"It was 20 years of not thinking about it and two years of total chaos".
To see Prince Harry, the son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, on the front pages of the newspapers is nothing new. He's regularly featured - be it at a royal event, a jubilee celebration or alongside a potential love interest.
But an interview he's given to the Telegraph newspaper is something never done by a British Royal before. Prince Harry - seen as a strong, masculine, army-serving twenty-something - has opened up about his mental health, speaking candidly about seeking counselling following the tragic death of his mother.
For many people, it comes as a shock to hear someone so privileged, wealthy and royal could have anything but a perfect life. We look at the lives of others - be it on their Instagram feeds or on reality TV shows - and imagine they live in a perfect world. We never imagine that they could have the same struggles, thoughts and feelings as ourselves.
Yet we are all human. Absolutely every single one of us is in the same boat - we all suffer from low points, and we all enjoy happier times.
There is no person on this planet who does not suffer from times of depression, unhappiness and despair - so why do we feel we have to conceal and hide it? It's a simple fact that if you're experiencing a feeling of loneliness, unhappiness or despair, there's going to be thousands if not millions of other people going through the same thing. So why do we all suffer in silence? Why don't we speak out and change lives?
For so many years, openness has been seen as a weakness. People feel a constant need to 'Keep up Appearances', to ensure they appear to be competent and that they are a success at all times. We seem to have this idea that the only way to be this 'success' is to be happy and healthy 100% of the time. Yet this is simply not possible - human life is not a song and a dance, but more of a roller coaster ride. And that's what makes life worth living.
There's a wonderful quote attributed to the Buddha which states that "Let yourself be open and life will be easier". By being open and being authentic, we can feel in touch with who we really are. We can feel real, genuine and that we are actually living our lives. We shouldn't spend our life suppressing feelings and trying to look like we're having a good time - instead, you can make room to fully experience those feelings, stop feeling ashamed of ourselves and then really enjoy life.
And of course, it's not just you who benefits from openness. Whilst being open lifts the stress, pressure, shame and burden from you, the benefits it provides others are endless too. There are seven billion of us on this planet - you cannot be the only one going through certain feelings of loneliness, depression, unhappiness or despair. If you're experiencing it, then millions of other people are too.
By opening up yourself, you can help to inspire and empower others around you in the same position. You can actually change lives, helping people to see that they are not alone, that everything will be ok and that they can get help. You could, quite literally, save lives, simply though speaking out and sharing your story.
Mental Health is still surrounded by far too much stigma. We need to see a transformation in our culture to ensure that seeking counselling, going through a difficult time or dealing with mental illness is not surrounded by secrecy and shame. Prince Harry has taken an extraordinarily positive and powerful first step in fighting the stigma around mental health, showing that openness is a strength and not a weakness.
It's time to talk, it's time to be open and it's time to embrace who we are.Suggest a correction