Meghan: I’ve been called crazy and hysterical
The Duchess of Sussex has spoken about how she and other women are called “crazy and hysterical” to “minimise” their problems.
Meghan, 41, was talking to celebrity guests in the latest episode of her podcast, called Archetypes.
She told listeners: “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been called crazy or hysterical, or what about nuts? Insane, out of your mind, completely irrational, OK? You get the point.
“Now, if we were all in the same room and could see each other, I think it would be pretty easy to see. Just how many of us have our hands up? By the way, me too.”
Her guests on episode four included Indian actress Deepika Padukone, American comedian Jenny Slate and American actress Constance Wu.
Meghan added: “Calling someone crazy or hysterical completely dismisses their experience and minimises what they’re feeling.
“It keeps going to the point where anyone who’s been labelled it enough times can be gaslit into thinking that they’re actually unwell or sometimes worse, to the point where real issues of all kinds get ignored. Well, that’s not happening today.
“I feel pretty strongly about this word, this label ‘crazy’, the way that it’s thrown around so casually and the damage – it’s rotten (for) society and women, frankly everywhere.
“From relationships to families being shattered, the reputations destroyed and careers ruined. The stigma surrounding the word, it also has this silencing effect.
“This effect, women experiencing real mental health issues, they get scared, they stay quiet, they internalise, and they repress for far too long.”
She also said she finds it difficult to cry as she is “conditioned” to have a certain “kind of composure” but she wants to “let it out”.
Bollywood star Padukone also detailed her own mental health struggles and how she ended up in a “dark place”.
“You just feel hopeless,” the 36-year-old said. “(There is this) feeling of emptiness and hollowness and hopelessness.”
She got help after talking to a family friend who was a counsellor, and set up a foundation called Live Love Laugh to help those living with mental issues.
Meghan responded, saying that, when she was at her “worst point”, her husband, Harry, made a mental health referral for her.
She said: “My husband had found a referral for me to call. And I called this woman, and she didn’t even know I was calling her … and she was checking out at the grocery store.
“I could hear the little beep, beep … She could hear the dire state that I was in.”
“But I think it’s for all of us to be really honest about what it is that you need and to not be afraid and make peace with that, to ask for it.”
The duchess cited the word hysteria coming from the Greek for womb, saying: “Plato himself was actually amongst the Greek philosophers who believed that the womb would travel around the body adding pressure to other organs, which would then lead to erratic and unreliable behaviour.
“By the way, the DSM – the book to diagnose mental disorders – hysteria was an actual medical diagnosis until 1980.”
Slate said: “Hysteria, craziness, like it’s a disease of the people with the uteri, like, the people with the emotions.
“It is a definition created by a man. It is a definition meant to shame and limit a certain type of experience.”
Meghan is said to have been inspired by her podcast to launch a fund to “empower young adults” with a million-dollar (£896,000) scheme to support women in need.
It was announced last week that she and the Duke of Sussex are involved in the charitable project inviting 14 to 18-year-olds in the US to give a 1,000-dollar (£896) grant to a woman of their choice.
The scheme, in partnership with The Ving Project, aims to spark the next generation of philanthropists.