During a raw, deeply emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle revealed the onslaught of harassment she received as a member of the royal family led her to a mental “breaking point.” She sought help for suicidal ideation but told Winfrey, “Nothing was ever done.”Elle
I admit that I do not follow the Royal family. I am Canadian but it isn’t something that I’m really fascinated with or think about. However, I did watch parts of the interview Meghan Markle had with Oprah while I was writing. And there were many parts that were quite shocking in that interview. However, I wanted to discuss the mental illness aspect because I can relate to that and I know so many other people can.
“Look, I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it, to Harry especially, because I know how much loss he’s suffered. But I knew that if I didn’t say it that I would do it—and I just didn’t want to be alive anymore. And that was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought.
“And I remember how [Harry] just cradled me and I was, I went to the institution and said that I needed to go somewhere to get help, said that I’ve never felt this way before and I need to go somewhere, and they said I couldn’t, that it wouldn’t be good for the institution.”Elle
Shame and guilt
When I heard her say she didn’t want to mention her suicidal ideation and depression due to feeling ashamed I know this was something so many of us relate to. We don’t want to be a burden to those in our lives. We want to be strong. We think we Should be stronger. There is tremendous guilt that comes with feeling like you must be just weak and useless because you can’t handle things that apparently everyone else can.
We feel everyone would be better off without us. And we feel that deep in our essence even if that isn’t true.
I felt very weak and that I had to push through. That I should handle it myself and be strong enough to handle it myself. Meghan did the brave and courageous thing of saying she was having problems and asking for help. I didn’t. And that almost killed me. I was almost a statistic. I asked for help when I was actively suicidal the second time. So I did learn a thing or two from my therapy. And then I went on medication. But in the beginning, yeah, I hid it like a pro. Partly because I had Seen and I had Heard how a fellow co-worker was treated due to her Major Depressive Disorder and the massive stigma there was there. It made me feel horrible about myself and there was no way in hell I was going to admit to that… weakness.
So I applaud her that bravery, then, and definitely now. But she was shot down. Because of ‘appearances’.
“I share this because there’s so many people who are afraid to voice that they need help,” she said. “And I know personally how hard it is to—not just hard it is but when your voice is silenced, to be told no…This was emails, begging for help, saying very specifically I am concerned for my mental welfare…Nothing was ever done. So we had to find a solution.”Elle
Our pain minimized
Many of us have tried to open up in various ways to various people and we have felt a fraction of the backlash Meghan felt.
- Oh, everyone gets sad sometimes
- Life is hard, you just need to suck it up
- Some people have things worse, you know
- Just smile more and be more positive!
- You know… life isn’t fair for any of us
- Just snap out of it and stop with the pity party
- Life goes on
- Life is hard for everyone you know
We are not believed or our depression is Minimized or shrugged off as unimportant. We feel ashamed even more and that this is something that has to stay hidden and dealt with ourselves.
The doubt. The stigma
Let’s say you do tell people you have depression. That you need treatment or are getting treatment. That you need a leave from work.
Well, we can simply not be believed at all. Faking it. Exaggerating. Drama. Whatever. Perceived as weak. Or ‘crazy’. As undependable. As a liability to the workplace.
Many may have heard of Piers Morgan and his hissy fit about Meghan Markle where he stated he didn’t believe anything she said, including her struggle with mental illness. I have no idea what that man’s issue is. But I do know we encounter people like that. In the medical profession, with out insurance companies, with our employer and fellow co-workers. It makes one wish we never said anything at all. That we had kept hiding it even though we Know that being open about it is how we get the treatment we need and without that treatment the consequences could be dire. We are doing what we have to do for our mental health- and then we have to pay the additional price of all the stigma that comes with that.
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Mental illness awareness and speaking out
When people speak out it does make it easier for others to speak out.
Simply hearing someone else talk about their own mental health issues — be it a close friend or celebrity on the international stage — can have a profound and lasting impact.
Evidence has shown that the number of people who seek mental health support increases after a celebrity discloses their own experiences with a mental health conditionHealthline
I know there is alos a lot of backlash and stigma when a celebrity speaks out. That just tells us how much More we need awareness. But the fact is when someone is suicidal or depressed and they hear about someone else they know, respect, or someone famous, tell their story and their struggles- it can help them seek help and that is a powerful and important thing there.
Research suggests that by opening up about their own mental health issues, celebrities like Markle can help shed light on how common mental health issues are.
Their stories can help normalize and destigmatize mental health conditions, and inspire people to seek help.Healthline