By Heidi Hamm
He is our favorite royal bachelor. He is gorgeous, charming and has a bit of a bad boy reputation. And he believes in the importance of communication. He may be the most perfect man on the planet.
In a candid podcast with The Telegraph, Prince Harry gets real about the effect his mother’s death in a car accident had on him.
“I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he tells journalist Bryony Gordon.
Losing a parent is difficult at any age. Losing a parent as a child is a whole other monster.
“My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?”
He spent years living with unprocessed grief and rage, which finally culminated in “two years of total chaos” in his late twenties. At the encouragement of his brother, Prince William, and others to seek counseling, he finally reached a turning point. He realized that he needed to open up and start the conversation in order to deal with the issues he had buried with his mother.
He said, “The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realize that actually you’re part of quite a big club.”
It’s nice to know that even royalty are human beings just like the rest of us (except for the whole living in a castle with servants part). By normalizing his own mental health issues, he is helping all of us commoners to know that we are not alone in our struggles.
One of the greatest lessons he has learned?
“I know there is huge merit in talking about your issues and the only thing about keeping it quiet is that it’s only ever going to make it worse.”
In addition to seeking out “shrinks” to help him talk through his grief, he also turned to boxing.
“During those years I took up boxing, because everyone was saying boxing is good for you and it’s a really good way of letting out aggression. And that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier.”
And probably smarter. Just saying.
Along with his brother, Prince William, and sister-in-law, Princess Kate, Harry is working to change the stigma that surrounds mental health sufferers with their charity, Heads Together. It focuses on promoting mental well-being and breaking down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help.
Prince Harry stated, “What we are trying to do is normalize the conversation to the point where anyone can sit down and have a coffee and just go ‘you know what, I’ve had a really shit day, can I just tell about it?’ Because then you walk away and it’s done.”
Did I mention he may just be the most perfect man on the planet?
Living with mental health issues can be debilitating and affect all aspects of your life, and yet so many people suffer in silence, afraid of being judged. Afraid to seek help.
Prince Harry is a testament to the power of speaking up and seeking counseling and is now in a “good place.”
“Because of the process I have been through over the past two and a half years, I’ve now been able to take my work seriously, been able to take my private life seriously as well, and been able to put blood, sweat and tears into the things that really make a difference and things that I think will make a difference to everybody else.”
The thing is, mental health issues can affect anyone, including princes. The more conversations we have and the more awareness we raise foster positive changes in the way that sufferers are perceived. And this is great news for everyone touched by mental health challenges, which, let’s face is, is almost all of us.
About the Author
Heidi Hamm is a writer, wife and mom of 6-year-old twin boys with the alter egos of the Hulk and Spiderman and their 8-year-old sister, who is in training to rule a small (or large) country someday. She has been published on Sammiches and Psych Meds, Scary Mommy and Mamalode. You can also find her on Facebook.