Sunday 17 February 2019

Kate Middleton's brother James reveals battle with depression: 'It is a cancer of the mind'

James Middleton arrives for the 20th GQ Men of the Year Award at Komische Oper on November 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Isa Foltin/Getty Images for GQ Germany)
James Middleton arrives for the 20th GQ Men of the Year Award at Komische Oper on November 8, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Isa Foltin/Getty Images for GQ Germany)
Spencer Matthews and Vogue Williams in St Barth's. Picture: IMP features/Eliotpress/MEGA
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton applaud after watching Kevin Anderson defeat Roger Federer on day nine of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
Pippa Matthews (centre L) and her brother James Middleton (centre R) sit on court to watch Switzerland's Roger Federer play against South Africa's Kevin Anderson during their men's singles quarter-finals match on the ninth day of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 11, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Oli SCARFF / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEOLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images
Pippa Matthews arrives with her husband James Matthews (left) and her brother James Middleton arrive for the wedding of Princess Eugenie to Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle
James Middleton and Lady Laura Marsham arrive for the christening of Prince Louis Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Philippa Matthews (Middleton) (C), James Middleton (CR), the siblings of Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Pippa's husband James Matthews (CL) arrive to attend the wedding of Britain's Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain October 12, 2018. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS
Michael and Carole Middleton arrive for the christening of Prince Louis Dominic Lipinski/Pool via REUTERS
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton applaud Kyle Edmund after his win on centre court on day four of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
From left, Carole, back row centre, with the royal family at the christening of granddaughter Charlotte
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton in the stands of court one on day nine of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
Pippa and James Middleton, the sister and brother of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive for the christening of Prince George at St James's Palace in London October 23, 2013. REUTERS/John Stillwell/pool (BRITAIN - Tags: ROYALS ENTERTAINMENT SOCIETY)
(L-R) Carole, James, Michael and Philippa Middleton depart the Goring Hotel in London on April 30, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/GP/Getty Images)
James Middleton, Vogue Williams and Spencer Matthews during ladies day of the 2018 Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs Racecourse, Epsom
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Kate Middleton's brother James has revealed his battle with depression for the first time, describing it as a "cancer of the mind".

The 31-year-old, who runs a personalised marshmallow business, recalled with devastating detail his struggles with mental health and said he was inspired by the work his sister and Princes William and Harry were doing with Heads Together, which inspired his decision to speak out and destigmatise the issue.

"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. Debilitating inertia gripped me. I couldn’t respond to the simplest message so I didn’t open my emails," he wrote in the Daily Mail.

"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."

Pippa Matthews and James Middleton in the stands of court one on day nine of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon
Pippa Matthews and James Middleton in the stands of court one on day nine of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon

Middleton went to describe his feelings as a "complete failure" which plagued him with self-doubt and a "sense of worthlessness and desperation" which led to him feeling increasingly isolated, despite having a loving support network of family and close friends around him.

"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," he said.

Just over a year ago, he realised he needed professional help when he drove to the Lake District for solitary contemplation and wished for even the smallest sense of hope to pull him out of the hole of despair into which he had fallen in.

"Depression is only a small part of the complex jigsaw that is me. Since childhood, I’ve known I was severely dyslexic — both letters and numbers still jump and blur on the page in front of me and some days I have difficulty spelling even the simplest words," he said.

"But it was only when, a year ago, I was also diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) that all the quirks and foibles of my character started to make sense. And it was a revelation when I was told I had it. It explained so much. It is the reason I have trouble focusing; why my mind wanders off into extravagant daydreams; why simple tasks such as making my bed assume the same enormity as filing my tax return.

He has overcome this by bringing order to his life through writing lists and is considering medication if his symptoms don't alleviate without them over the coming months.

It's clear that James has never pursued the limelight or used his sister's royal status to further his personal life, but he is an example of using the public interest in his personal life for the greater good and that by sharing his story, he may help someone else in the same position.

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

Philippa Matthews (Middleton) (C), James Middleton (CR), the siblings of Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Pippa's husband James Matthews (CL) arrive to attend the wedding of Britain's Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain October 12, 2018. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS
Philippa Matthews (Middleton) (C), James Middleton (CR), the siblings of Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Pippa's husband James Matthews (CL) arrive to attend the wedding of Britain's Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, in Windsor, Britain October 12, 2018. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS

"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."

If you have been affected by this issue, you can contact the Samaritans on 116123

Online Editors

Also in this section