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“OPRAH: Thanks for coming. I was saying to reporters yesterday, I was really nervous about asking you. First of all, because I—it’s one of those things— I was. So nervous about asking you.
LADY GAGA: And then you asked me and I was, like, move my vacation. I’d do anything for Oprah.
OPRAH: I want to know when you got clarity for yourself about the vision of creating Gaga.
LADY GAGA: Well, you know, at first when I was younger, I went through a lot of struggles in high school. I was really bullied. I didn’t feel good about myself. And I got made fun of. Like why do you want to be a singer? Why do you want to be a musician? Why do you want to be an actress? And I felt so secluded and isolated. And it was time, once I dropped out of college, I will admit—stay in school—but I dropped out of college because I was, like, I have to pursue my dreams as a musician. This is what I want. And it was in creating Gaga, that I was able to create a superhero for myself. It was a vision for the me that I wanted to be. I wanted to be confident. I wanted to be filled with self-compassion. I wanted to be filled with compassion for others. And I wanted to share my story and my vision of the world with the world.
OPRAH: And so you created this sort of alter person, Gaga.
LADY GAGA: Who now has become me also. I don’t know what happened but it sort of—but that’s what happens when you have a vision for yourself, you can be here, right? And then you have your vision. And then all of a sudden.
OPRAH: The two merge.
LADY GAGA: They come together.
OPRAH: You become aligned. And you say Lady Gaga, the creation of Gaga actually gave Stefani the wings to fly.
LADY GAGA: Gaga, myself, has given me the wings to fly. And what I was going to, you know, add is that now, after almost over a decade of being in the industry, I recognize my position that people are watching me. Now, I could hyper-focus on being objectified or being in tabloids or being gossiped about, but you know what? I’m thinking to myself, oh, the world is watching. And I have something important to say. And I want to change people’s lives. And now my mission is different. And I have a responsibility to this whole world.
OPRAH: Yes. Because one of the things that we discussed in Elle, one of the things that surprised me when we talked about it in the recent Elle magazine, you were saying—I was saying you have spent a lot of time shocking the world. That meat dress was the first time we all, like, were kind of aghast. And you said you have now reached a point in your life where you don’t feel the need to create some identity of shocker—shocking people.
LADY GAGA: Yes. I think it was something that I enjoyed to bemuse people so they would listen to the music and there was sort of a state of confusion of who is this woman? I don’t really—I’m, like—it’s kind of like, you know, watching a train wreck. You know? But the truth is that that was part of my art form was, how do I get people to see and watch and listen and become engaged with me on a personal level? Even though it felt quite superficial I think for a lot of people. And it’s changed since then because, number one, it’s no longer shocking to have pink hair. And number two, I think the most shocking thing that I could possibly do is be completely vulnerable and honest with you about my life, how—what I’ve been through, the struggles that I’ve seen that I have also been a part of, and share that with the world so that I can help other people who are suffering. And one of those things that I deeply care about is mental health.
OPRAH: So someone had asked you what do you see when you look at that Oscar, and you say you see a lot of pain. And is that because of the hard work? Or is that because of the actual physical mental pain that you had to go through up until that moment to get it?
LADY GAGA: Well, it’s not a huge secret, but some of you might not know in the audience tonight or who’s watching, but I struggle with mental health issues. And I struggle also with chronic pain. Some call it fibromyalgia. Or neuropathic pain.
OPRAH: What does that mean, fibromyalgia? What does that mean?
LADY GAGA: That is a very big question, Oprah. So fibromyalgia is essentially a chronic pain condition that makes your body hurt through your brain. Now, someone that might be watching this that has it might be saying, don’t tell me that my fibromyalgia is in my head because my whole body hurts. And even sitting here with you today, I’m in head-to-toe pain. But what’s interesting about it is that I’ve found through neuropsych research and my relationship with my doctors that fibromyalgia can be treated through mental health therapy. And mental health is a medical condition. It should be treated as a medical condition. It should not be ignored. And I—
OPRAH: So twice you’ve said you have mental health issues. What does that mean for you? Because as I was sharing with you on the phone, I have a girls’ school with girls who have come from traumatic backgrounds. And I didn’t know, until I started this school, because I had this idea that I’m gonna create this school and everybody’s gonna come and they’re gonna get an education and they’re gonna go out in the world and everything’s gonna be fabulous. I had no idea the impact that trauma has on your mental health.
LADY GAGA: Well, I’ve shared this with you, and I will share it again, very vulnerably with all of you. I could object my book and read it, but I’ll just tell you. So I was raped repeatedly when I was 19 years old. And I also developed PTSD.
