Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: 'I just didn't want to be alive anymore'

It's easy to judge others when we really have no clue what's going on in their lives. And, when you hear about someone who has considered suicide, it's easy to think, "But...your life isn't so bad." 

But that's the thing. You can be beautiful, famous and have a supportive and loving partner by your side, and still want to die. Because depression is a mental illness, and, just like any other illness, it can happen to anyone.

I recently attended an American Heart Association fundraiser, and TV personality Layla Lazareth, who emceed the event, said, "If you have a heart, you can get heart disease." Well, the same can be said about mental illness — if you have a brain, you can get a mental illness.

People once said that Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, lived a fairy tale life. But Sunday, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, for the first time Meghan publicly talked about her thoughts of suicide. And while many dream of fame or marrying a literal Prince Charming, the effects of royal life — the isolation, the loneliness and the pressure of living under a microscope — were some of the things that led Meghan to want to end her life. 

"I was really ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry especially because I know how much loss he's suffered, but I knew if I didn't say it that I would do it," Meghan said in the interview. "I just didn't want to be alive anymore. That was a very clear and real and frightening constant thought." 

After first telling her husband about these feelings, she went to the monarchic institution, telling them that she needed help. For anyone who has ever bravely come forward to seek help, we know the fear and vulnerability that comes with it. And the response Meghan received was what we all fear — being turned away instead of supported. 

"I went to the institution ... one of the most senior people ... and I said I needed to go somewhere to get help and that I've never felt this way before. I was told that I couldn't, that it wouldn't be good for the institution," Meghan said. 

She wanted to check herself into the hospital, but there was no way she could without the institution's permission. When she became part of the Royal family, she had to turn over her driver's license and keys, so it's not like she could drive herself. 

Meghan said she begged for help, reaching out to anyone she thought would listen. She went to Human Resources, telling them she was concerned for her mental welfare —  but was told there was nothing they could do because she wasn't a paid employee of the institution. So she pretended to be happy, all the while feeling like she was drowning. 

"I couldn't be left alone," she said with tears in her eyes. "That's what's important for people to remember: You have no idea what's going on for someone behind closed doors — even the people who smile the biggest smiles and shine the brightest light."

Meghan said that it takes a lot of courage to admit that you need help when you're in a dark place. In the end, Harry and Meghan walking away from their royal duties saved her life. And that's something we can all learn from. 

If something or someone is affecting your mental health, you need to walk away. You need to do what's right for you. You need to find the people who do support you and walk away from the people who don't. And you need to remember that, just because some people may turn you away, maybe even your own family, that doesn't mean you should give up. Because there are so many more people out there who do understand and who want to help. 

"My hope for people, in the takeaway from this, is to know that there's another side and to know that life is worth living," said Meghan.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255. Oakland County residents can call Common Ground's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-231-1127.

Click here to watch the full interview, and stay tuned later this year for an Apple TV+ docuseries abut mental health, created by Prince Harry and Oprah.

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