Lady Gaga gets real about her “life-changing” chronic pain to help others feel less alone

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Amy Swales
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Lady Gaga has spoken again about the often misunderstood and overlooked issue of chronic pain, describing the experience of opening up in a candid new Netflix documentary as “hard, but it’s liberating.”

Getting visibly emotional during a press conference ahead of the premiere of Gaga: Five Foot Two at the Toronto International Film Festival, she said she was hoping that being open about her own struggles would help fellow sufferers realise they are “not alone”.

“There is an element and a very strong piece of me that believes pain is a microphone. My pain does me no good unless I transform it into something that is [good].

“I hope that people watching it that do struggle with chronic pain know that they are not alone.”

The singer last year linked the pain to having been raped at the age of 19, saying it came from a “paralysing fear” she’d been suffering from in the decade since the attack. Injury or trauma can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which Gaga suffers from, and the condition has been linked with triggering chronic pain disorder fibromyalgia.

On top of that, the star suffered a hip injury while touring in 2013, resulting in her cancelling a number of concerts. The injury left her with synovitis, an inflammation of tissue, and could have ended up requiring a total hip replacement had she continued to perform. Gaga has previously revealed she uses an infrared sauna to try and help manage the pain.

Often dubbed one of the world’s ‘invisible illnesses’, chronic pain can be difficult for non-sufferers to understand or appreciate when there is often no outward sign of distress. However the constant. incurable pain can be debilitating, severely affecting a sufferer’s day-to-day life.

And in the press conference, Gaga acknowledged that some might not understand her daily pain given how she manages to perform on stage, but she wanted to inspire others with the film, which lands on Netflix 22 September.

“There’s a degree of self-deprecation and shame that goes along with feeling in pain a lot,” she said. “I want people that watch it that think there’s no way I live that way because they see me dance and sing, to know I struggle with things like them and that I work through it and that it can be done.”

She continued: “We have to stick together and I don’t have to hide it because it’s weak. It’s a part of me and I’m grateful to Chris [Moukarbel, director] for caring.”

Reviews say the star frankly discusses a number of sensitive issues, including her daily battle with depression and anxiety, the PTSD and physical pain, and her relationships.

Moukarbel, who directed and filmed the project, confirmed that it was difficult following the star as she sought treatment for her condition: “It was incredibly hard, on a basic fundamental human level, to be near someone experiencing pain like that. There's nothing you can do, beyond filming.

“I felt I needed to continue to roll. She was very aware of people struggling with similar chronic pain.”

Gaga has also produced the documentary, which filmed in 2016 while she was working on her album Joanne.

She said she’d now be taking time out from music “for some healing”, saying, “I’m going to take a rest.”

Gaga: Five Foot Two will be released on Netflix 22 September.

Image: Rex Features