Why 'The Me You Can't See' Is the Honest Mental Health Show We Needed
If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.
Humans are a complicated species. Everyone at some point must deal with hardship. We are all very vulnerable. And it’s OK to show our emotions. To cry when it hurts. To reflect. To change. Everyone can use a little help along the way. There is no shame whatsoever. And there absolutely should be no stigma.
This is the essence of “The Me You Can’t See” — the new five-part docu-series on Apple TV+ that features Oprah, Prince Harry the Duke of Sussex, Lady Gaga, Glenn Close, San Antonio Spur DaMar DeRozen and a kaleidoscope of everyday people who are sensitive souls.
The documentary is unabashed, not only telling, but showing how we camouflage our feelings when we should be unraveling them, facing our demons, persevering or crawling through the path to wellness.
And whether it’s grief for a lost loved one, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or bipolar disorder and addiction which I have written a memoir about, all ailments that are touched upon in this documentary, we are all aspiring to get through this thing called life.
“The Me You Can’t See” truly humanizes mental illness in a way not seen in a long time from any popular media.
Oprah and Prince Harry are essentially the glue that holds together a global pastiche of colorful characters each trudging their way through immensely difficult mental health challenges.
Early on we meet Rashad Armstead, a chef in Oakland, CA who won the reality competition show “Chopped,” but lives with deep depression. He is not afraid to show himself on camera with tears in his eyes, noting that “therapy is taboo in the Black community.”
There’s boxing Olympian Ginny Fuchs who battles extreme OCD, obsessively cleaning her hands and spending $300 a month on soap. With the help of her therapist she learns to accept that not everything can be clean all the time.
And there’s the powerful story of Fawzi, a young refugee who is shown seeing a child psychiatrist in Greece to cope with the loss of his brother after a bomb dropped on him at a playground in Syria. Nothing is off limits in the discussions between people in the doc.
In vivid detail, Lady Gaga, credited with her first name Stefani, explains how she would cut herself as a teen, living with PTSD after she was raped at 19, and pregnant with her rapist’s baby. She endured a psychotic break, describing it this way:
“It’s like your brain goes offline and you don’t know why no one else is panicking but you’re in an ultra state of paranoia. It’s really a very real thing to feel like there’s a black cloud that is following you wherever you go telling you that you’re worthless and should die.”
In a show of strength, she says “I dry my tears and move on.”
The docu-series takes us inside a therapy session with Prince Harry, as he discusses his personal battles, panic attacks and severe anxiety with his psychiatrist and undergoes EMDR or “Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing” therapy on camera.
Addiction is a rarely talked about affliction. But Harry admits he was drinking and doing drugs to mask his emotions and that he had an “invisible injury.” But he relays that when he served in Afghanistan, where he was able to evade the media, and it was a relief.
Harry reflects on the loss of his mother Princess Diana in 1997, an event he says he wasn’t truly able to process until he started therapy four or five years ago. “Fine was the easy answer” to the question “How are you?,” he says of that time.
He also delves into his wife Meghan Markle’s suicidal thoughts while pregnant with their son Archie, explaining how he calmed her down, and how she powered through because she didn’t want Harry to lose another woman in his life.
What it all boils down to is this: 99.9% of us have or will experience trauma in our lifetimes, observes Harry. In other words: everyone.
Mental illness was only magnified by COVID-19 and the isolation we all experienced under lockdown. In a rare glimpse into our collective psyche, “The Me You Can’t See” leaves us with the grand takeaway that we’re all in this together, a refrain we heard consistently during COVID-19. This docu-series is a must-watch for anyone even remotely interested in speaking their emotions, ascertaining their truth, empathizing with others or understanding the deep complexities of the human condition.
Lead image courtesy of the Apple TV Youtube channel.