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In the long-awaited interview with Oprah, Markle shared intimate details about her mental health during her time as a member of the royal family.

By Elizabeth Bacharach
March 08, 2021
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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - SEPTEMBER 23: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex visits the District 6 Museum and Homecoming Centre during their royal tour of South Africa on September 23, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. District 6 was a former inner-city residential area where different communities and races lived side by side, until 1966 when the Apartheid government declared the area whites-only and 60,000 residents were forcibly removed and relocated. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Credit: Getty Images

During the interview between Oprah and the former Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle held nothing back — including the intimate details of her mental health during her time as a royal.

The former Duchess revealed to Oprah that although "everyone [in the royal family] welcomed [her]," life as part of the monarchy was incredibly lonely and isolating. So much so, in fact, that suicide became a "very clear and real and frightening and constant thought," Markle told Oprah.

"I was ashamed to say it at the time and ashamed to have to admit it to Harry. But I knew that if I didn't say it, then I would do it," Markle explained. "I just didn't want to be alive anymore."

As Markle explained in the interview (and the world saw in headlines), she quickly went from being seen as an exciting new member of the royal family to being portrayed as a controversial, polarizing presence. When opening up about the scrutiny she faced in the British media, Markle expressed to Oprah that she felt she was a problem for the royal family. As a result, she said she "thought [suicide] would solve everything for everyone." Markle said she ultimately went to the royal institution's human resources department for help, only to be told that there was nothing they could do because she was "not a paid member of the institution." Not only that, but Markle said she was told she couldn't seek help for her mental health because doing so "wouldn't be good for the institution." And so, in Markle's words, "Nothing was ever done."

Markle also recalled how difficult it was to hide her struggles with her mental health in the public eye. "We had to go to this event at the Royal Albert Hall after I told Harry I didn't want to be alive anymore," she told Oprah. "In the pictures, I see how tightly his knuckles are gripped around mine. We are smiling, doing our job. In the Royal Box, when the lights went off, I was just weeping."

Before sharing her experiences with suicidal thoughts, Markle revealed to Oprah that even at the beginning of her time as a royal, she suffered from serious loneliness. She said she wanted to go to lunch with her friends but was instead instructed by the royal family to lay low and was criticized for "being everywhere" in the media — even though, in reality, Markle said she'd been isolated inside, literally, for months.

"I have left the house twice in four months – I am everywhere but I am nowhere right now," she told Oprah of that time in her life. Everyone was concerned with the optics — how her actions might look — but, as Markle shared with Oprah, "has anyone talked about how it feels? Because right now I could not feel lonelier."

Loneliness is no joke. When experienced chronically, it can bring about severe repercussions. Feeling lonely can affect the activation of dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters that make you feel good) in your brain; as their activation slows down, you can begin to feel low, possibly depressed, or anxious. Simply put: loneliness can very much increase the risk for depression.

In Markle's case, loneliness seemed to be a major catalyst for the suicidal thoughts she said she experienced. Regardless of the exact circumstances, though, the point is that, as glamorous as someone's life may look on the surface, you simply never know what they could be struggling with internally. As Markle told Oprah: "You have no idea what's going on for someone behind closed doors. Have compassion for what's actually potentially going on."

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This story originally appeared on shape.com