The Overlooked Scene in Lady Gaga's Documentary I Related to as Someone With Depression

Ask anyone who knew me in middle school: I loved Lady Gaga. Who she was, what she stood for, her individuality — I loved her and defended her against all the haters. After the recent release of her album “Joanne,” I fell in love again. When I heard she was making a documentary, I was so excited. I just finished watching it as I write this. Her struggles and perseverance are displayed so beautifully throughout the film, and it simply made me even more inspired by her. It reminded me why I love her so much, and seeing her in as much pain as she was in broke my heart.

While the film is primarily about her road back after a five year hiatus, it touches on a visit to her grandmother to learn more about “Joanne,” delving into the meaning behind her album. She finds a picture of Joanne before she died with writing on the back — a poem. As Gaga read the poem, tears welled up in my eyes.

“Hear what I’m not saying

Don’t be fooled

I wear a mask

A thousand masks

So I play the game

The glittering but empty parade of the masks.”

I don’t know Joanne, but I feel like I do. I resonate with every single word of this poem. Hear what I’m not saying. Hear me. Hear the lies in my “I’m fine.” Hear the hurt in my voice and the pain in my eyes. Hear the weakness in my responses. Hear my silence. Hear that I’m not speaking, that I can’t speak, that my own darkness is choking me and the words will not come out.

Don’t be fooled. I wear a mask. A thousand masks. Please see through me. I am not OK. I pretend I’m fine, I smile faintly, I laugh at your jokes and even make my own sometimes. But I’m wearing a mask. I’m not “getting fresh air” by going on a walk, I’m overwhelmed, I want to hurt myself and I know that if I stay in the room, I will. I’m not the kind of tired sleep can fix, I am exhausted of getting out of bed to fight the same fight every single day. I wear a thousand masks. I’m pretending to be OK every waking hour until the night hits and no one’s there.

So I play the game. I fake it. I wait it out. I keep pretending and I keep smiling and laughing. The mask stays on and the game continues. The game of life. The game I often don’t want to play anymore.

The glittering but empty parade of the masks. The glittering outside that, deep down, is empty and hollow. My words and my actions may shine, they may look nice and like nothing’s wrong, but my heart, my soul — they’re hurting. I’m hurting. But the parade continues. The parade of pretending as everyone stands and claps on the sideline as my fellow mask-wearers and I waltz down the line.

The poem is perfect. It may be short, but it’s powerful and rich. Joanne found the words I couldn’t. Thank you, Lady Gaga, for your raw honesty, your vulnerability and your incredible strength. Thank you for sharing your story and for giving us a look into Joanne’s.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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Lead image via Lady Gaga’s Facebook

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