The most uplifting story of last week, at least for me, was James Middleton’s admission in last week’s Daily Mail that he suffered from depression, something he described as a “cancer of the mind”. Middleton, if you don’t know (and I didn’t), is Kate Middleton’s brother, and Kate, as you may know, is married to Prince William. Along with Prince Harry, Kate and William are ambassadors to the mental health charity Heads Together. I think I may love them – I certainly have a lot of man love for Harry – but it was Kate’s brother’s story which moved me most.
You can find and read his story yourself but I found it profoundly moving. He described his life – if you can call it a life – with depression and the desperate impact it had on his life. Apart from the name and the status, his Black Dog was a close cousin of mine. His whole story brought more than one tear to my eyes, but I was in absolute bits when I read this:
“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.”
Well, I didn’t need to read that. I know he lives a privileged life, but then so do I, admittedly on a much smaller scale. To the eyes of many, my life should be perfect. I want for very little. I have a perfect partner and children, a place to live, within reason I can have what I like. But that has not prevented me from being down among the dead men. So, how could it prevented Mr Middleton becoming ill? Answer? It couldn’t.
I was about to write, ‘naturally, his story attracted the usual cynicism and indeed abuse on social networks’, but of course it unnaturally attracted the usual cynicism and abuse. That cynicism and abuse born of ignorance. Depression is an illness. Being rich does not cure cancer of the body and so it does not cure cancer of the mind. I’d like to say I never tire of pointing this out, but I do.
Every time someone goes public about their struggle with mental health, someone somewhere gains strength. If Kate Middleton’s brother can open up about his own struggles, why can’t I? That’s a bit more complicated. However, that’s not for now.
In the cycle of bonkers old mental health, I’m on the way down at the moment, but Mr Middleton’s story sort of stopped me in my tracks. The chances of he and I ever meeting are less than zero, but I’d love to buy him a pint, or perhaps a large Pimms, to tell him thank you and that the boy done great. And tell your sis, William and Harry to keep on fighting the good fight.