Lady Gaga Channels Her Troubled Teenage Self

08/13/2013 at 04:15 PM EDT

Lady Gaga Channels Her Troubled Teenage Self
Lady Gaga
Courtesy V Magazine

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

She's the new queen of reinvention but Lady Gaga really takes that title seriously for the September issue of V magazine – posing for four different covers based on different stages in her life.

In the photo featured here, the singer wears a custom Saint Laurent sequined jacket and goes back to her vulnerable teenage years.

"That look was very hard for me because that is how I looked when I was 19 until I was 21 years old … Maybe longer," she says. "I got my hair cut like that when I was 18 and all these really painful things happened during this time."

The 27-year-old – whose new single, "Applause," was released on Monday, a week early after it was leaked online – admits it was hard "to go back to that place."

"I have an ability to experience pain for long periods of time – to endure it, whether it's mental pain or physical pain," she explains. "I think it's because of my discipline as a child. I studied piano and then theater and then dance, so I have this ability to endure long periods of pain. But as a result, when I became an adult at 18, I allowed myself to stay in bad situations because I was able to take the pain."

"Although I was able to withstand a challenge for that period of time in my youth, the results were destructive. I was left a shell," she adds. "Does anyone really know what I went through to get here?"

The singer, who's admitted to battling an eating disorder and a drug problem when she was younger, says it was her creativity that saved her.

"Art was always the thing that drove me forward in these challenging and painful circumstances."

Lady Gaga's new album, Artpop is out Nov. 11.

Lady Gaga Channels Her Troubled Teenage Self| Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Courtesy V Magazine

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