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What Meghan Markle’s Interview Taught Me About This Photo and My Depression

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Whether you binge-watched “The Crown,” woke up at the crack of dawn to witness the royal weddings on TV, or still do not know Harry from William, it is nearly impossible to avoid any news surrounding the royal family. This past February, Oprah Winfrey sat down with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, for an in-depth, no-holds-barred interview. After recently moving across the pond with their new baby and announcing that they will not be returning to royal duties, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were ready to address the sensitive issues that have been swirling around in the news.

On paper, the royal couple seemed to have it all – fame, beauty and power. But behind closed doors, their struggles were ones that many can relate to. In their interview, Meghan Markle reveals how the past few years took a serious toll on her mental health. One profound moment in the interview was when they showed a beautiful picture of Harry and Meghan attending a black-tie affair. From the looks of the picture, everything looked wonderful — Meghan and Harry eloquently dressed, smiling for the cameras, holding hands, and looking like a young couple excited for the arrival of their first baby. Meghan went on to reveal that just before the picture was taken, she had disclosed to Harry that she was severely struggling with her mental health issues and experiencing suicidal thoughts. She explained, “I knew that if I didn’t say it, that I would do it — and I just didn’t want to be alive anymore… I can’t be left alone.” Voicing that you need help can be extremely difficult for someone silently struggling. Meghan’s acknowledgment that her mental health was suffering helped to destigmatize conversations about mental illness around the world.

Witnessing Meghan Markle let her guard down and acknowledge that she struggles with mental health issues certainly made me feel less alone with my own mental health journey. Hearing her truth about the photograph from what appeared to be a magical night, yet was far from it, is something that anyone, regardless of fame, can understand. For example, social media can be an incredible platform, but it is easy to get caught up in it. Everyone constantly appears to be happy, but for someone struggling with mental illness, it can make them feel like they are alone in a sea of smiles. I have battled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression and have been in therapy for 20 years now. While I have always been active and social, cheerleading in college and frequently on the go, I have fought through some dark times in my life. I look back at photographs of myself and know that there was more behind the smiles and have learned to take pictures with a grain of salt. In reality, we are all dealing with something and just because someone looks happy in an image does not mean that they aren’t dealing with their own issues.

Mental illness can affect people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. This brought me back to my first article ever published by The Mighty, where I stated “Depression and mental illness see no color. It is not a choice. Mental illness is not for the lazy, the weak, the poor or the unmotivated.” Seeing someone as accomplished as Meghan Markle speak about mental illness helped to normalize it for anyone struggling and emphasizes the notion of “you are not alone.”

Image via contributor.

Originally published: April 2, 2021
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