Kate Middleton‘s brother is opening up about his battle with depression.
In an op-ed for the Daily Mail, James, 31, recounted his darkest moments before seeking treatment a little over a year ago.
“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,” James wrote.
“Debilitating inertia gripped me. I couldn’t respond to the simplest message so I didn’t open my emails.”
“I couldn’t communicate, even with those I loved best: my family and close friends,” James continued.
“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 went on to explain that he felt completely alone in his feelings and even contemplated suicide.
However, after months of suffering, James 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.”
In the Lake District, in North West England, James was able to calm his mind with “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. It was a tiny spark of light in the darkness.”
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James later revealed his reason for speaking out on his experience is to help change the stigma associated with mental illness.
In addition, James felt compelled to follow the lead of his sister Kate, brother-in-law Prince William and Prince Harry, who have been strong advocates for 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.”
Although James was inspired to share his journey because of his family, he didn’t immediately share his battles with them.
“You may wonder why I didn’t confide in them, but 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 explained.
James also spoke candidly about his other struggles, which includes being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) last year and being “severely dyslexic” as a child.
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His obstacles have not kept him stagnant but helped him better understand himself.
James says he sees his “ADD as a gift: it accounts for my creativity and emotional intensity. It means that I come up with fantastic, original ideas — but it also explains why I have had difficulties with the minutiae of running a business.”
Knowing what he’s up against, James makes a deliberate effort every day to put his best foot forward.
“I’m starting to impose order on my life,” James continued. “I write a list of ten things I want to do each day. If I know I really need to concentrate on a task, I might take medication prescribed by my doctor to control my symptoms,” James said of his ADD.
James also thanks his dogs for helping him. “I recognize, too, the role my dogs — Ella, Inca, Luna, Zulu and Mabel — have played in my recovery.”
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“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.”
James, who recently made his social media account public, raved over Ella in a sweet congratulatory post after the dog became a Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog.
“Proud of Ella [for] becoming a PAT dog this year,” James wrote. “Animals can provide a sense of calm, comfort, or safety and divert attention away from a stressful situation and toward one that provides pleasure.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
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