I thought that Prince Harry’s interview this week with the Telegraph was very brave, moving and powerful. It was brave because many people don’t talk about their mental health issues. They neither deny that they have a problem – which is what Harry has now admitted to doing for 20 years, or they don’t want to say anything because they fear what others will say. Let’s look at the big Egyptian river first (De Nile/denial).
This happens a lot – especially in families where they have been taught you should keep the British “stiff upper lip” – which I can imagine might be the case with the older Royals. But it is rife everywhere. A friend of mines 15 year old daughter tried to commit suicide 2 years ago. She HAD actually told people how she felt and was getting help but clearly the help wasn’t helping. She is now talking more and hopefully, coping better.
But the point I am coming to here is that her little brother – aged 11 – was so terrified on the night, so shocked and so hurt – that he is now ‘doing a Harry’. He has cut off his emotions and is doing what he can to ‘protect’ himself from ever having to feel so scared again, by denying he has any emotions. I guess his internal dialogue – which he is probably not aware of – is ‘if I don’t let anyone close I can never be hurt’. Which may be true, but he will also not live fully. Of course, the adults in his life are aware of his situation and are working to be able to get him to a place where he feels OK to show his emotions again.
I hope so because as with Prince Harry, the only emotion that he can’t always control is anger. And that’s no way for anyone to live, let alone a child with so much potential.
But sometimes it is not that people are in denial. Sometimes they know they have a problem, and they don’t tell anyone. They don’t tell anyone for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t feel that they ‘should’ be having a problem, maybe they think they are ‘weak’ for not coping with stuff that everyone else seems to cope with so well – pressure of school or exams for example, or being a new Mum. Perhaps they are ashamed of having a mental health problem, because of messages they picked up from childhood that it wasn’t acceptable, or it caused others problems. Possibly they think they are going mad and they don’t want a diagnosis because then they will be classed as ‘mad’ and locked up, or sent away. Potentially they are in such a dark place that they genuinely feel that everyone would be better off without them.
Mental health issues can be fatal.
And that’s why what Harry did this week was so powerful. Because he was showing – look – this can happen to anyone and it IS ok to talk about it and it IS ok for you to ask for help. I think the charity that he, Prince William and Catherine have formed together #headstogether is a fantastic initiative. And, in the spirit of asking for help, they have not tried to do it alone but brought together a number of mental health charities including Mind, The Mix and Young Minds – to form a central pool of information, help and support for people with mental health problems arising from all sorts of circumstances – veterans, young people, new Mums, the homeless and just anyone who has any feelings they can’t cope with. Because you can’t do it alone. Hence the Charity name – Heads Together.
And it was also very moving what Harry did, because whatever his family or career situation, he is – like me, and you, just a human being. And at 12 – he was just a boy who lost his Mum in unexpected and tragic circumstances. No 12-year-old should have to deal with that. But many do. And it is OK to say – I feel sad, or I can’t cope, or I feel angry about what happened.
And here’s the thing……we ALL have mental health challenges. Every single one of us. Well, that is my belief anyway. Anyone who can say they have gone through life never feeling under a lot of stress, never having lost someone they love, never having had major disappointments through career, friends or family issues, never having to say good bye to a beloved pet, or suffered a major health challenge of their own or a loved ones. Well someone who has never experienced any of that is either a young child, or has not lived.
Not everyone goes into clinical depression after one of these challenges – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect their mental health at some level, and string a few of these challenges together and you have a recipe for mental health problems.
The point here is to talk, to seek help to understand that you are not alone and you don’t have to do it on your own. And if you understand that – then you can deal with your challenges. That doesn’t mean you won’t feel sad, angry, confused or even broken, for a while. What it does mean though, is that you will get through it, you will come out the other side stronger and you will find your new way of living.
If you or someone you know has serious mental health challenges I would urge you to go to your doctor, seek out a mental health professional or get in touch with one of the charities associated with Heads Together such as Mind, The Mix, Young Minds etc
If you don’t feel that you need that level of support but you do have challenges around dealing with disappointments or challenges then you can always talk to us. The purpose of our Find Your Why Foundation is to help you come out the other side of divorce, or redundancy, or kids leaving home, or anything else you may be struggling with – and to help you find your why. Why are you where you are now, and what is your purpose, where do you want your life to go now. Because quite often the 4 D’s are mistaken for a midlife crisis.
What are the 4 d’s Cheryl? I hear you ask. Well they are Divorce, Death, Disappointment and . These are common problems that happen at a certain age which could be classed as “mid life”, because they happen to a disproportionate number of people at that time. But they are all things that our program addresses. There IS help out there.
Because Prince Harry is right – you can’t figure it all out on your own and you shouldn’t and don’t have to do it alone. Click here to join us at the Find Your Why Facebook Page where you will meet out WHY’s women and men and learn how to Live Love and Laugh every day and continue to be you in your own unique way. Or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org with your biggest challenge or concern and I will come back to you personally.