OPRAH: As a result of the rape?
LADY GAGA: As a result of being raped. And also not processing that trauma. I did not have anyone help me. I did not have a therapist. I did not have a psychiatrist. I did not have a doctor help me through it. I just all of a sudden became a star and was traveling the world going from hotel room to garage to limo to stage. And I never dealt with it. And then all of a sudden, I started to experience this incredible, intense pain throughout my entire body that mimicked, actually, the illness that I felt after I was raped. So what that is called…
OPRAH: Were you raped by someone you knew?
LADY GAGA: I was raped by someone that I knew. Repeatedly. And it was a trauma response. So when you asked me about what fibromyalgia is, what I would like for you to know, and to shine a light on, is that many people don’t know what it is. And we need to all get together and figure this out. And this is how we’re gonna do it. There’s the neuropsych aspect. There’s also an immunity aspect that where there is a possibility that the immune system has something to do with fibromyalgia or trauma response or neuropathic pain. Whatever you want to call it. And there’s also some similarity in my condition to autoimmune diseases. But fibromyalgia is not an autoimmune disease. So what I take an oath, as a commitment today, with you, is it’s 2020. And for the next decade, and maybe longer, I’m going to get the smartest scientists, doctors, psychiatrists, mathematicians, researchers, and professors in the same room together and we are going to go through each problem, one by one, and we are going to solve this mental health crisis.
OPRAH: You know what I found interesting, you became famous really quickly, even though there had been so much work put into getting to the point where we then knew you and you became famous. And you made the decision, or have made the decision that you’re not interested in just fame but you’re also looking for impact.
LADY GAGA: I want impact. I always did. I thought it was just through music at one point. I had some dreams of being an actress. And then it really was a spiritual awakening for me. I mean, I consider myself a spiritual, religious woman. I don’t go to church every Sunday. But I do pray every day. I prayed, like, eight times before I came out here with you. I was, like, God, just tell me what to say. And the truth is that once I became famous, I thought to myself, well, I can—I will, and I want to continue making music, I will and want to continue being in movies, but I want to help people. These people that come to my shows, I don’t want to just take your money and sing for you. I want to help change your life. And I have all this life experience. And I can’t—you know, when I talk to God, right? And you know whatever you want to call it for yourself. If it’s God or the other realm or your angels or…
OPRAH: By any name.
LADY GAGA: By any name.
OPRAH: It responds.
LADY GAGA: Any gender. Right? It responds. When I talk to God, I say, tell me what to do. Because I’m being watched. And I want to do the right thing here. So tell me what to say. Tell me how to say it. And help me see the path. And if you show me that path, I will walk down it. And do you know what, Oprah? Look where that path has led me. I am sitting right next to you.
OPRAH: Ah. Every time. Ask and you shall be given. What has been your greatest spiritual awakening? Greatest spiritual awakening.
LADY GAGA: I think my greatest spiritual awakening actually has been quite recent. I think it’s that I realize that I have the chronic pain that I have for a reason. And I don’t mean to be, like, God gave it to me. You know? And I also don’t believe in that, like, karma thing where you’re sick because you did something bad. But I do believe that this was—this happened for a reason. All the things I’ve been through, I think they were supposed to happen. I was supposed to go through this.
OPRAH: Even the rape.
LADY GAGA: Even the rape. All of it. I think I was supposed to go through all of these things. I radically accept that they happened. And I think it happened because God was saying to me, I’m going to show you pain. And then you’re gonna help other people who are in pain, because you’re gonna understand it.
OPRAH: Mm. Because you can’t—you can’t give what you don’t have.
LADY GAGA: I can’t look away. Because now when I see someone in pain, I can’t look away because I go, no. You’re in pain. I’m in pain, too. And then now, I’m in problem-solving mode. I’ve got my suit on and my heels and I’m ready to go.
OPRAH: Yes. So this wisdom came from this pain. What has been the lesson that’s actually taken you the longest to learn?
LADY GAGA: How to be wise. See, there is the rational mind. And there is the emotional mind. And I think from day to day, we all experience ourselves, if we’re mindful, in some type of way, which I think this is good to be mindful about, is am I operating from an emotional space today? Or from a rational space today? Meaning, when I say rational, I mean cerebral. Like intelligence. Thoughts. Facts. You know, just really pragmatic. And emotional meaning, like, am I operating from the heart? Am I really upset because my boyfriend broke up with me and I’m a mess, you know, and I’m just being completely irrational. Wise sits in the center. Wise is when you are both rational and emotional at the same time, and those two things meet and you become wise. And that was the lesson that I learned. I had to learn how to pull myself back from either place, and then sit in the center. Because actually, a psychotic break, and if you look in the brain, or its eye sort of a metaphor about the brain, you’re centered in here. Right?
