What Mental Health Struggles Really Look Like

 Ah, this one has been burning me, so here I am.

This week, the headlines have been filled with talk of that interview. And I have thoughts. Two main themes came up from that interview: mental health and race. 

As a Black woman who deals with health anxiety, I'm sure you can see why all of this is particularly triggering. 

Much of the rhetoric that I'm seeing centres on an apparent betrayal of the Royal Family. And had you watched, you'd know that they didn't say anything disparaging about Her Majesty. Now, I'm no Royalist - for colonial-based reasons, so that's all I'll say on that. The Commonwealth wasn't a cute club people were asked to join. Do your Googles. 

My feelings on that aside, I've seen some disappointing and quite frankly concerning comments about how Meghan's 'acting' and how she couldn't possibly have felt suicidal because she managed to go out in public and is still alive today! 

So the reason some people need to have a word with themselves is this: there is no acceptable face of mental illness. 

It doesn't care who you are, what family you've married into, how much money you have, your circumstances, your job, your race, nothing! 

It would appear that some people aren't satisfied that someone is unwell until they see them literally crumble before their eyes. Now, I'm no Duchess but at its worst, my anxiety made me terrified of absolutely everything. And I mean everything. Leaving the house. Driving my car. Answering the phone. Everything. When your every waking thought is consumed by the thought that you're literally about to drop dead like mine were, it's frightening and lonely. 

Yet, I still managed to do many of the things that I was able to do before. It didn't make feeling the way that I did any less terrible. 

To look at me, you may not have known that I was struggling as much as I was. "Oh but Mel, you're so strong." "Oh my gosh, I'd never have known." 

Let me show you...

In this photo, I'm anxiety-free having the time of my life. 
Photo: Emily Smith 

 In this photo, I'd had a panic attack, less than two hours before...on stage, but you'd never have known
 | Photo: Ann Oqua

See a difference between those two photos? Aside from them being a year apart, in both of them, you'd think I was having a great time. 

The correct response to someone coming forward with their mental health struggles? Believe them. Support them. Because even if there's a chance that they aren't being truthful, is that a risk worth taking? 

It may seem acceptable to wave away Meghan's confession to feeling suicidal. You don't know her personally. She won't see your comments. But people in your real life will see your attitude. It doesn't take a lot of energy to meet people with compassion and actually listen to them. That's all a lot of your loved ones need. 

It's unsettling to see how eager people are to dismiss someone's choice to sit down and talk about their lived experience. Especially a mixed-race woman. It is glaringly obvious that race has played a part in how Meghan Markle has been treated by the British press. That's a conversation for another day because quite frankly, I am tired. 



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