Breaking Through Depression to find a brighter day: How Six Words Changed Everything for Jason Wrobel
IMPORTANT: Depression is a serious illness. Do not attempt to diagnose depression or any other mental health condition yourself. If you suffer from depression, know that you’re not alone. Contact your healthcare provider or the National Suicide Prevention Healthline for guidance on what to do next.
When we look back on our lives, most of us are grateful for our successes.
But Jason Wrobel, celebrity chef, bestselling author, and successful wellness coach, says he’s grateful for the year he thought he’d lost everything.
In 2014, Jason’s life seemed ideal. With his engaging personality and an unusual talent for creating tasty dishes, he’d just landed the job of his dreams: a spot on the Cooking Channel. He was also in a solid relationship and had just begun negotiating a book deal.
Then, “It all fell apart,” Jason says.
Without warning, his relationship ended. He turned to his career for solace, putting all his energy into “material and career success,” he says. But a surprise email left him reeling: the Food Network was canceling his new show.
“I wanted to cry, scream, throw up, and jump out a window all at once,” Jason says in his forthright, unflinching way. “I couldn’t believe how quickly [the network] ended something that took three years to conceive and launch. It felt like my biggest career win to that point was taken away in an instant.”
Jason wasn’t ready to lie down just yet. Relying on a well of deep inner strength that had sustained him all his life, he pushed forward, turning his focus to writing his book. But then, “I lost [the book deal] after the publisher heard my TV series was being canceled,” he says.
All this would have been plenty to overturn anyone’s world. But it all went deeper than that: Jason was hiding a secret and had been for years. The man with the confident and driven exterior had suffered from episodes of depression, which he hid from everyone—even those who loved him best.
“I already knew what serious internal pain was, and I’d always fought to keep it deep inside,” Jason reveals now. “But I started to spiral further into depression than ever before. I found myself struggling to get out of bed, digging for any shred of motivation to continue living amidst the rubble of the life I once knew.”
Standing in his kitchen one summer day shortly after his book deal fell through, “I decided I’d had enough,” he says. The years of deeply-hidden pain plus the storm of his career and personal life had finally become too much. “I wanted to kill myself,” he admits.
Jason wrote a long, heartfelt letter to his loved ones, unknowingly setting the wheels in motion for the healing that was to come. In this “las” letter, rather than avoiding his pain as he’d done in the past, he faced it head-on. “I wrote about the illusion of success and validation we all chase,” he reveals. “I had finally figured out that when all of that goes away, we are left with nothing but our pretense and ghost chasing. If we want to heal, we have to heal what’s inside. That’s what’s real.”
Closing his eyes, Jason prepared for his last moments. Then suddenly, “A voice came to my consciousness,” he says. “Call it God, spirits, angels, ancestors—to this day, I still don’t know exactly who or what it was. But it spoke very clearly to me.”
The voice asked just six words, but they’d change the course of Jason’s life forever: “Do you really want to die?”
Jason stopped in his tracks: suddenly, he knew the answer. “I realized that I didn’t actually want to die. I just wanted my suffering to end. And that distinction proved to be the moment that allowed me to let go of the idea of ending it all, and start seeking out real solutions to my suffering instead.”
That one critical moment changed the entire course of Jason’s life. Digging deep into his lifelong education of food and nutrition, he began to investigate not just emotional but nutrient-based pathways.
“I started researching. I investigated nutrients, neurotransmitters, new mindfulness techniques and alternative treatments to depression and mental illness. I knew, on some level, that to start the healing process, I’d need to address my illness from a mental, spiritual, physical, and nutritional level.”
Jason was on a roll. For the first time in his life, he’d allowed his demons to surface –– and he was defeating every last one. He attacked the physical side to things first. “I found an incredible integrative doctor in Los Angeles named Dr. Allen Green,” Jason says. A series of blood tests given by Dr. Green showed that “it was no wonder I was depressed. The doctor informed me that my primary neurotransmitters were functioning well below the levels he expected to see.”
Neurotransmitters are the communication elements in the brain that also keep mood in balance. When these function poorly, anxiety, depression, and more can result. In light of the clinical findings, “We set the course for a host of new supplements, combined with a low-inflammatory diet.”
Jason quickly saw changes. For the first time, he not only had superior physical health but the emotional health to match it.
“I sought therapy as well, and I highly recommend it,” he says. “Don’t struggle with this on your own.” It was Jason’s second venture with therapy, but the new practitioner introduced him to something fascinating: somatic experiencing. It closely mirrored Jason’s long-held belief that body and mind must work together for good health.
“[The doctor and I] located trauma in my body and worked to release it on both a mental and physical level,” Jason explains. “It proved to be deep, potent, and effective for me.”
He also hit the gym: big time. Endorphins seemed to lift his mood even more. Balanced by a superior nutrition regimen, Jason began to feel he was claiming his own life and his own future, for the very first time.
Life today is amazing for Jason, who bounced back to become a TV personality and published author, as well as a wellness coach. But he still has his moments where depression rears its head. The difference is that today, he has the tools to combat it, including a deep acceptance of himself and his own inner worth plus a basis of physical health.
“I feel like all of the tools I’ve amassed over the last several years have empowered me with new abilities to deal with depressive thoughts when they come up,” he says, adding, “It’s like I’ve assembled a superhero belt to which I keep adding cool new tools to help deal with my inner demons.”
As a beacon to others who have battled depression, Jason recommends finding help from qualified professionals and addressing what’s ailing both the body and the mind, as both are often affected by depression. He says this deep inner work is a must. “Before, I had relied on what I viewed as success to keep me going, but the pain never really went away. Bring it all out in the open! Talk to someone. Take care of your body. Take care of your mind. Depression's hold starts to shrink the more you face it.”
He still feels that hitting rock-bottom was what saved him. “I fully believe that sometimes, life takes away the unnecessary fodder from our lives in order to get us to truly change something that’s hurting us,” the successful wellness coach says. “Today, that’s how I think of my own crisis in 2014. I never realized how much joy there could be in life until I was asked, ‘Do you really want to die?’ No, I want to live. I want to live every single second of my life to the fullest.”
Jason has found a brighter day, and he knows you can, too.