James Middleton Candidly Reveals Battle With Depression: It's a "Cancer of the Mind"

Kate Middleton's younger brother penned an essay explained his private struggle.

By Samantha Schnurr Jan 12, 2019 6:03 PMTags
James MiddletonStuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

James Middleton is opening up. 

While Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton's younger brother has long kept out of the spotlight, it seems the 31-year-old businessman is ready to share his story. Just a day after his public Instagram account emerged, The Daily Mail published an essay penned by Middleton, in which he candidly revealed his secret struggle with depression and attention-deficit disorder. 

As he explained in the essay, his mental health had deteriorated for a year before he sought help two years ago around December 2017. 

"I know I'm richly blessed and live a privileged life. But it did not make me immune to depression," Middleton wrote. "It is tricky to describe the condition. It is not merely sadness. It is an illness, a cancer of the mind."

As he continued, "It's not a feeling but an absence of feelings. You exist without purpose or direction. I couldn't feel joy, excitement or anticipation–only heart-thudding anxiety propelled me out of bed in the morning. I didn't actually contemplate suicide—but I didn't want to live in the state of mind I was in either."

James Middleton's Instagram Revealed

As Middleton recalled, it was his childhood struggle with dyslexia that made his journey through school a challenge as taking tests was difficult and his grades suffered. Simultaneously, he was unaware he was suffering from ADD. "I'm not criticizing the system. But because I didn't know my brain worked differently — and neither did my parents — I couldn't find a way of steering round my ADD. If diagnosis and help had happened sooner, I'd have found life so much easier," he wrote. 

By 2016, he sought out his doctor and tests revealed he had an irregular heartbeat spurred by stress and anxiety. While Middleton was able to handle the symptoms with medication, he did not address his depression through 2017. "I barely functioned, stopped talking to my friends, went through the motions of living and working but achieved nothing at all," he described. Ultimately, by the end of that year, he told his doctor he needed help and has been seeing a psychiatrist, who also diagnosed him with ADD, ever since. 

With the help and support of his family, loved ones and dogs, the Duchess of Cambridge's younger brother has been able to embrace himself entirely and learn how to cope. "Today, I feel a new sense of purpose and zest for life," he assured. 

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As for the decision to speak out now, he was inspired by the work of his sister and brother-in-law, Prince William. "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," he wrote. 

Ultimately, Middleton is eager to use the platform he has been given for good. 

"People have asked me, too, if my public profile has made it harder for me. 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?" he added. "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."

As Middleton concluded, "If I could leave you with just one thought, it would be this: 'It's OK not to be OK.'"

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