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This week, James Middleton, the younger brother of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, opened up about his private struggle with depression, in hopes of helping others who feel isolated by what he calls “a cancer of the mind.”
Middleton, 31, penned an unfiltered op-ed for the Daily Mail, published Jan. 11, in which he paints a picture of a life plagued by darkness.
“I know I’m richly blessed and live a privileged life,” Middleton wrote. “But it did not make me immune to depression.”
The royal relative, who has had a successful career in business, revealed that he first experienced symptoms of clinical depression in 2016. He said he hit rock bottom in December 2017 when he felt unable to connect with his loved ones.
“I couldn’t communicate, even with those I loved best: my family and close friends,” Middleton wrote.
Since then, he has worked hard to seek help and to better understand the illness that impacts many across the world.
Depression affects about 16 million adults in the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Middleton joins the ranks of many other public figures — from Michael Phelps and Selena Gomez to Kristen Bell and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — speaking out about their mental health.
Middleton wrote that he decided to reveal his struggle for two main reasons.
“Firstly,” he wrote, “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.”
His sister — the former Kate Middleton — has championed mental health awareness, and this was another motivating factor in his decision to share his personal story.
“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,” Middleton explained.
Heads Together, led by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, works to change the stigma that surrounds mental illness and help improve mental health services in the U.K.
Middleton doesn’t blame “the pressure of public scrutiny that comes with (his) association with the Royal Family” for impacting his mental health. Instead, he feels inspired to use his platform to help others.
“People have asked me if my public profile has made it harder for me,” he wrote. “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.”
Looking ahead, Middleton plans to continue fighting for his happiness, with the help of his doctors, family, friends and his pets, including Ella, a certified therapy dog.
At the same time, he hopes to continue supporting others who experience depression.
“I feel I have a duty to speak out, so I can help others who are suffering as I did,” Middleton wrote.