James Middleton has said he ‘owes his dogs his life’ in a new interview about his battle with depression.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s brother, 33, recently appeared on BBC’s Sunday Live to speak about his struggles with mental health and how his dogs — particularly his black cocker spaniel Ella — have helped him.
The entrepreneur has five dogs – Golden Retriever Mabel and four black Spaniels called Ella, Zulu, Inka and Luna – who he has often credited with helping him through his struggles.
In a clip shared on his Instagram page yesterday, James explained: ‘For me, during troubled times and good times, they’re my consistent….I would go so far as to say that I owe Ella my life, and she doesn’t know that.’
Sharing a clip of the interview online yesterday, James wrote: ‘Dogs don’t just change lives…they save them.
‘I had an honest conversation with Sean Fletcher for BBC’s Sunday Live program with Pets As Therapy talking about how dogs can change lives in so many different ways.’
In the clip, James introduced five of his pups to the presenter before adding: ‘They’re a very, very loyal companion.’
He explained how one of his dogs had been central in giving him confidence in seeking help.
James said: ‘I got this diagnosis and Ella came to all of my therapy sessions, which I was reluctant to go from the start.
‘But with her by my side, I really became confident in understanding that I had a mental illness.’
And responding to a comment from an Instagram follower, James called his dogs ‘the best prescription.’
Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983 which ‘enhances health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals,’ according to its website.
After being assessed, James and his beloved dog Ella are volunteers as well as his fiancée Alizée Thevenet and his pet Golden Retriever Mabel.
In May, James revealed how his dogs were his ‘medicine’ amid his mental health battle as he opens up about how his pets have helped him with his therapy.
‘From my own experiences with suffering with mental health and depression and anxiety, it was over the last three or so years that I’ve really discovered how much animals were actually helping me. I didn’t really immediately realise.
‘Over time Ella came to all my therapy sessions and various other events and she was that person that actually I could talk to but without being judged. She was a very good listener, she distracted me from various things.
‘And that’s when I thought, actually there’s something here and discovered Pets As Therapy and straight away managed to get an assessment and Ella was signed up not that long after.
He added: ‘And ever since then… I truly believe animals are medicine and they really are incredible for our own wellbeing.’
When speaking about the times he had suicidal thoughts, James previously said to The Telegraph that he ‘needed a way out’ but couldn’t bear to leave his family or dogs.
He particularly credits one of his Cocker Spaniels Ella for being with him during the toughest of times.
As a result, Ella and James both volunteer with the Pets As Therapy charity and Ella is a fully fledged therapy dog for PAT.
James has also opened up about his depression in an interview with The Mail when he said his depression was like ‘a cancer of the mind’.
He said that he suffered in silence as his mental health deteriorated and described feeling like he was a ‘complete failure’ as his depression spiralled.
James immersed himself in recovery and underwent nearly a year of cognitive behavioral therapy where his family attended some of the sessions.