Over the past several weeks, Prince Harry has spoken more candidly about his life than ever before. He opened up about going to therapy on the podcast Armchair Expert, and now, he's given more details about his mental health journey. In newly released episodes of the documentary series "The Me You Can’t See" that he co-produced with Oprah Winfrey, the prince touchingly reveals the internal struggles he endured following the death of his mother, Princess Diana: "28 to probably 32 was a nightmare time in my life," he said, revealing that he often experienced panic attacks and severe anxiety.
To cope with the immense loss of his mother and the anger he felt about the lack of justice served, Prince Harry revealed that he turned to drinking and drugs. "I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs," he said. "I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling," he said, adding that he'd often drink a week's worth in one day. "And I would find myself drinking not because I was enjoying it, but because I was trying to mask something."
Now, Prince Harry has left that side of him in the past — and he's been in therapy for four years now, dealing with his internal struggles and keeping his mental health in check. "Four years of therapy for an individual who thought they'd never do or need therapy, that's a long time," he said. "I wasn't in an environment where I was encouraged to talk about it either. That was sort of squashed."
His words echo something his wife, Meghan Markle, acknowledged during her March 2021 interview with Winfrey. In the conversation, she talked about her own struggles with mental health and suicidal ideation, and described how the royal family allegedly brushed aside her requests for help. "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 suffered," Markle told Winfrey. "But I knew that if I didn't say it 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."
Markle and her husband are being intentional about their decision to speak out now. Their goal is to increase awareness surrounding mental health. "One of the things that Prince Harry and I wanted was to have people understand that mental wellness, mental fitness, it's a spectrum, and that we're all on the spectrum," Winfrey said on Good Morning America earlier this week. "In the United States, specifically, one out of five people admit to some kind of mental health struggle. So that means everybody either is or knows somebody who is going through something."
Unfortunately, issues like anxiety, grief, and suicidal ideation can be stigmatized — but when well-known figures like Prince Harry or Markle speak out about their own experiences, it can go a long way toward breaking down that stigma and giving others who are going through the same thing a safe space to talk about it. For that reason, we'll keep listening.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.