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Lady Gaga Helped Me Come Out of the Mental Health Closet

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I just watched Lady Gaga’s music video for “911,” and I’m having a bit of a moment. Besides being the best track on her album “Chromatica,” which is filled with 90’s-styled club bangers, it’s also all about Gaga taking prescription medication for her mental health, and I’m here for it.

We seem to be experiencing a second kind of coming out. But instead of coming out as LGBTQIA, more and more people are being open and honest about their mental health. Now, I’m for sure no stranger to coming out. I mean, I used to wear Powerpuff Girl crop tops, but I’m pretty excited about this new mental health coming out party. For starters, it’s well-timed. We are not OK. Opioid overdoses were up 42% in May. In June, 40% of people reported struggling with their mental health. People are trying to deal with remote learning and working, lack of childcare, isolation, job loss, political unrest and unprecedented uncertainty. Doomscrolling has become the hobby du jour as we all hold our breaths waiting for yet another shoe to drop when we should probably be out of shoes by now. I mean, seriously, how many shoes can there possibly be?

So I’m all about this new moment when Lady Gaga, and countless other celebrities, are being candid about their mental health. It’s inspired me to be more open and honest about my own struggles. I write for Psychology Today and literally wrote the book on how improv-inspired exercises can help people calm down and connect, so I was a little ashamed when my doctor suggested I take an anti-anxiety medication at my last visit. But when he described how medication has helped other patients feel a sense of relief, I jumped at the chance. Relief is a pretty alluring word when you’re feeling as anxious as I was.

So I started taking a medication, and it was the Powerpuff crop top all over again. I talked to everyone about my medication and my anxiety. I sang it from the rooftops, and it definitely made people feel more comfortable to open up about their own mental health and experiences taking medication.

But just like my gay coming out story, I took it too far and had to rein things back in. I doubled my prescription and eventually couldn’t get out of bed. I gained some weight and just didn’t feel like myself anymore. So I called my doctor and decided to get off the medication, but just like retiring my crop tops didn’t make me any less gay, retiring my medication doesn’t make me any less anxious. I’m here, I’m an overthinker, get used to it! Coming out is always a process. What can I say? It feels important to be able to talk about this stuff.

Gaga was there for us when we were wearing crop tops and coming out of the LGBTQIA closet, so I love that she gets to lure us all out of the mental health closet, too. And what good timing. The pandemic and current political upheaval are heavy, and we can’t just pretend we’re “fine.” We’re not fine, so thank you, Gaga, for making it OK to talk about. And if it’s anything like the transition from “Chromatica II” into “911,” I think I’m going to like it here.

Screenshot from Lady Gaga’s YouTube page

Originally published: February 4, 2021
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