Prince Harry said he turned alcohol and drugs to cope with a ‘nightmare’ time in his life
Spoiler alert: The following contains details from the mental health series “The Me You Can’t See,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Prince Harry in his new series “The Me You Can’t See,” produced alongside Oprah Winfrey, shares details of his struggles with mental health. He reveals he is triggered by London, where his mother Princess Diana died, and in the past he’s leaned on drugs and alcohol to cope. He also shared that it was his wife Meghan who pushed him to begin therapy.
The Duke of Sussex and celebrated talk show host serve as executive producers of the five-part Apple TV+ series and have conversations about their own experiences throughout the episodes. The series also features news-magazine style pieces that profile celebrities like Lady Gaga, Glenn Close and the son of the late comic Robin Williams, mental health advocate Zak Williams.
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Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, at a taping of the "Vax Live" fundraising concert in Inglewood, Calif. on May 2, 2021. (Photo: VALERIE MACON, AFP via Getty Images)
In the series’ second episode, Harry says he knew if he didn’t go to a therapist, he would lose Meghan, whom he wed in 2018.
“When she said, ‘I think you need to see someone,’ it was in reaction to an argument that we had,” Harry remembers. “And in that argument, not knowing about it, I reverted back to 12-year-old Harry,” the age he was when his mother, Princess Diana, died as a result of a 1997 car crash in Paris.
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In the show’s premiere, Harry says he was enraged by the circumstances of his mother’s death and “the fact that there was no justice, at all.” “The same people that chased her into the tunnel photographed her dying on the backseat of that car,” he says.
The 36-year-old royal coped by not thinking or talking about his mother, as he didn’t see the point if he couldn’t change the past. But as he grew older, he was “just all over the place mentally.”
Harry speaks of experiencing panic attacks and severe anxiety. He describes the years from 28 to 32 as “a nightmare time in my life.”
Harry said he leaned on alcohol and drugs to dull the pain.
“I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling,” he says.
Slowly, Harry began to take note of his weekend binge-drinking. “I would find myself drinking not because I was enjoying it, but because I was trying to mask something,” he says.
In the docuseries, Harry shows viewers the experience of using EMDR therapy to address the discomfort he feels when he flies into London, which he said reminds him of the loss of his mother. Harry says he feels nervous, tense and hollowed out. He thinks of being “hunted,” “helpless” and as though “there is no escape.”
Harry says addressing his trauma was essential both for his own well-being and the health of his relationship with his wife, the Duchess of Sussex.
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“One of the biggest lessons that I’ve ever learned in life is you’ve sometimes got to go back and to deal with really uncomfortable situations and be able to process it in order to be able to heal,” he says.
In Episode 2, Harry revisits the evening he and Meghan spent at London’s Royal Albert Hall, shortly after his wife, then pregnant with their first child, shared she was having suicidal thoughts. (The duchess first opened up about her suicidal ideation in the couple’s sit-down with Oprah, which aired on CBS in March.)
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Prince Harry says that Duchess Meghan's suggestion he look into therapy convinced him to see someone. (Photo: BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Harry felt “sorry for (Meghan), but I’m also really angry with myself that we’re stuck in this situation. I was ashamed that it got this bad. I was ashamed to go to my family, because, to be honest with you, like a lot of other people my age could probably relate to, I know that I’m not gonna get from my family what I need.”
The fear of losing Meghan and raising Archie alone weighed heavily in his decision to make his royal exit.
“That was one of the biggest reasons to leave, feeling trapped and feeling controlled through fear both by the media and by the system itself, which never encouraged the talking about this kind of trauma,” he says. “But certainly now I will never be bullied into silence.”
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