James Middleton, the younger brother of the Duchess of Cambridge, has revealed a Christmas trip to Scotland with his family was a "turning point" in his depression battle.
Over the years, the 33-year-old has been open about his mental health struggles. And now, in his latest column with The Telegraph, James has recalled a particular family holiday in December 2017, which helped him to "get back to being James Middleton".
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The business entrepreneur and his parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, joined his sister Pippa at her husband James Matthews' family home - which also included his parents, Jane and David, and his brother Spencer and his wife Vogue.
"On Christmas day, Spencer and I wore kilts and took a three-hour walk on the Affric trail, around the loch," he said. "I hadn't been in the right state of mind for a while, but this was a turning point for me."
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James also brought along his five dogs - Golden Retriever Mabel and four black Spaniels called Ella, Zulu, Inka and Luna. He has often credited his beloved pets with helping him through his health battle.
In the candid piece, James admitted he was not "looking forward to going away" but his therapist encouraged him to go on the family trip.
James pictured with Spencer Matthews and his wife Vogue
"When we arrived I couldn't spend too long in one place and kept myself busy with jobs such as bringing more wood inside," he added. "My dogs helped me a lot, because they were always a distraction. 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."
Taking long walks with family members around the loch, eating mince pies and drinking a little coffee with whiskey did James a whole world of good.
"I adopted a morning ritual of jumping into Loch Affric every day - the freezing cold water made me feel alive. It has great healing powers," he continued, adding: "Almost each day that went past, my smile became less forced and more genuine."
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