It was World Mental Health Day on Thursday and James Middleton, brother of Kate, has been surprisingly candid about his own battle with depression.
In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper in the UK, James revealed just how debilitating his condition was.
“I couldn’t do anything,” he told the newspaper. “I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t read a book, I couldn’t watch a film, I couldn’t eat,” he said.
He also said that he found it very difficult to talk to anyone about how he felt, including his family.
“The fact is, no matter what experience someone has, your family members are the hardest people [to talk to]… You also have a very different way of interacting with your family than you do with your friends.” he said.
The Middletons were very supportive, however. James underwent cognitive behavioural therapy for a year to treat his depression, including some counselling sessions that the entire family, including Kate, attended.
“That was so important because that helped them understand me and how my mind was working,’ he said. “And I think the way the therapy helped me was that I didn’t need my family to say, ‘What can we do?’ The only thing they could do was just come to some of the therapy sessions to start to understand,” he explained.
Earlier this year, in an op-ed for the Daily Mail, James also credited his dogs, Ella, Zulu, Inka, Luna & Mabel (ironically, black dogs) with helping him fight his depression. “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 wrote.
“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, who was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder along with clinical depression, is in a much better place now. He recognises that his illness will never fully disappear but it is something he can manage.
“It was a dark and miserable place to be, but the fact is there is hope at the end. It requires effort and energy, but the other side is… the grass can be greener than it was before,” he said. “For me, now, there’s a feeling that I can take on anything, in the nicest possible way. Not in a [combative] way. Because if I can talk about my mental health and the things I am passionate about and the way I truly feel… well then I’m not pretending to be anyone. This is who I am.”
James recently announced his engagement to French financial analyst Alizee Thevenet.
For the story in The Telegraph, he spoke with journalist and author Bryony Gordon who has written very candidly about her own struggles with depression. She also hosts a mental health podcast, Bryony Gordon’s Mad World, and once had Prince Harry as a guest on the show.