I’ll admit I was a bit jet-lagged. I’d been called back from a family holiday in Canada to do the first major TV interview with the Prince since his revelations about not coping with grief after the death of Diana.
But I got a wee bit misty-eyed hearing him talk about why he, William and Kate were trying to ‘smash the stigma’ on mental health. Having him open up about his own struggles has made a huge difference to the acceptability of talking about emotional issues. Here’s what he said:
“Your Mum would be proud of you and your brother,” I said. Yes, he said, but proud of you too, opening up about your own issues and agreeing to run 26.2 miles for us, to raise awareness. Because the chat was meant to be about him and the other runners, not me, I cut that bit out of the final interview (it’s on my Twitter page). But it summed him up for me – self-deprecating, deeply committed, very generous, a game-changer. A bit of a legend, really (and a lovely hugger). Here’s Harry giving me my running number:
There’ll be more than 700 runners for Heads Together on Sunday and all of us are doing it in the hope it’ll send a message to Britain and beyond – that it’s ok to say “I need help”.
Most of the 50,000 runners setting off at 10am in London this weekend, have found marathon training physically and emotionally very tough. Whenever I lace up my trainers, I’m thinking about how far I’ve come from two years ago, when I had breast cancer and every day seemed like a marathon. Those of you living with the experience of cancer will know what that’s like. I’m grateful to be one of the lucky ones.
My lovely brother-in-law Martin, who I wrote about in my book Rise, died recently. His attitude to life and death was extraordinary. He never once complained (apart from chemo taking away his appetite) and told me to live and love every day. He’ll be in my thoughts when I run. He’ll help me not to listen to the chimp in my brain that tells me my body has let me down before and will do so again. That I’ll collapse and embarrass everyone, including the Royals. That I can’t do it. Because I can. We can. Even if we walk or crawl.
As well as Martin encouraging me, and repeating mantras like ‘you’re strong – be thankful, be grateful, be kind and keep going’, another thing that will really help is knowing you’re behind me too. I’d be thrilled if you helped smash the stigma on mental health by sponsoring me for Heads Together.
Here’s me chatting about why it’s so important to tackle mental health – and getting a big hug from Harry!:
If you don’t feel you can donate, then please start a conversation with someone you think may be struggling emotionally. Even if it’s just asking “Are you ok?” Sometimes, that’s all it takes to start talking and begin recovering. And also tweet or spread the word about the marathon and Heads Together using the @heads_together handle and #Oktosay hashtag.
Thanks and wish us all luck. I’ll see you, at some stage, at the finish line…