As the wife to the heir of the Earl of Sandwich, Julie Montagu's life may seem cushy and carefree to some. However, it has been anything but. The Ladies of London fitness guru revealed that her husband Luke Montagu struggled with an addiction to prescription drugs for years during a recent interview with You Magazine.
It all started when Luke, 46, had a difficult time recovering from a routine sinus operation when he was 19 years old. Luke experienced headaches and felt "out of sorts" for several weeks after the surgery. A doctor wrongfully diagnosed him with a chemical imbalance in the brain, according to You Magazine. Luke now realizes that the more likely reason for his condition was that he had suffered an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic following the sinus operation.
Starting with Prozac, Luke was prescribed various antidepressants throughout his 20s, but every time he tried to stop taking them, he would feel withdrawal symptoms, such as dizziness, insomnia, and anxiety, so he became dependent on the medication. He was later prescribed the sleeping pill clonazepam and became addicted to that as well. "I always knew about it and to begin with it didn’t ring alarm bells," Julie, who has been married to Luke since 2004, told You Magazine. "So many Americans are on pharmaceutical drugs that it didn’t seem a big deal."
Luke decided to quit taking the drugs altogether in 2009. "He would try to taper his dosages, but then he would feel worse," Julie said. "He did some research and realized he was just like a junkie craving his fix."
A psychiatrist then suggested that Luke admit himself to an addictions clinic to help manage his withdrawal. The staff took his clonazepam away the night Luke checked in, but he should have been weaned off of it over a period of months or years, according to You Magazine. "That was the beginning of the hell," Julie said. "I remember visiting Luke the following day and he was a completely different person."
Julie went on to describe that Luke (pictured above with Julie on the couple's wedding day) "couldn’t think straight. He said it felt as though he had had a lobotomy. His ears were ringing, everything was blurry and he was sobbing and writhing in agony."
Luke discharged himself from the facility within a week, but he remained in tremendous pain, so he stayed in his bed for months. Julie told their four children, who were between the ages of 2 and 10 at the time, that "Daddy's got bad flu."
Julie recalled having "a nervous breakdown" on Christmas Day 2010 when Luke spent the day in bad "too ill to even fake it," she described to You Magazine. "Everyone thinks of me as someone who always holds it together, but in that moment, I lost it," she said.
Julie ran outside to her car so her children couldn't see her in this upset state. "That was how Luke found me – hysterical. He took me in his arms and rocked me like a baby. He was crying, too. That was truly our rock bottom," she said.
The Ladies of London mom said that finding yoga and a healthy diet really helped her get through this difficult time. "Those things are pretty much everything that helped me get through that period, not only for me, but I think especially the healthy eating rubbed off on my husband and on my kids. Even the yoga and the mindfulness and the meditation rubbed off on my husband as well," Julie recently told The Daily Dish.
Luke eventually weaned himself off of the antidepressants and sleeping pills completely. However, he still wasn't able to resume his post running London's Metropolitan Film School, which he also founded, so it was up to Julie to support the family financially. That's when she started making a career out of her passion for health and fitness.
Julie started teaching yoga. She also studied through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and became certified in plant-based nutrition at Cornell University. Now Julie has a loyal following of students at Triyoga in London's Chelsea neighborhood, and she gives out tons of advice for a healthy mind, body, and soul on her website. She already has the cookbook Superfoods under her belt and just released her new book Eat Real Food: Simple Rules for Health, Happiness and Unstoppable Energy earlier this month. Julie's next cookbook Superfoods Superfast is also due out this summer.
Though Julie has never been afraid to show her emotions on Ladies of London, she has not really publicly shared this part of her life (Luke did open up about his struggles with antidepressants in The Times Magazine last July). "I always felt it was [Luke's] story to share, in his own time," she told You Magazine.
Fortunately, Luke is doing much better these days. The "poor medical advice" he experienced "ultimately resulted in a £1.35 million legal settlement," according to You Magazine. He has rejoined the board of the Metropolitan Film School and recently co-founded the Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry, an organization that aims to educate people on the potentially harmful effects of psychiatric drugs. "Let’s not gloss over this, the past few years have been really hard," Luke told You Magazine. "I haven’t been the person Julie married, and I’m still not. When you are in constant pain, it doesn’t take much to make you agitated. But Julie has done an astonishing job of keeping us going."
See more of Julie's life at home in the pics, below.