James Middleton is hoping his story can help others.
Kate Middleton‘s brother revealed his battle with depression in an emotional op-ed for The Daily Mail on Friday, in which he candidly recalled sinking into a “morass of despair” before deciding to get treatment just over a year ago.
As James shared, he was inspired to speak out after seeing how his oldest sister, her husband, Prince William, and his brother, Prince Harry, have used their platforms to shine a light on mental health. “They believe we can only tackle the stigma associated with mental illness if we have the courage to change the national conversation, to expel its negative associations,” he said, before noting that his family members were some of the hardest people to discuss his depression with.
“Those who are closest to you are the hardest to speak to. It was impossible to let my loved ones know about the torture in my mind,” James, 31, explained.
Before seeking treatment, James said he was consumed by “debilitating inertia.” “During the day I’d drag myself up and go to work, then just stare with glazed eyes at my computer screen, willing the hours to tick by so I could drive home again,” he expressed.
“I couldn’t communicate, even with those I loved best: my family and close friends,” James wrote. “I know I’m richly blessed and live a privileged life. But it did not make me immune to depression. It is tricky to describe the condition. It is not merely sadness. It is an illness, a cancer of the mind.”
The younger brother of Kate and Pippa Middleton continued, divulging that at one point, he thought about suicide. Instead, he decided to do something. “I packed my dogs into my car and, telling no one where I was going, drove to a wild part of the Lake District I’ve loved since I was a child,” he described, adding that it was there that he found calmness through solitary walks on snow-capped mountains.
“In the days before, I’d finally confronted the fact that I couldn’t cope any longer, that I wasn’t all right; that I desperately needed help. And this recognition led to a sort of calm: I knew if I accepted help there would be hope,” he recalled. “It was a tiny spark of light in the darkness.”
In his op-ed, James wrote about coping with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which he was diagnosed with last year, and being “severely dyslexic” as a child. He also revealed how his dogs — Ella, Inca, Luna, Zulu and Mabel — have played a part in his recovery.
“Ella, particularly, has been my constant companion for ten years and she’s been with me to all my therapy sessions. In her own particular way, she has kept me going,” he said. “As a result, Ella and I now volunteer with the Pets As Therapy charity and Ella is a fully-fledged therapy dog for PAT.”
James concluded his piece by noting that he believes he still would have suffered from depression without the pressure of his sister marrying into the royal family. “But I wouldn’t have found a voice or an outlet for my story if it hadn’t been for the people I’m related to. And that puts me in a unique position of privilege and trust. I feel I have a duty to speak out, so I can help others who are suffering as I did,” he shared.
“Today — hard as it is to admit this — I am pleased I went through debilitating depression because I now have the skills to fight it… The end result of this journey has been a positive one,” he wrote. “If I could leave you with just one thought, it would be this: ‘It’s OK not to be OK.’”
See more on how the royal family has spoken out about mental illness in the video below.