The gift Kate Middleton gave her brother to help him through depression

Catriona Harvey-Jenner
Photo credit: Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

Kate Middleton is known for being very close to her family; her mum, Carole, her dad, Michael, and her siblings Pippa and James.

In the past, James Middleton has opened up about his struggles with depression, and about how his family has been there to help him through it. And in a new essay written for the Daily Mail, he's shared details of a special gift bought for him by Kate and the rest of the family that has helped with his mental health.

"I've written in this paper about the clinical depression that first hit me in 2016, and one of my strategies for coping with it is beekeeping," James writes. 33-year-old James had always been interested in bees, but it wasn't until his family bought him his own, as a present for his 24th birthday, that his love for them - and his positive mental health outlet - really developed.

"I’d always harboured a longing to keep bees, but it wasn’t until I turned 24 in 2011 that the wish became reality. Then, my family - mum, dad and my sisters Catherine and Pippa - clubbed together to buy what for me was the most fantastic birthday gift imaginable," James writes in his recent essay.

"A delivery van arrived with a large buzzing box with the cautionary label: 'Live Bees'. Inside was the nucleus — the start — of my colony: 1,000 Buckfast bees."

Since then, James has maintained his beehives, and has even planted a wildflower meadow close to the hives with flowers the bees love. All in all, it's had a powerful effect on his mental health.

"I see it as an active form of meditation, a chance to escape from mental tumult. When I’m with my bees it’s as if someone’s pressed the mute button on everything that’s worrying me," Kate's brother explains in his essay.

James goes on to explain that the calmer he is, the calmer the bees are - which is an important means of keeping his mental health in check. "When you’re suited up and immersed in the task, the cares of the world recede completely," he writes.

Photo credit: JUSTIN TALLIS - Getty Images

But bees aren't the only animal he uses to balance his mental health; his dogs have also played a major role in helping him through some of his darkest times. "Ella [James' oldest Cocker Spaniel], particularly, has been my constant companion for ten years and she’s been with me to all my therapy sessions. In her own particular way, she has kept me going," he wrote last year, in a personal essay opening up about his depression.

Ella and James now volunteer with the Pets As Therapy charity and Ella is a fully-fledged therapy dog.

And Kate, Pippa and their parents have also done all they can to support James through his mental health problems. "I think the way the therapy helped me was that I didn’t need my family to say, 'What can we do?' The only thing they could do was just come to some of the therapy sessions to start to understand," he revealed in an interview with the Telegraph.

For James, therapy felt like "sitting in a chair with a ball of wool made up of eight different colours, and then a therapist is sitting opposite you with a needle untangling it. When we started mapping everything out, and it was on a page, it was absolute chaos."

It's all about knowing what things - big or small, therapy or beekeeping - can help you through.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues contact a GP or freephone Samaritans for confidential support 24 hours a day, on 116 123.

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