Royal Reveal: Why I Believe the Duchess has Depression

I’m a little late to Duchess Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, and Oprah party.

In a house where Minnie Mouse Bow-tique reigns supreme, there’s little time for any uninterrupted viewing of adult television. As I waited for that unicorn moment when both children would be fast asleep, and there would be no major sporting event on TV for my husband to watch, I ended up scrolling my Facebook feed, and saw a considerable amount of attention being paid to mental health, specifically, the Duchess and her battle with depression. Many were baffled at how someone of her stature could possibly have anything to be depressed about. That argument, and more specifically, my opposition to it, is what ultimately drove me to watch an interview I normally wouldn’t have thought twice about.

Here’s the thing about depression. It can strike anyone at any time for any reason. The reason doesn’t even have to make sense. Or maybe the reason is, there is no reason at all. {Good luck trying to explain that one to people in your inner circle…it’s exhausting.}

Depression can look like a Duchess living in a palace, or the mom living next door.

duchess in a castleIt can happen over country club dinners or rationed portions of ramen. It happens to people with overflowing bank accounts, or no bank accounts at all. You can be draped in the finest clothing and jewels, or stuff you snagged off the sales rack at Target.

That’s just the thing. Depression doesn’t care. It doesn’t care who you are – duchess or homeless – what you drive, how much money you have, or what you have going on in your life. It doesn’t matter if you just got married, just had a baby, landed your dream house, or got that promotion you’ve been eyeing. Yes, depression has a way of arriving uninvited to some of life’s biggest celebrations. It rains on literally every parade and couldn’t care less if you have an umbrella.

There’s the immobilizing, can’t-get-out-of-bed, crying-all-day, eat-every-last-feeling depression, and then there’s the highly-functioning, wake-up-in-the-morning, squeeze-in-a-workout, get-the-kids-ready-for-school, go-to-work-with-a-smile-on-your-face depression. It can strike all of us – duchess or not.

It’s the universe’s consummate chameleon, a mental health weed that is both pervasive and unrelenting. And since there’s this big social stigma surrounding mental health, it isn’t talked about in the day-to-day as often as it should be {unless it’s tied to school shootings, mass murders, and other social outliers, but that’s a story for a different day}.

You may not see it in the eyes of your neighbor as she waves to you and smiles from the confines of her minivan. She may not open up to you about it. Like the duchess, she may put on a brave face for the world, and bury that part of her out of sheer exhaustion, or embarrassment, or fear…but it’s there. It’s on your street, at your child’s school, in the office, and yes, even balancing the crown of one of the world’s most elite monarchies.

It takes great courage to embrace that corner of your soul once you identify it, as the duchess mentioned in her interview. It takes even more courage to openly admit that it’s there and face the scrutiny of the world around you. So if someone feels comfortable enough around you to unmask that part of themselves, believe them. Don’t question their authenticity, or their motives…question what you can do to help.

And please, if someone comes out on the world stage to say they’re battling depression, give that total stranger, who you only know through media portrayals, the benefit of the doubt. Showing that you believe them creates a safe space, making you an ally to people you do know who are suffering all around you. It leaves the door open for your own children to approach you should they need to.

It paves the way for future conversations, increasing transparency and thereby creating a much clearer picture of how widespread depression truly is…from a Duchess living in the castles of England…to the author of this post.

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