Watch: James Middleton discusses how his dog helped him through depression
James Middleton has discussed how his pet dog helped him to overcome depression.
The 35-year-old entrepreneur, who is the younger brother of Kate, Princess of Wales, appeared on This Morning in a discussion about how pets can help their owners with mental health struggles.
Speaking to presenters Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield, Middleton explained his canine companion, Ella, a trained therapy dog, had recently passed away, but that he was grateful for everything she'd done for him.
"Ella was there, over the last 15 years, for huge moments in my life and it is a really challenging thing to think about the next phase of my life without her," he told the hosts.
"I was 20 when I first got her so I sort of discovered myself as an adult. We grew up together and she looked out for me and I looked out for her."
Willoughby interjected to explain that Ella had helped her owner come through some really tough times.
"It was one of those sorts of moments that I realised that when I suffered from clinical depression, Ella came to each and every one of my therapy sessions.
"It was during that time that I started to recognise the power that she had or the influence she had in helping me verbalise some of the thoughts I was having."
Middleton went on to explain that his pet had been "consistent in my life at that time when a lot of my friends and family wanted to help but it was difficult for me to let them help."
He explained that Ella would appear with a shoe in her mouth and encourage her owner to take her for a walk.
Middleton described how the dog had been able to stop him from having "challenging thoughts" by distracting him with a certain look or the wag of her tail.
"There would just be this look that she would have and the tip of her tail would wag a little bit and she would just know that there was something," he continued. "She just had to come and nestle herself or put her head on my knee and would stop me from having a really challenging thought and it would just distract me."
Host Schofield pointed out that Ella "got in the way" of Middleton's dark thoughts.
"Amongst many other things, she was that one thing that was always there," the entrepreneur explained. "She'd look me in the eyes and give me the confidence that everything was going to be okay.
"It's so important to talk," he continued. "But you don't always need a response when you say things but when you have a thought about something and say it out loud, it can be a very different experience."
Middleton said he hoped that by opening about his experiences with depression he might help others, while also continuing to help himself.
"I have to continue to talk about it," he told Willoughby and Schofield. "It's not going to go away, it will never go away and it's something that I've tried to address as frequently as possible and in sharing that story it does help me as much as I hope it does help others."
Last month, Middleton revealed to his Instagram followers that his canine companion had passed away in his arms following a "very short illness" and is now buried alongside his first dog, Tilly, who died in 2017.
Alongside a black-and-white snap of Ella, who was 15, and another of them together, Middleton announced: "It is with great sadness that I announce my dear Ella has passed away
"For 15 years Ella has been at my side, from my darkest days to my happiest. I’m going to miss her terribly
"Ella had a very short illness, she slipped away in my arms at home and is now buried in the garden alongside Tilly. I took this picture just a few hours before she died.
"I’m just about holding it together to write this, and despite the fact I knew this day was coming, it doesn’t make it any easier."
Middleton went on to add that his wife Alizee and their other dogs are helping to console him.
He concluded: "Goodnight my darling Ella, Alizee and the dogs will take good care of me."
The entrepreneur previously admitted he wouldn't have coped without Ella by his side while he was dealing with "insufferable" depression.
Alongside a photograph of Ella on Instagram, James wrote on World Mental Health Day 2019: "This is Ella and these are the eyes which helped me get through the insufferable darkness.
"The gentle touch of your wet nose and a loving lick was enough to make me feel brave. I will forever be in your debt. Thank you Ella (sic)."
Back in 2019, Middleton took the cocker spaniel as his plus one to the glamorous Men of the Years awards ceremony held at the Tate Modern.
He has previously opened up about suffering from depression, admitting in an interview with ES Insider he sometimes finds it easier to communicate with dogs than humans.
“Fundamentally inside me I know how much the dogs helped me. I find it easier talking to the dogs than I sometimes do to humans,” he said.
Speaking to the publication at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Middleton also said he takes his dog Ella to all his therapy sessions.
What to do if you're struggling with your mental health
If you are struggling, the best thing you can do is open up to someone so you know you’re not alone.
Mind suggests speaking to friends and family, whether this is a face-to-face conversation, over the phone, or writing them a letter or email.
It also might be useful to practise what you want to say to them first and make some notes.
You can also speak to someone at Mind by calling their infoline on 0300 123 3393,
For support, you can contact Mind's 'infoline' on 0300 123 3393 (open 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday except for bank holidays) or visit their website to use the online chat service.
Samaritan's helpline on 116 123 (any time, day or night).
You can also search for free psychological therapies service (IAPT) on the NHS website.