Prince Harry is opening up about his mental health journey, as well his relationship with the royal family, in his and Oprah’s Apple TV+ docuseries The Me You Can’t See. The Duke explained that his own mental health struggles became more intense after losing his mother, Princess Diana, when he was just a child in 1997.
“I am one of the first people to recognize that firstly, I had a fear of — when I first went to therapy — a fear of losing,” he said, per People. “Four years of therapy for an individual that never thought that they would ever need or do therapy is … that’s a long time. I wasn’t in an environment where it was encouraged to talk about it either. That was sort of, like, squashed.”
Harry went on to explain that “Family members have said just play the game and your life will be easier. But I have a hell of a lot of my mum in me. I feel as though I am outside of the system but I’m still stuck there. The only way to free yourself and break out [is] to tell the truth.” He later added, “If your parents don’t want to talk about it. And your friends can’t remind you about it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t say, ‘Hang on a second, I may be the product of my upbringing.'”
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Harry explained that he “was all over the place mentally,” and recalled having “panic attacks [and] severe anxiety” during royal engagements in his twenties, saying “I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling.”
Ultimately, “it was meeting and being with Meghan, I knew that if I didn’t do therapy and fix myself, that I was going to lose this woman who I could see spending the rest of my life with.” But as Harry and Meghan faced increased scrutiny in the spotlight, Harry sought out help and found that his family wasn’t there for him:
“I thought my family would help, but every single ask, request, warning, whatever, it is just got met with total silence, total neglect. We spent four years trying to make it work. We did everything that we possibly could to stay there and carry on doing the role and doing the job. But Meghan was struggling.”
Harry and Meghan ultimately moved to America, and Harry feels he has broken the cycle he was living in.
“My father used to say to me, when I was younger, he used to say to both William and I, ‘Well, it was like that for me. So it’s going to be like that for you.’ That doesn’t make sense — just because you suffered it doesn’t mean that your kids have to suffer. In fact, quite the opposite. If you suffered, do everything you can to make sure that whatever negative experiences that you had, that you can make it right for your kids. We chose to put our mental health first. That’s what we’re doing. And that’s what we will continue to do. Isn’t this all about breaking the cycle? Isn’t it all about making sure that history doesn’t repeat itself? That whatever pain and suffering has happened to you, that you don’t pass on.”
Watch The Me You Can’t See on Apple TV+ on May 21.
If you are struggling with an anxiety disorder, please contact a licensed therapist who can help your individual needs, or visit websites like NAMI and NIMH, which offer treatment options and various resources.
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