Meghan Markle's struggle with her mental health echoes Princess Diana's experience

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meghan markle princess diana
Meghan Markle and Princess Diana. Samir Hussein/WireImage/Tim Graham Photo Library/Getty Images
  • Meghan Markle's mental health struggles are similar to Princess Diana's experiences.

  • Both Markle and Diana's accounts of these experiences helped to destigmatize mental illness.

  • Markle said she "could not feel lonelier," while Diana said her self-esteem was "at a low ebb."

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey first aired on CBS on Sunday, and one area in particular that seems to have resonated is Markle's struggle with mental health, not least because many people watched Princess Diana outline similar experiences 26 years ago.

In 1995, Diana undertook a similar sit-down interview with Martin Bashir for BBC Panorama where she spoke about her eating disorder, thoughts of harming herself, and how media disinformation was used to harm her reputation with the public.

During the two-hour CBS special, Markle said that she too experienced a decline in mental health, which led to suicidal thoughts for the first time in her life due to mistreatment from "the firm" and British tabloids.

Markle also told Winfrey that she sought help from Diana's friend, the only person who could understand her unique situation.

"One of the people I reached out to was one of my husband's mom's best friends, one of Diana's best friends," she told Winfrey, adding: "Because it's, like, who else could understand what it's actually like on the inside?"

Markle and Harry acknowledged the parallels between both women's experiences, with Harry saying his "biggest fear was history repeating itself," alluding to his mother's death in 1997.

Markle and Diana both reported feelings of loneliness after their marriages invited increased media attention

Markle told Winfrey she "could not feel lonelier" after relocating to the UK to begin a life of public service with Harry.

"I said: 'I have left the house twice in four months, I am everywhere but I am nowhere,'" she recalled telling a member of the royal family who told her to lay low and not have lunch with friends due to heightened media interest in her.

"I continued to say to people: 'I know there is an obsession with how things look, but has anyone talked about how it feels? Because right now I could not feel lonelier,'" she added, noting that Harry would often have to be away for work.

Diana had told Martin Bashir that she "very much so" experienced this media-induced isolation, saying: "I seemed to be on the front of a newspaper every single day, which is an isolating experience, and the higher the media put you, place you, is the bigger the drop."

She also said that Kensington palace itself was isolating "by nature."

Both women struggled with issues that they felt they needed to hide

After relentless negative media coverage, Markle said she began to experience regular suicidal thoughts while she was pregnant with Archie.

"I was ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry. But I knew that if I didn't say it - then I would do it," she told Winfrey.

"I just didn't want to be alive anymore," she added, recounting an instance in 2019 where she held back tears at a Royal Albert Hall event that she forced herself to attend with Harry so that she would not alone with her dark thoughts.

Much like Meghan, Diana also told Bashir she "never had had a depression in my life." She said her difficult pregnancy led to feelings of post-natal depression, which later affected her eating patterns.

Diana opened up about bulimia, saying: "I had bulimia for a number of years. And that's like a secret disease."

"You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low ebb, and you don't think you're worthy or valuable," she said.

Neither of them felt supported by the royal family

Both women said that mental health was not taken seriously by "the firm" or by palace staff.

Markle said she went to the royal family's human resources department and told them she needed help, but was turned down because of how it might look and due to the nature of her rank.

She added that she was told: "My heart goes out to you because I see how bad it is, but there's nothing we can do to protect you because you're not a paid employee of the institution."

Diana felt that the stigma around mental health issues drove the narrative about her. "I was crying out for help but giving the wrong signals, and people were using my bulimia as a coat on a hanger: they decided that was the problem - Diana was unstable," she told Bashir.

When Bashir asked her if she ever sought "help from any other members of the royal family," she told him she didn't due to feelings of shame.

"You have to know that when you have bulimia you're very ashamed of yourself and you hate yourself, so - and people think you're wasting food - so you don't discuss it with people," she told him.

With both his mother and wife affected by mental health struggles, relevant causes have remained a priority for Harry over the years. Despite stepping back as a senior royal, the duke will continue to be a patron of Heads Together charity and he is currently working alongside Winfrey on a series of documentaries for Apple centered on mental health and wellness.

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has had thoughts of harming themselves or taking their own life, get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7, free, confidential support for people in distress, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to aid in prevention and crisis situations.

Read the original article on Insider