Prince Harry Opened Up About Panic Attacks, Severe Anxiety & Therapy
Britain’s Prince Harry launches his new career as a Hollywood producer on Friday, which aims to take away the stigma around mental health. Prince Harry opened up about panic attacks, severe anxiety, and therapy on a new Apple TV docuseries “The Me You Can’t See” in partnership with Oprah Winfrey. They discussed mental health, addiction, and trauma. Prince Harry shed light on his hardships stemming from the sudden death of his mother Princess Diana, but this time, it wasn’t a tell-all interview. “It wouldn’t have been fair of us to ask people to put themselves out there, to be vulnerable, to share their story if we weren’t willing to do the same,” Harry said in an interview with Reuters before the series launch.
Prince Harry’s Focus on Mental Health
Back in 2019, Kensington Palace announced that Prince Harry was partnering with Oprah Winfrey on a documentary series about mental health on which they will both serve as co-creators and executive producers. According to a statement released by the Palace in April 2019, “The multi-part documentary series will focus on both mental illness and mental wellness, inspiring viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces, and how to equip ourselves with the tools to thrive, rather than to simply survive.”
With Prince Harry’s new position at the mental health-focused startup Better Up, as Cherf Impact officer, he is continuing to focus on two things that defined his work as a royal: mental health and mental health stigma.
The series is part of Prince Harry’s larger focus on mental health, both in supporting programs that assist with mental health concerns and in helping to reduce the stigma surrounding the issue. “Our hope is that this series will be positive, enlightening, and inclusive – sharing global stories of unparalleled human spirit fighting back from the darkest places and the opportunity for us to understand ourselves and those around us better. I am incredibly proud to be working alongside Oprah on this vital series which we have been developing together for several months.”
Others taking part in mental health documentary with Oprah include actress Glenn Close, Lady Gaga, who recalls being raped during her early years in the music industry, as well as boxer Virginia Fuchs, Syrian refugee kids, and people with issues ranging from schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to depression and addiction. “It wouldn’t have been fair of us to ask people to put themselves out there, to be vulnerable, to share their story if we weren’t willing to do the same,” Harry said in an interview with Reuters ahead of the series launch.
The challenges followed the death of his mother.
Prince Harry detailed the emotional and explicit aftermath of his mother, Princess Diana’s death in the new docuseries The Me You Can’t See. His challenges followed the death of his mother, Princess Diana, in 1997. Harry, who was just 12 years old at the time, says that during his childhood, teen years, and twenties, “I wasn’t in an environment where it was encouraged to talk about it either, that was sort of, like, squashed.”
In addition to feeling immense grief and bottling up his feelings, Harry revealed that in the wake of his mother’s death he suffered from severe panic attacks,compulsive drinking and drug use. “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,” Prince Harry said.
“Every time I put a suit and tie on and having to do the role and sort of like go, let’s go. Before I even left the house, I was pouring with sweat, my heart rate was . . . I was in fight or flight mode. Panic attacks, severe anxiety . . . So [age] 28 to probably 32 was a nightmare time in my life, freaking out,” he admits.
“People who are hurt, understandably hurt, from their upbringing, their environment, what’s happened to them, what they’ve been exposed to, what they’ve seen — whatever it is — if you don’t transform, if you don’t process it, then it ends up coming out and in all sorts of different ways and you can’t control,” he says.
Amid the emotional turmoil, Harry found normalcy in the military. “The happiest times in my life was the ten years in the army,” he says. In Afghanistan, he was just like everybody else and away from media scrutiny. “There was no special treatment because of who I was. That was where I felt my most normal.“
Harry has now been in therapy for four years.
Prince Harry opened up about the path that led him to take therapy and spoke openly about his panic attacks, mental health journey, addiction, and his mother’s death.
Harry, who has now been in therapy for four years, hopes that “The Me You Can’t See” makes people feel less alone in their struggles. “The majority of us carry some form of unresolved trauma, loss, or grief, which feels—and is—very personal,” he previously said. “Yet the last year has shown us that we are all in this together, and my hope is that this series will show there is power in vulnerability, connection in empathy, and strength in honesty.”
Get help now
Prince Harry says his wife, Meghan Markle, was the one who encouraged him to get help. “I saw doctors, I saw therapists, I saw alternative therapists. I saw all sorts of people,” he explained. But 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.”It is essential to talk about mental health problems, and we always say, “Get the help you need.” But there are always delays between talking about it and getting the help you need.
Prince Harry’s meaningful interview would add to people’s well-being. Some people have been critical, but there is no good time to talk about mental health. It is his first significant movement in shaping a global conversation about mental health and massive stigma.
There is a massive pressure for people not to talk about mental health and hide it. We have got to applaud Harry for talking about his mental health issues; he is really changing things by having these conversations so publicly. He is encouraging other people to do the same as well.
Published: May 22, 2021
Last Updated: June 15, 2021
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