Mental illness can strike anyone in any place at any time. That's part of the message that James Middleton, brother of literal royal Kate Middleton, aims to get across in his new raw, emotional essay about his own struggles with depression. Writing for the Daily Mail, Middleton shared his experiences with mental illness and how getting help changed the course of his life.
Here are some highlights from the essay, which you can read in full here:
On forcing your way through day-to-day life with depression:
"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."
On how his depression impacted his family:
"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."
On the specifics of what depression feels like:
"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.
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.
I also felt misunderstood; a complete failure. I wouldn’t wish the sense of worthlessness and desperation, the isolation and loneliness on my worst enemy. I felt as if I was going crazy."
On why he's sharing his story now:
"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.
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. So it wouldn’t be honest to suppress my story. I want to speak out, and they are my motivation for doing so."
If you're struggling with depression or suicidal ideation, you can get help 24 hours a day by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273‑TALK (8255) or chat online with someone suing the Lifeline's Live Online Chat. You can also connect with a trained counselor 24/7 via text at the Crisis Text Line, by texting DBSA to 741741.