Megan Markle made the difficult confession that she experienced suicidal thoughts while pregnant with her son. As a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist and a Black mother as well, I am heartbroken by the revelation. In her interview with Oprah about her break from the British royal family, Markle highlighted many of the risk factors for perinatal depression and its devastating consequences that many of my patients face every day. Racism is one of them.
While Markle discussed feelings of hopelessness, social isolation, and the lack of support as some of the factors that contributed to a decline in her mental health, it was her understanding of racism as a toxic stressor that spoke to me on both a personal and professional level. I spent the first six years of my life in England and very clearly remember the racism I experienced as a child across the pond. The royal family’s concern about the darkness of her future son’s skin, for example, speaks to the stress my complexion invited into my life.