The famous couple appeared on a previously-recorded episode of Teenager Therapy, a weekly series hosted by five teens from Anaheim, Calif., that the New York Times deemed a youth “lifeline” for its focus on mental health and other real-world matters. The Saturday episode can be heard on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.
Even before stepping down from royal life in January, the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex brought attention to mental health from co-launching the text messaging hotline Shout with Prince William and Kate Middleton to Harry’s HeadFIT initiative that provides self-help tools for military members and sharing online resources on Instagram for those feeling isolated during the coronavirus pandemic.
Now living in Santa Barbara, Calif., with their 1-year-old son Archie, the couple reflected on their tumultuous years in the spotlight. “I’m told that in 2019, I was the most trolled person in the entire world, male or female,” said Markle, 39. “Now, eight months of that, I wasn’t even visible. I was on maternity leave with the baby. But was able to just be manufactured and just churned out — it’s almost unsurvivable.”
She added, “If people are saying things about you that aren’t true, what that does to your mental and emotional health is so damaging.”
Aside from media coverage that fixated on her race and rumored family strife due to their royal exit, the highly-scrutinized couple has launched lawsuits against a celebrity photo agency for taking drone photos of Archie playing in his backyard and a British tabloid for publishing a letter Markle sent to her estranged father Thomas, who did not attend her 2018 wedding.
During the podcast, Markle insisted that while her life may not be relatable to everyone, “We all know what it feels like to have our feelings hurt … to be isolated or othered.”
When asked if the couple struggles with optimism, Harry answered, “…There are good days, there are bad days, but I think putting your self-care as a priority is hugely important — vulnerability is not a weakness, showing vulnerability in today’s world especially, is a strength.”
The pair encouraged people to share difficult feelings regardless of potential stigma. “Just the [words] mental health is really hard for people to say without feeling like that has some negative connotation,” said Markle. “Why don’t we just call it health?”
She also commented on a viral clip from the Oct. 2019 ITV documentary Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, in which she admitted vulnerability as a new mother and a newlywed. When the interviewer asked how she was doing, Markle held back tears. “Not many people have asked if I’m OK,” she answered.
That day, Markle shared, she was exhausted and Archie was due for his bath. “She was still breastfeeding at the time,” added Harry. Describing how returning home in between official engagements to nurse was like “running a marathon,” Markle said she didn’t realize her raw answer would evoke emotion from women around the world.
“I didn’t think about that answer — I just answered honestly,” she said on the podcast. “Because I was in a moment of vulnerability, because I was tired, because there was no presentation, it was just, here’s where I am.”
Asking for help is not a “burden” to others, they said, and listening to a problem can be more important than solving it. “In those moments, you have two options,” said Markle. “You can either try to break through or you can potentially break down. But use it as a moment to break through.”
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