Lady Gaga has penned a hopeful open letter on how she copes with her post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on a daily basis.
The 30-year-old singer revealed she has suffered from the condition since being raped at the age of 19, during an interview on U.S. TV show Today earlier this week.
Now Gaga has opened up more about her struggles with the disorder in a letter written on her Born This Way Foundation website.
"I have wrestled for some time about when, how, and if I should reveal my diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)," she writes. "After five years of searching for the answers to my chronic pain and the change I have felt in my brain, I am finally well enough to tell you. There is a lot of shame attached to mental illness, but it’s important that you know that there is hope and a chance for recovery.
"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. Examples are leaving the house or being touched by strangers who simply want to share their enthusiasm for my music."
Symptoms of Gaga's disorder include disassociation, somatization—which the singer describes as "pain in the body caused by an inability to express my emotional pain in words"—and even a form of paralysis.
Explaining the latter, the "Joanne" star continues: "As my doctors have taught me, I cannot express my feelings because my 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.
"When this happens I can’t talk. When this happens repeatedly, it makes me have a common PTSD reaction which is that I feel depressed and unable to function like I used to. It’s harder to do my job. It’s harder to do simple things like take a shower. Everything has become harder."
Although the singer acknowledges coping with the condition is a daily battle, she is determined to conquer it, with the help of love from her support group: "My team, my family and friends, my doctors, and my incredible fans who I know will never give up on me," Gaga adds, "I will never give up on my dreams of art and music. I am continuing to learn how to transcend this because I know I can. If you relate to what I am sharing, please know that you can too."
She is seeing a psychiatrist for "various modalities of psychotherapy," as well as being on medication provided by her healthcare professional.
"However, I believe that the most inexpensive and perhaps the best medicine in the world is words," Gaga concludes. "Kind words…positive words…words that help people who feel ashamed of an invisible illness to overcome their shame and feel free."