Kate Middleton's Brother Once Contemplated Suicide—This Is How He Manages Debilitating Depression
The 31-year-old has spoken out about coping with depression, a condition he admits his privileged life has not made him immune to.
In an article published by British news outlet The Daily Mail this weekend, James Middleton, younger brother to Duchess of Cambridge Kate and society personality Pippa Middleton, came forward about his years-long struggle with depression.
The business owner, through the publication, unexpectedly released an op-ed letter detailing his ongoing process of recovery that began in 2016, when he first recognized that he was dealing with more than just a typical bout of loneliness.
He reveals, "I couldn’t communicate, even with those I loved best: my family and close friends. Their anxious texts grew more insistent by the day, yet they went unanswered as I sank progressively deeper into a morass of despair."
"All colour and emotion had leached out of my world and everything was grey and monotone.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," James continues.
The dog lover then candidly came forward about the extent of his mental health journey, as well as the effects that growing up as a differently-abled child have had on him in adulthood.
Explaining that he had always struggled with dyslexia (a learning difficulty that often makes it difficult for a child to learn how to read, write, and spell at a regular pace), James admitted to feeling that he was coursing through life feeling lost and confused about why his mind behaved the way it did.
His lack of understanding about himself caused feelings of isolation and anxiety, the peak of which hit him a little over two years ago when thoughts of suicide began creeping in yet fortunately, were never entertained.
Already so caught up in his inner turmoil, James was soon informed by his physician that he had also developed arrhythmia, a treatable cardiovascular problem that causes irregular heartbeats, due to severe emotional stress.
The news pushed James further into anguish, cutting him off from family and friends and making him unable to tend to his business. His struggles persisted throughout 2017, a year he recalls was full of helplessness, denial, and numbness, until James finally decided to take things into his own hands.
He narrates, "So just over a year ago—in December 2017—after enduring a progressive deterioration in my mental health over 12 months, 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.
There I swam in an icy Coniston Water, took solitary walks on snow-capped mountains and stayed alone in a remote cottage for a few days, eating from packets and trying to still the tumult in my mind.
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. It was a tiny spark of light in the darkness."
There, he reflected on his current state, and in the silence and and stillness surrounding him, came to an acceptance of what he needed—professional treatment and the courage to be honest with his family who knew had only had good intentions for him.
A trip to the doctor's revealed that James, in conjuction with dyslexia, also had adult Attention Deficit Disorder (a condition generally marked by poor impulse control, a lack of focus, impatience with finishing tasks, and trouble organizing activities)—something that proved to be a huge "aha!" moment for him.
"Once I started to understand the condition, everything about me began to fall into place and make sense," James writes.
Continued therapy and medication combined with the willingness to accept guidance from healthcare professionals proved to be a massive help for James. And with the help of his doctor, Dr. Stephen Pereira, his family was made aware of the reality he was living; his depression was finally starting to feel like something that could be conquered, not feared.
Today, a couple of years since James first came to terms with his depression, he's become brave enough to talk about the experience with the hope of becoming an example to others. He likewise describes himself to not be fully cured of the condition, but is much better equipped with coping mechanisms to manage it on days that prove to be more difficult than usual.
"Firstly, I feel—although I’d never say I am cured of it—that now I understand it and, with professional help, have worked out strategies for coping. Today, I feel a new sense of purpose and zest for life.
Secondly—and perhaps most importantly—I feel compelled to talk about it openly because this is precisely what my brother-in-law Prince William, my sister Catherine and Prince Harry are advocating through their mental health charity Heads Together," James confides in his audience.
Overall, rather than treat the victory over the darkest time of his life as a personal triumph, James is turning it into an opportunity to continue the public discussion of mental health.
Being closely related with the British monarchy hasn't made him at all ashamed of what he had gone through; instead, he's embraced the attention and is using the platform to help eradicate the stigma attached to depression and other mental health issues.
"Would I have become so depressed if I hadn’t been subject to the pressure of public scrutiny that comes with my association with the Royal Family? The answer is, I believe I would. 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. I know now that in doing so I am not admitting to a weakness. The stigma attached to mental illness is lessening," he shares.
James ends his letter with a final, positive thought: he's realized it's okay not to be okay sometimes, but there is always a chance to heal.
Simply take a look at how his life had made a detour for the better, and that in itself will be enough proof that one is never without help and hope.
"If I could leave you with just one thought, it would be this: ‘It’s OK not to be OK.’ That is the mantra that gave me the strength to speak out. Having done so here, it feels as if a great weight has been lifted," he concludes.
Photos from @jmidy