“This is Ella & these are the eyes which helped me get through the insufferable darkness,” the younger brother of Duchess Kate and Pippa Middleton, 32, wrote. “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.”
Not only has Ella been an emotional support system for James but she helped him meet the love of his life. He met his fiancée, Alizee Thevenet, when the London-based French financial analyst, 29, stopped to pet Ella at the South Kensington Club in 2018. The couple confirmed their engagement on Instagram with a selfie that displayed Thevenet’s sapphire engagement ring on Sunday, October 6.
James has been candid about his battle with depression in the past. In January, the British entrepreneur penned a vulnerable op-ed in the Daily Mail about his mental illness. He thanked his dogs Ella, Inca, Luna, Zulu and Mabel for the role they played in his recovery.
He explained that depression doesn’t discriminate based on class and financial standing.
“I know I’m richly blessed and live a privileged life. But it did not make me immune to depression,” he wrote at the time. “It is tricky to describe the condition. It is not merely sadness. It is an illness, a cancer of the mind.”
He continued on to describe depression as “not a feeling but an absence of feelings.”
James added: “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.”
The Boomf greeting cards cofounder’s mental illness caused him to isolate himself from his family because, “It was impossible to let my loved ones know about the torture in my mind.” He credited the Duchess of Cambridge, 37, her husband Prince William and Prince Harry with inspiring him to speak openly about 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,” he wrote. “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. So it wouldn’t be honest to suppress my story. I want to speak out, and they are my motivation for doing so.”
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