As someone who has never watched a single royal family anything, ever, until last night’s interview between Meghan Markle and Oprah—can I just say this:

FAR more than I’m concerned with whether Meghan was being truthful (for what it’s worth, I thought she came across very authentically), I’m concerned with the lack of human compassion I’ve seen today in the fallout.

On TV, across social media, in news headlines, and in personal conversations—I have seen and heard some of the nastiest, least empathetic words said about her. 

And as someone who has struggled with mental health myself, it stings.

I count myself so fortunate to have never had suicidal thoughts. I have never thought of harming myself, have never thought of harming someone else—and for that, I am so grateful.

But regardless of the specifics of my mental illness compared to anyone else’s, my heart breaks for anyone who has ever felt that darkness.

Because feeling hopelessness and desperation, you guys? It’s hard.

Having that first conversation about your emotional state with your husband? It’s hard.

Saying the words “I’m not OK” out loud? It’s hard.

Reaching out to a doctor or therapist or both? It’s hard.

And I can’t imagine how broken I would still be if the courage it took me to do those things had been met with people calling me “attention-seeking” or “dramatic.” I 100 percent guarantee I would have crawled back into my dark hole, and would probably still be there.

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Today as I saw and heard some of the harsh critiques of last night’s interview, I thought of the new mom struggling with postpartum depression.

The teenager considering hurting himself.

The woman putting on a brave face outwardly, while fighting anxiety in private.

The man slipping further into the darkness and unsure of how to climb out.

And I wondered—how is today’s news impacting those souls?

Are the horrible things being said about Meghan causing them to feel shame of their own? Guilt? Fear? Loneliness?

Is it making the person who was *so close* to finding the courage to seek help, instead withdraw and continue suffering in silence?

Our words matter, you guys.

Regardless of anything else—no matter our personal opinions and biases—we need to be SO CAREFUL about condemning anyone who has reached out for help with mental illness.

We don’t know Meghan’s truth—only she really does.

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But guess what? We also don’t know the truth of the cashier at the grocery store or our child’s teacher or even our own best friend. We don’t know unless they’re courageous enough to speak up—and we have to be ready to meet those brave words with compassion and support if and when they do.

We have to be ready to throw a life preserver their way.

If you have never experienced mental illness, you just can’t know the all-consuming overwhelm of it.

I DIDN’T KNOW.

But gosh, you guys.

Truth, or not.

Acting, or not.

Fiction, or not.

Mental health is always a subject we need to meet with compassion. ALWAYS.

Because that compassion? I promise it can save lives.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward