Speaking out is so hard. As someone diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and has previously battled depression several times, I know how lost you can feel. How silenced you can feel. These are all my opinions, and how I felt in the aftermath of the words said on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
My experience and that of Meghan Markle are not at all the same. I cannot even fathom the pressure to save face she has had to endure. The comparisons to other members of the monarchy; the limited support throughout difficult times. Most of all, the racism she has experienced and lived through. These aren’t things I’ve encountered as a white woman or as a woman not married into the ‘Firm‘.
However, I do know how it feels to feel like you’re drowning, to feel so low that there are little options your brain considers to get you out. To have the ocean, which is your life, wrap its waves around you to pull you under. Your mind trying to steal your happy thoughts and any light from your world.
You can be screaming at the top of your lungs for help, but it can sound like a whisper to ears close by; you can be pleading on your knees, but people can make assumptions that stop you from asking again. Speaking about mental health or asking for help is hard; getting someone to listen and not jump to assumptions is hard. That, on top of not succumbing to the thoughts eating you from the inside out, is hard.
This is why fatigue is a common symptom of anxiety disorders and depression. This is why insomnia is a common side effect of both of these.
The fact of the matter is, when you’re drowning, it takes one person to help pull you out. But that one person has to be able to help.
Piers chose to say Meghan Markle was lying without knowing her experience. He disputed her suicidal thoughts saying, “I don’t believe a word she says”. Not only is he accusing someone who has bravely decided to speak out, but it is creating another narrative. One where people become fearful of speaking out. They don’t want to be ridiculed and don’t want to be told they’re lying.
Their brains do that enough.
Meghan and Harry went through that. They are the only people who know the extent of it. She knows she asked for help and was refused. Now, having spoken out, people are claiming she’s made it up. This is harmful and damaging to the experience she has had to endure for the sake of keeping face.
I don’t have a problem with free speech, but I have a problem with someone claiming someone is lying about their experience. Piers inferring Meghan’s suicidal thoughts are lies is not only damaging but disgusting. Especially as the platform he is speaking on is one in a campaign about speaking out.
The problem Piers won’t have considered the effect it has on those who watch him and are suffering. I have people close by to me who I know for a fact already don’t believe it when I’m struggling. They think I’m weak, dramatic, and crying for attention.
If I were in one of my darker moments and heard Piers words, I’d worry about speaking out. I’d worry others calling me a liar. Because when you’re depressed, struggling and feeling broken, those closest to you sound no different than those who are far away. His words can easily be thought of by someone you love. They can be thought over and over again when you go to sleep; they can become words you tell yourself as you come undone in empty rooms, and when everyone’s asleep.
Because when you’re in a black hole, like when you’re depressed, nothing is quite as it seems. You think things which aren’t true, like people don’t care about you and that you’re a disappointment.
Having those words on National Television, replayable on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, it becomes hard to tell yourself those words aren’t true. They form part of the narrative you begin telling yourself. They become a part of the negative spiral you’re trapped in. You feel like you’re slipping down further into the hole that is already impossible to climb out of.
There has been a quote going around the internet, and unfortunately, I don’t know where it began. But to paraphrase, it said, while Meghan may not see your comments, your friends who are struggling will.
I don’t think I can say anything better than this quote.
So, if you’re someone unsure if someone is lying about their mental health. Take a second and question how difficult it would be to come out and say that knowing people will think that. Imagine the strength it takes to get up, get dressed and prepare for battle against every opinion. How it feels to face every friendly face who doesn’t want to help and every single critic.
Then ask yourself if she’s lying.
As someone who has struggled, been clinically depressed, and so anxious they were afraid to leave the house, I can tell you she isn’t.
I can also tell you it’s much harder to speak out than for a grown man to talk about something he knows nothing about and then call someone else a liar.