They can't. In a 2015 story in Billboard, Gaga destigmatizes depression and anxiety by making it clear that it can happen to anyone, and there is no shame in having a mental illness.
10. "You use your platforms and voices to both raise awareness and enforce change and be change, and I feel deeply that there is nothing more respectable one with such a platform can do."
This is another one from Gaga's SAG-AFTRA Foundation speech. It's directed toward those in attendance who have a platform to make a difference, and it's a perfect companion to my favorite quote from Bradley Cooper's character Jackson Maine to Ally (Gaga) in A Star Is Born.
"All you got is you and what you have to say to people and they are listening right now and they are not going to be listening forever. Trust me. So you gotta grab it and you don't apologize or worry about why they're listening or how long they're gonna be listening for. You just tell them what you want to say." This is exactly what Gaga is committed to doing every single day, and I couldn't be more grateful for her honesty, her candor, and her bravery.