Lady Gaga is one of the biggest superstars on the planet — but says her fame left her feeling “exhausted and used up,” paving the way for suicidal thoughts.
“I just totally gave up on myself,” Gaga (real name: Stefani Germanotta) tells CBS Sunday Morning in a frank new interview. “I hated being famous. I hated being a star. I felt exhausted and used up.”
The Oscar winner, who also recently opened up to Billboard about her mental health, says she began to resent her pop star identity and public profile.
“This is the piano I’ve had for so many years. I’ve written so many songs on this piano,” she tells CBS’s Lee Cowan in the interview. “I don’t know how to explain it. But I went from looking at this piano, and thinking, ‘You ruined my life.’ During that time, I was like, ‘You made me Lady Gaga. My biggest enemy is Lady Gaga.’
“That’s what I was thinking: ‘My biggest enemy is her. What did you do? You can’t go to the grocery store now. If you go to dinner with your family, somebody comes to the table, you can’t have a dinner with your family without it being about you. It’s always about you. All the time it’s about you. And your outfits. Look at your outfits!’
“‘Why you gotta be like that?’” she’d ask her piano.
Lady Gaga says she “hated being famous” and had thoughts of suicide. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Though the last few years have seen her headline the Super Bowl Halftime Show, win an Oscar for Best Song and receive another nomination for Best Actress for her role in A Star is Born, and release the albums Joanne and 2020’s Chromatica, Gaga says her outward success masked the turmoil within.
“It’s not always easy, if you have mental issues, to let other people see,” she says. “I used to show. I used to self-harm. I used to say, ‘Look. I cut myself. See, I’m hurt,’ ’cause I didn’t think anyone could see. ‘Cause mental health, it’s invisible.
“The people around me, they lifted me up, and they said, ‘You think you’re drowning, but you’re not. You’re still amazing.’ And I used to go, ‘I’m not amazing. I’m over.'”
When asked by Cowan if she’d contemplated death by suicide during that dark time, she says, “Oh, yeah. Every day.”
She adds, “I lived in this house while people watched me for a couple years, to make sure that I was safe.”
Of those impulses, she says, “I didn’t really understand why I should live other than to be there for my family. That was an actual real thought and feeling: ‘Why should I stick around?’”
Gaga says she’s in a better place these days, but that mental anguish, coupled with fibromyalgia and PTSD from being sexually assaulted at age 19, continues to take a toll. In fact, her new single Chromatica includes the lyric “pop a 911” — which she calls a “reference to the medication that I have to take when I used to panic, because I’m Lady Gaga.”
“Most of the time it is triggered by objectification,” she says of the “total panic, full body pain” she experiences. “If I’m at the grocery store, and somebody comes up very close to me and puts a cellphone right in my face, and just starts taking pictures … I’m braced because I’m so afraid. It’s like I’m an object, I’m not a person.”
The singer is hoping her candidness will help others struggling in difficult times; she’s also releasing Channel Kindness, a collection of stories from young adults on the importance of kindness during the darkest moments.
On a more personal level, she’s also determined to push through her own torment and embrace self-love again.
“It’s that cheesy thing that you say, like, ‘Oh, I’m glad I went through it because it made me stronger?’ OK. I coulda done without the last two-and-a-half years of my life!” she says. “ I coulda done without that. But you know what? It happened …
“I don’t hate Lady Gaga anymore,” she adds. “I found a way to love myself again, even when I thought that was never gonna happen. Now, I look at this piano and I go, ‘Oh, my God. My piano! My piano that I love so much! My piano that lets me speak. My piano that lets me make poetry. My piano, that’s mine!’”
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.
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