He held it all in and tried different ways like counseling and boxing to cope with his bottled up feelings. It took him a long time to come to terms with his grief and now he is a champion for others suffering from mental health issues.
He was just a little boy when he lost his mother. Prince Harry has earned a reputation for being a jovial prankster and a people's person, but behind that cheerful face is someone who has battled a lot of emotional turmoil. He has had to deal with his own emotional demons for more than two decades since he lost his mother at the age of 12. As a father now, he wants to create a world for future generations where people can be forthright when going through a hard time. So, he opened up about his personal struggles when he was attempting to cope with loss.
He disclosed to the Telegraph that he sought professional help and went to counseling after going through two years of "total chaos" in the late twenties. He was still grappling with losing his mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. In the interview, he revealed how he had “shut down all his emotions” for close to twenty years even though his brother, Prince William, tried to advise him to seek help.
He also said that he addressed his grief in earnest at the age of 28 after feeling “on the verge of punching someone” and facing anxiety while performing his royal duties.
“I just couldn’t put my finger on it," he said, according to Forbes. "I just didn’t know what was wrong with me.” When he was 32, he said that he had been “very close to total breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and lies and misconceptions are coming to you from every angle.” With the help of counselors and practicing boxing, he said he was in "a good place."
He had been experiencing aggression and turned to boxing to let off steam at others' advice. “And that really saved me because I was on the verge of punching someone, so being able to punch someone who had pads was certainly easier," he said.
In those four years since he first went to counseling, he learned many insights into his emotional health. “I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well,” he told the interviewer. “I thought that thinking of her was only going to make me sad and not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was, like, ‘Right, don’t ever let your emotions be part of anything.'”
He has some real advice for people going through grief of their own. "Look, you really need to deal with this. It is not normal to think that nothing has affected you," he said. He feels he can put “blood, sweat and tears” into making a difference for others. “The experience I have had is that once you start talking about it, you realize that actually you’re part of quite a big club,” he said.
He was also honest about the mental pressures that come with humanitarian work. His days are emotionally fraught because of the nature of his work. He is often interacting with people who have or are going through struggles of their own, in different ways.
“In the morning, I spoke to one girl who had tried to commit suicide, met another guy suffering so bad from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) that he was shaking, blinking and unable to make conversation with me and another one who had tinnitus from a practice grenade, which means he has to go to bed with a speaker on, otherwise it’s ringing in his ears all night. Then in the afternoon I was at a Wellchild event meeting terminally sick children and talking to their parents. I was just, like, ‘Aargh!’ You park your own issues because of what you’re confronted with," he added.
His elder brother, Prince William, has been equally aware and supportive of raising awareness about mental health illnesses. “Catherine and I are clear that we want both George and Charlotte to grow up feeling able to talk about their emotions and feelings," Prince William had said before the birth of his youngest child.