Prince Harry Opened Up About the "Panic Attacks, Severe Anxiety" He Had As a Senior Royal
"So [age] 28 to probably 32 was a nightmare time in my life, freaking out."
Prince Harry gets very candid and real about his struggle with mental health.
The Duke of Sussex is speaking openly about his journey with mental health during his emotional interview in the new AppleTV+ docuseries The Me You Can't See, co-created with Oprah Winfrey. Harry reveals that he has been in therapy for four years "to heal myself from the past."
He 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."
A lot of his mental health challenges came after the death of his mother Princess Diana in 1997 when he was only 12 years old at the time. He reveals that when he was struggling during his late childhood, teen years, and twenties that he "wasn't in an environment where it was encouraged to talk about it either, that was sort of, like, squashed." So he had to just put his "head in the sand and just crack on," as he tells Winfrey.
"If people said, 'how are you?' I'd be like 'fine.' Never happy. Never sad, just fine," he said. "Fine was the easy answer. But I was all over the place mentally." He also shares that he has struggled with severe anxiety and panic attacks while trying to perform is royal duties.
"Every time I put a suit and tie on and having to do the role and sort of like go, let's go," he reveals. "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 continues, "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. But I slowly became aware that, okay, I wasn't drinking Monday to Friday, but I would probably drink a week's worth in one day on a Friday or a Saturday night. And I would find myself drinking, not because I was enjoying it but because I was trying to mask something."
"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."
During the first episode of the series, the Duke talks about his mother's death and funeral when he and older brother Prince William, who was 15 at the time, had to join their father Prince Charles and grandfather Prince Philip and uncle Charles, Earl Spencer in walking behind their mother's casket.
"For me, the thing I remember the most was the sound of the horse's hooves going along the Mall, the red brick road. By this point, both of us were in shock. It was like I was outside of my body," he says before adding. "I'm just walking along and doing what was expected of me, showing the one-tenth of the emotion that everybody else was showing."
He also opened up about watching his mother struggle throughout his life and feeling "helpless" not knowing how to help her.
"I always wanted to be normal, as opposed to being Prince Harry, just being Harry. It was a puzzling life and, unfortunately, when I think about my mum the first thing that comes to mind is always the same one, over and over again," he says. "Strapped in the car, seatbelt across. My brother in the car as well, and my mother driving and being chased by three, four, five mopeds with paparazzi on.
"She was almost unable to drive because of the tears, there was no protection. One of the feelings that come up is helplessness. Being too young, being a guy, too young to be able to help a woman, in this case, your mother. And that happened every single day until the day she died."
The Me You Can't See premieres today, Friday, May 21, on Apple TV+. In addition to Gaga, Glenn Close, the NBA's DeMar DeRozan and Langston Galloway, and Olympic Boxer Virginia "Ginny" Fuchs are set to appear on the show.
If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text Crisis Text Line at 741-741.