BEVERLY HILLS — Lady Gaga pre-empted her own speech Thursday night at a SAG-AFTRA fundraiser, calling out the need for mental health programs with a warning.
“I feel very much like I do not belong here,” the pop star-turned-Oscar-buzzworthy actress said to members of SAG-AFTRA at the guild’s annual fundraiser Patron Of the Artists Awards, where Spike Lee, Harrison Ford and Jeffrey Katzenberg were also honored.
“So I spent three-and-a-half hours writing what I was going to say. And as I’ve been sitting here all night, I’ve been going, ‘Oh my God, your speech is too long and everybody’s going to get bored.’ ”
At about 20 minutes, the speech was long, yes. But the room of actors was riveted by what Gaga said from the podium about kindness, mental health outreach and her own struggles.
“We are losing a generation of young people who do not believe that their voices are worth hearing,” she said, suggesting that SAG-AFTRA partner with Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation to provide mental health teams for those suffering. “The need in this world for kindness is paralyzing. The negative news and tragedies are nonstop and overwhelming.”
She referenced the shooting Wednesday night at a California bar that left 13 dead, including the suspected gunman.
“We need to share our stories so that global mental health no longer resides and festers in the darkness,” she said. “It is dangerous and we know this, because amongst other shootings and acts of violence, just last night there was a shooting in Thousand Oaks by a veteran who was believed to have suffered from untreated post-traumatic-stress disorder (according to authorities he had an episode of erratic behavior last spring that suggested PTSD) which is a mental issue. We know that this is dangerous, we know that it’s important and we have to pay attention to it.”
Experts say the actions of the California bar shooting suspect Ian David Long, 28, a Marine Corps veteran, should not be blamed on PTSD.
Lady Gaga continued: “When I speak about mental health, especially when I’m speaking about mine, it is often met with quietness. Or maybe, a somber line of fans, waiting outside to whisper to me in the shadows about their darkest secrets. We need to bring mental health into the light.”
As a way of example, Gaga shared her own “list” of issues she’s had to deal with.
She’s had “symptoms of dissociation and PTSD” which turned into “physical chronic pain, fibromyalgia, panic attacks, acute trauma responses and debilitating mental spirals that have included suicidal ideation and masochistic behavior.”
After years of saying ‘yes’ to every job opportunity she was offered, the word ‘yes’ “became too automatic, and my inner voice shut down, which I have learned now is very unhealthy,” she said. “I was not empowered to say no. I began to notice that I would stare off into space and black out for seconds or minutes. I would see flashes of things I was tormented by, experiences that were filed away.
The evening’s MC, Rachel Bloom, was so compelled by Gaga’s speech that she opened up about her own mental illnesses before closing the show.
“I, too, suffer from anxiety and depression. I thank God every day for my Prozac. And part of the reason I have treatment is because I can afford it,” Bloom said. “I just want to say thank you to Lady Gaga for that speech.”
Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY
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