OPRAH: Because you had a psychotic break.
LADY GAGA: I had a psychotic break. I’ll explain what happened. Here’s my brain. Right? Here’s my center. Right? And then I was triggered, really badly, in a court deposition, and I just, like, this part of the brain where you stay centered and you don’t disassociate, right? It went like this. It slammed down. And my whole body started tingling, and I started screaming.
OPRAH: Where were you?
LADY GAGA: I was in a hospital. And it’s very—it’s very difficult to describe what it feels like other than that you first are completely tingling from head to toe, and then you go numb. But what is essentially happening is the brain goes, ‘That’s enough. I don’t want to think about this anymore. I don’t want to feel this anymore.’ Boom.
OPRAH: You literally break from reality as we know it.
LADY GAGA: You break from reality as we know it. You have no concept of what’s going on around you. There is nothing wrong. But you are in a traumatic state that you feel like I remember going into the hospital and screaming, why is no one else panicking? Why aren’t you panicking? And then they run a psychiatrist in and then—and I’m in head-to-toe pain at the same time. Right? And they brought in a psychiatrist. And I said, can you get me a real doctor? And he was, like, hey, so nice to meet you. And he sat down. And I was, like, I need medicine. I don’t feel well. I can’t feel my legs, help me. Right? And then he just said, I need you to explain to me what happened today. And I was so annoyed. But I’m telling you this story because even I who run Born This Way Foundation with my mother was irritated that they brought a psychiatrist in to help me. I mean, that’s how, like, gone I was. I was so separated from the world. And once we started talking, he realized what had happened to me, and then he ordered medication for me that I took, reluctantly, at first, and then he became my psychiatrist and assembled a team for me, and I went away to a place that I go to sometimes still for, like, a reboot. And they took care of me and we got all of the things lined up. And I have a very unorthodox, actually, set of pills that I take. But they saved my life. And I’m very grateful.
OPRAH: So you use medication, but you also do many other things to keep yourself spiritually sound and centered.
LADY GAGA: Yes. So I meditate. I do transcendental meditation. It’s—it’s great. Bob Roth taught me.
OPRAH: Bob Roth taught me.
LADY GAGA: Isn’t he great?
OPRAH: He’s great.
LADY GAGA: Sorry.
LADY GAGA: And so I do that. And when I slip up on it, you know it’s not the best because it’s like—it’s better when I do. And sometimes I can be in a ton of pain and meditate and it goes away. It’s amazing. I also work out every day. But I also listen to my body. So if I’m in a lot of pain and deep stress, I might not do either as hard of a workout or I might, you know, not work out at all. I do listen to my body and I listen to what it’s telling me. I do talk therapy. Dialectical behavioral therapy. And I also do lots of other things like opposite action, for example. So let’s say you’re feeling really depressed and you’re at home and you’ve been at home for seven days straight and you just can’t leave the house and you just—you practice opposite action. Someone invites you to go somewhere, or you reach out to a friend and you say, hey, you want to play a game of poker? Get up, get in your car, and go. Opposite action. That’s something that I do all the time.
OPRAH: So you’re actively working on yourself all the time.
LADY GAGA: All the time I actively work on myself. I have to. If I don’t, I will sit and I will be in pain all day.
OPRAH: I would say gratitude is my religion. It’s the thing I practice with, you know, deep consciousness and a sense of regularity and discipline about it. And for you, that is kindness.
LADY GAGA: It is kindness. Kindness heals the world. I said this with the Dalai Lama once. I said, the earth is slowly rotting apple on the kitchen counter.
OPRAH: Oh, no.
LADY GAGA: It’s the truth.
LADY GAGA: I’m sorry. But it’s just true. I mean, it’s like—
OPRAH: The earth is a slowly rotting apple?
LADY GAGA: But it’s slow. It’s really slow. Right? But we have to be kind to that apple, to the humanity of that apple, and we have to be kind to the environment to keep that apple alive as long as possible. And that’s through kindness. And I have actually my commitment here.
OPRAH: I want to hear your commitment.
LADY GAGA: I commit to gratitude to bring the greatest minds I can find in the world together to one by one solve the mental health crisis that is plaguing our world. I want to create an epicenter of healing. Because when I give to others, I give also back to myself.
OPRAH: Indeed. Lady Gaga. Gave up her vacation to come and sit and share her truth with us. Thank you.
LADY GAGA: Can I just say, Oprah, I love you.
OPRAH: I love you back, girl. I love you back.