Kate Middleton's Brother Details Depression Battle: I Shut Myself Off

By Kelly Burch 06/27/19

“I didn’t want them anywhere near me. I shut myself off, I didn’t communicate with my family at all. But there’s only so long you can hold your breath,” he said. 

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Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and James Middleton
Kate Middleton, Prince Harry and James Middleton

James Middleton, the brother of Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, is speaking out about his struggles with depression, a condition that he says has been crippling at certain points in his life. 

“It’s what keeps you in bed, while anxiety makes you feel guilty for being there. I thought ‘What do I have to be depressed about?’ I’ve been so lucky with my upbringing, I had all the things I wanted,” Middleton told Tatler magazine. “It’s not that I wanted more, but there was something that wasn’t always there... And the more I ignored it, the more it was taking over.”

Middleton said his mental health took a hit in 2011, when he was 23 and his sister married Prince William. That marriage put him in the spotlight. 

Depressed and in the Public Eye

“Suddenly, and very publicly, I was being judged about whether I was a success of a failure. That does put pressure on you,” he said. “Because in my mind I’m doing this irrespective of my family and events that have happened.”

One day in 2017 Middleton was unable to get out of his car because his depression was so strong. Instead of walking into work he called his doctor. 

“I remember not being able to explain. The doctor said ‘James, are you okay?’ And I said ‘No, I’m not.’”

Asking for help allowed Middleton to regain control of his mental health and begin to heal. Today he says he is doing much better. 

“I am happy – I feel like James Middleton again. I feel like I was when I was 13, excited about life. I feel like myself again and I couldn’t ask for more,” he said. 

During the time he was depressed, his family was trying to be supportive, but he pushed them away. 

“I didn’t want them anywhere near me. I shut myself off, I didn’t communicate with my family at all. But there’s only so long you can hold your breath,” he said. 

In January of this year Middleton wrote a Daily Mail editorial, in which he described his experience. 

Privilege Doesn't Make You Immune to Depression

“I know I’m richly blessed and live a privileged life. But it did not make me immune to depression,” he said. “It is tricky to describe the condition. It is not merely sadness. It is an illness, a cancer of the mind.”

When he decided to speak publicly about his experience, his parents were apprehensive. 

“They were very nervous. They worried I would be exposing myself over what was a very private thing,” he said. 

But when Middleton received lots of public support, he and his parents realized that sharing his story was empowering. 

“I did it for ownership,” he said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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