Princess Diana’s Mental Health Struggles Revealed In Rare Interviews

By Kelly Burch 08/23/17

"I was in such a bad way. Couldn't sleep, didn't eat, the whole world was collapsing around me."

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She struggled too

Nearly 20 years after her sudden death, new information has been released showing that Princess Diana struggled with mental health issues and an eating disorder even while she was the face of poise and grace in the global spotlight.

The revelations were made in National Geographic’s new documentary, Diana: In Her Own Words. In the documentary, recordings of interviews that Diana gave in 1991 show how troubled the princess was.

Diana spoke about her long struggle with bulimia, which she says began after Prince Charles commented on her weight.

"The bulimia started the week after we got engaged. My husband put his hand on my waistline and said something like, 'Oh, a bit chubby here, aren't we?' And that triggered off something in me. I remember the first time I made myself sick, I was so thrilled,” she said, according to Elle.

Diana went on to say that she was bulimic throughout both of her pregnancies with Prince William and Prince Harry. At one point, she had lost a significant amount of weight. "I'd shrunk into nothing,” she said.

Diana and Charles were married on July 29, 1981, and by October of that year the princess was already struggling with her mental health and even considering suicide.

"I was about to cut my wrists. I was in a very bad way. I came [back to London] to seek treatment. I was in such a bad way. Couldn't sleep, didn't eat, the whole world was collapsing around me,” she said. “All the analysts and psychiatrists you can ever dream of came plodding in. Tried to sort me out. Put me on high doses of Valium."

However, Diana said she knew that prescriptions were not the answer. "It was me telling them what I needed. They were telling me, 'Pills.' But the Diana that was still very much there decided that it was just time, patience, and adapting that was all that was needed,” she said.

Like many people who struggle with mental health, Diana found ways to appreciate the small things and use them to keep herself going. One time a great haircut was enough to shift her perspective temporarily. "I suddenly felt so much stronger, mentally and physically, so I was able to soldier on,” she said.

Even two decades after her death, Diana is still having an impact on mental health. Her sons, along with Duchess Kate Middleton, launched a mental health initiative earlier this year.

"There are times when, whoever we are, it is hard to cope with challenge—and when that happens being open and honest and asking for help is life-changing," Prince William said in a news conference announcing the initiative. "Talking to someone else is a positive and confident step to take, but for too long it has been a case of ‘Keep Quiet and Carry On.’ As a result, too many people have suffered in silence for too long, and the effects of this can be devastating.”

Prince Harry has also recently opened up about his own mental health struggles stemming from his mother’s death. In an interview with the Mad World podcast earlier this year, Harry said that he shut down all his emotions after Diana’s death, even when his brother pushed him to get help.

“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and sort of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle,” said Harry.

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.