James Acaster has said anybody in Meghan Markle’s position would have struggled with their mental health, saying the Duchess of Sussex was subjected to ‘prejudice, bigotry and hate’.
During her and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan shared that she had experienced suicidal thoughts and ‘didn’t want to be alive anymore’.
She also claimed that when she reached out for help within the palace, she was told: ‘There is nothing we can do to help you because you are not a paid member of the institution.’
Following her comments, Piers Morgan claimed he did not believe Meghan, leading to the star’s eventual departure from Good Morning Britain.
Comedian James has been open about his own mental health in his routines, including having suicidal thoughts, and spoke about the reaction to Meghan’s comments on The Paul Chowdhry Pudcast.
The 36-year-old said: ‘When Meghan Markle is talking about suicidal thoughts, it almost implies that she’s weak or that she’s not coping with stuff. But it’s like no, any person in her position would have ended up feeling like that because the amount of pressure and hate that was heaped upon her, and prejudice and bigotry, and being on the receiving end of all that… you’re insane if you don’t let that affect you or if it doesn’t affect you in some way.
‘And the fact that then there’s a stigma attached to just admitting that and then also, when she does admit it, people then go, she’s making that up, it’s like you know what, you switch places with her and see how well you handle it. I don’t think you’d feel fine.’
James opened up about his struggles with depression and anxiety in an interview on talkSPORT and discussed having a breakdown aged 32 because he hadn’t been looking after his mental health.
The Off Menu podcast host decided to talk about his experiences on stage, but received heckles and abuse for opening up about it.
He said: ‘I guess I was in a bit of a naive headspace when I started talking about it, because I wasn’t making this decision to talk about this taboo thing that no one talks about. I actually kind of thought that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal to talk about it. I thought, I’m just being a comedian talking about my life and this is the kind of material I want to do at the minute.
‘I’d obviously heard people say stuff about starting the conversation and things like that but I always thought that was more of a thing of like, people who are going through mental health struggles don’t want to talk about it so we need to get those people to open up and talk about it; I didn’t think it was because society as a whole doesn’t want to talk about this. And it was only when I started doing the material and stuff like that and getting pushback from some audience members or like, this whole Meghan Markle thing and people saying she’s lying and stuff, you don’t expect that reaction.’
When asked by Paul about the pushback he received, James said: ‘I had some people who, during those routines, would start heckling and shouting out. So when I said about having suicidal thoughts, I had some people shouting “man up”, I had others call me a crybaby and things like that. It wouldn’t upset me, it would just surprise me that this person had such a visceral, angry reaction to it.
‘Some people accused me of being an attention seeker when I was talking about it… You should have called me an attention seeker when I was doing stand-up before! I’m clearly an attention seeker, but I’m not talking about this for attention.’
The comic added that often in the UK, speaking about mental illness or seeking help and therapy is seen as ‘arrogant’ or ‘self-indulgent’, when it should be encouraged.
In his 2019 show, Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999, James spoke about calling the Samaritans during filming for The Great British Bake Off Stand Up To Cancer special.
A moment from the charity special went viral, in which James, fresh from a disaster making flapjacks, said: ‘Started making it, had a breakdown, bon appétit.’
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