Middleton, who said he was speaking out because he supports his royal relatives’ campaign to remove the stigma from mental illness, described his condition as “a cancer of the mind” that made him feel like a “complete failure.”
“I know I’m richly blessed and live a privileged life,” wrote Middleton, 31. “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.”
He added: “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.”
Middleton wrote that he had feelings of being a “complete failure” and “going crazy.” Still, he said he kept his struggles hidden from his family and friends, failing to reach out or return concerned texts.
Eventually, he reached a breaking point and sought help from a psychiatrist. Middleton ended up getting tested for attention deficit disorder and going to cognitive behavioral therapy (which he still does) to deal with his depression.
“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,” wrote Middleton, a businessman.
“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,” he added. “So it wouldn’t be honest to suppress my story. I want to speak out, and they are my motivation for doing so.”
William, Kate and Harry have made a point of speaking openly about mental health and its importance. The Duchess of Cambridge, in a piece she wrote for HuffPost UK, explained why parents should speak to their children about their own mental health, given that it’s just as important as their physical health.
“Like most parents today, William and I would not hesitate to seek help for our children if they needed it,” she wrote.
“We hope to encourage George and Charlotte to speak about their feelings, and to give them the tools and sensitivity to be supportive peers to their friends as they get older. We know there is no shame in a young child struggling with their emotions or suffering from a mental illness.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.