How a family Christmas trip to Scotland was a 'turning point' in James Middleton's battle with depression

By Heather Cichowski

How a family Christmas trip to Scotland was a 'turning point' in James Middleton's battle with depression

James Middleton has been candid about his mental health and has frequently spoken out to raise awareness about emotional well-being.

In a new essay in The Telegraph, Duchess Kate's younger brother reveals how a family trip to Scotland during the holidays was a "turning point" in his battle with depression.

The Ella & Co founder said when Christmas arrived in 2017, he initially didn't want to go on the trip to the Glen Affric estate in the Scottish Highlands. He was joined by his parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, his sister, Pippa Middleton, and her husband, James Matthews, as well as James's younger brother, Spencer Matthews. The estate is owned by James and Spencer's family.

James poses with his dogs Inka, Luna, Ella and Mabel at a launch event for Crufts and Friends for Life in Green Park, London in February. Photo: © Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

“One month earlier in November 2017, I had been diagnosed with depression and started seeing a therapist,” James penned in the essay, which was published Dec. 5.

The 33-year-old said his therapist encouraged him to go on the vacation, explaining the 10-day trip had things he loved, including dogs and the countryside. His therapist also suggested going outside for a walk if things became too much for him on the trip.

"When we arrived, I couldn't spend too long in one place, and kept myself busy with jobs such as bringing more wood inside," James recounted.

"My dogs helped me a lot, because they were always a distraction," the dog lover shared. "If I needed to leave a room, it was because I was going to feed them, check on them or take them out. So I had a constant purpose."

James had brought his cherished pooches, including his black Spaniels Ella, Zulu, Inka and Luna, and his Golden Retriever Mabel on the holiday.

During the Christmas trip, Pippa and Kate's younger brother developed a routine of jumping into Loch Affric every day.

"The freezing cold water made me feel alive. It has great healing powers,” he wrote in The Telegraph.

Another turning point was going on a three-hour walk on the Affric trail on Christmas Day while wearing a kilt.

"I hadn't been in the right state of mind for a while, but this was a turning point for me," he said. "Almost each day that went past, my smile became less forced and more genuine."

"I realized I had to really focus on getting back to being James Middleton - and that's what I went on to do," James penned. "I had created a purpose."

MORE: James Middleton launches a dog food, named after one of his pooches, and opens up about his mental health

James and his fiancée, Alizee Thevenet, as well as their dogs, recently spent time at the Glen Affric estate. The 33-year-old shared beautiful photos from the trip on his Instagram.

"I had tingles not from the cold but from how beautiful it was..." he wrote in one post. "It’s crazy how peaceful the planet can be but at the same time how crazy it can be – make sure you take some out for you (and your dogs). Go outside, open a window, walk, breathe, meditate, or even make a good old cup of tea!"

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