LADY Gaga is one of the most famous women on the planet, but the superstar has battled an incredibly tragic life to get here.
The 34-year-old – real name Stefani Germanotta – burst on to the scene in 2007 with smash hits Just Dance and Poker Face, but behind the scenes was a young woman battling eating disorders, drug addiction, family loss, and sexual assault.
Now, she has been faced with the shocking moment her dog walker was shot by bulldog thieves.
Ryan Fischer was walking the superstar's pooches, Koji, Miss Asia and Gustavo, just before 10pm on Wednesday night when the incident occurred.
Both Koji and Gustavo were stolen, but Miss Asia got away and was later recovered by cops; Gaga is now offering $500,000 for the return of her beloved pets, "no questions asked," according to TMZ – although it may be jeopardizing the investigation.
It comes less than a year after Gaga admitted that fame led to her "feeling suicidal," and that despite the fans and the acclaim, she "didn't really understand why I should live."
"I hated being famous. I hated being a star," she told CBS in 2020.
"I felt exhausted and used up. I didn't really understand why I should live other than to be there for my family. That was an actual real thought and feeling: 'Why should I stick around?'"
Born in 1986 in New York, Gaga always wanted to perform and enrolled in ballet lessons.
But by the age of 15 she was battling the eating disorders bulimia and anorexia, admitting in 2012 that she "used to throw up all the time in high school."
"I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night," she said, at a conference called It’s Our Turn.
Her father had himself had a tough childhood, seeing his older sister Joanne die at the age of 18 in 1974 when he was just 16.
Gaga has the date of her Aunt Joanne’s death tattooed on her arm, and the Upper West Side restaurant Joe, which opened in 2012, is also named after her.
Joanne died of lupus, and in2010 Gaga revealed that tests had her as "borderline positive" for the disease, meaning she will need to keep an eye on her symptoms for the rest of her life.
Gaga, however, also has fibromyalgia, and in September 2017 she was hospitalized due to “severe pain” and forced to cancel tour dates.
“I get so irritated with people who don’t believe fibromyalgia is real,” the singer said in 2018 to Vogue.
“For me, and I think for many others, it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result."
But as her fame grew, Gaga turned more to drugs, snorting cocaine on her own "in my apartment while I wrote music."
"Don't touch it. It's the devil," she told Howard Stern in 2011 but admitted in 2013 that she was also"smoking up to 15-20 marijuana cigarettes a day with no tobacco."
Speaking radio station Z100 she said: “I was living on a totally other psychedelic plane, numbing myself completely, and looking back I do see now that some of it had to do with my hip pain.
"I didn’t know where the pain was coming from so I was just in a lot of pain and very depressed all the time and not really sure why.”
The singer added that fame had led to her relying on illegal substances, admitting: “I’ve been addicted to various things since I was young. Most heavily over the past seven year. But, the truth is that it is very hard to be famous."
"It's very lonely being a performer," Gaga shared in 2018 with the LA Times. "There's a certain loneliness that I feel, anyway — that I'm the only one that does what I do. So, it feels like no one understands. And the urge to use is because you're searching for a way to quell the pain."
Gaga found fame lonely – and close friend Tony Bennett wrote in his book Just Getting Started that "there were people who pretended to be her friends, but mostly wanted to attach themselves to her trajectory into the stars — and her money."
In her 2017 Netflix documentary she also spoke of her love life, and how fame had led to it "imploding."
"I sold 10 million [records] and lost Matt [MIchael Williams]. I sold 30 million and lost Luc [Carl]. I did a movie and lost Taylor [Kinney]. It's like a turnover."
In October 2018, Gaga announced her engagement to talent agent Christian Carino whom she had met in early 2017, but four months later they ended the engagement.
Gaga is now dating entrepreneur Michael Polansky.
In 2016, Gaga movingly opened up on the sexual assault she faced as a teeanger, after she penned the Oscar-nominated track Til It Happens To You for the feature documentary The Hunting Ground, a film about sexual assaults on American college campuses.
At a TimesTalks panel, Gaga revealed she had been assaulted at age 19 by a man 20 years her senior, but “didn’t want to be defined by it.”
"I didn't tell anyone for, I think, seven years," she said.
"I didn't know how to think about it. I didn't know how to accept it. I didn't know how not to blame myself, or think it was my fault. It was something that really changed my life. It changed who I was completely."
Gaga went on to add that she thought she had "brought it on myself in some way,” because of the way she dressed, and added that the physical consequences of the rape were just as painful as the emotional.
"When you go through a trauma like that, it doesn't just have the immediate physical ramifications on you," she shared.
"For many people it is almost like trauma, where you re-experience it through the years after it, it can trigger patterns in your body of physical distress."
In 2021, though, the nine-time grammy winner and Oscar winner no longer "hates Lady Gaga."
"I found a way to love myself again, even when I thought that was never gonna happen."
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