Jason was an amazingly exciting and memorable footballer, a dual internationalist who excelled in rugby league and rugby union. He played in two world cup finals, 2003 England vs Australia and 2007 England vs South Africa. In 2005 he became the 118th captain of the English rugby team, the first mixed-race player to achieve this accomplishment. He also toured with the British and Irish Lions twice to Australia and New Zealand.
His blinding acceleration was a sight to behold, especially when open green fields beckoned and desperate opponents huffed and puffed in vain attempts to mow him down. He was a classy player through and through who had great vision, speed and the crucial ‘ x-factor’. When he touched the ball, especially when injecting himself into a backline move or with lots of space in open play, something exciting was going to happen.
Jason battled depression for a long time. He kept troubling feelings pent up which wreaked havoc on his mental processes and ability. When troubling emotions aren’t released a depressed person can feel alone, confused and agitated. It really can feel like you’re heading toward insanity, ongoing rumination with no proper outlet, like a dam slowly building up waiting to burst.
Jason felt isolated and down during his low points. In the height of success, seemingly surrounded by loved ones friends and family, he felt an excruciating sense of loneliness that just didn’t go away, like a constant hum that rose to deafening levels. Jason, via the BBC Website, said:
But back then when you feel like the walls are closing in and you’ve got no-one to talk to. Well, you’ve got millions of people you could talk to but you haven’t really got somebody you can just open up and share your heart with.
Like many ultra-successful and highly competitive people who live in the public spotlight and seem to have “everything made”, he struggled to communicate his fears and depressive condition underlying his successful public persona, and didn’t know how to effectively reach out to others or expose vulnerability.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. Other featured testimonies in How I Beat Depression include some very outwardly successful people such as corporate high flyer Graeme Cowan, and former President of the USA, Abraham Lincoln. As Jason struggled to communicate his interior world and contemplated doing “silly things” – a reference to self harm.
According to an article released not long after the Rugby World Cup Final in 2007, Jason also suffered a troubled upbringing and abuse from a stepfather which no doubt influenced his episodes with depression. Again, another example of an absent biological father influencing and charting a course of mental health issues, many other stories on this site echo a similar theme.
His story powerfully reinforces the clear fact that when it comes to depression outward success has nothing to do with internal feelings of anger, despair and intense loneliness. There is no way to incubate yourself completely from depression. The Black Dog can strike, sometimes heavily, on those who have attained all the status and accoutrements that society insist are most worthy of praise and admiration and therefore “should” be at peace with themselves and others.
There is a consensus that, in some cases, highly successful people develop a very elaborate strategy of defense against feelings of unworthiness and rejection. Sometimes they to try and curb away dark, depressing ideas about themselves and their identity, which can be an impetus to drive and achieve. Please note in many cases they achieve great things and should be commended for seeing their hard work through to completion.
In Jason’s case, one of the most important things he did was coming forward and acknowledging his problem. He was also positively influenced by a team mate, Samoan rugby player Va’aiga Tuigamala who played Rugby League with Jason. Va’aiga’s sunny disposition, calm nature and personal support led Jason to convert to Christianity. Having a spiritual anchor is really useful when trying to beat depression. Having a sense of purpose, meaning, direction and a belief can be vital in beating long standing problematic behavior and thought. Jason also battled alcoholism and through peer support was able to pull off alcohol and remain sober. The link between depression and alcohol use is obvious and compelling, the two rarely do not go hand in hand.
How I Beat Depression commends Jason on coming forward to reveal his personal hardships and wish him all the best for his future and in his life as he continues in his faith journey and personal business. Jason has retired from football now; he’s in a much better place and has started his own fashion label.
We recommend you listen to section of an excellent radio interview with Jason on the BBC Website *
During this audio interview Jason realized that life wasn’t just work hard, play hard and start at square one again next Monday morning. There’s something more to life than possession and success and the accompanying party lifestyle that often follows. Rather, true inward contentment is the real treasure in this life. This makes me think of the line from Johnny Cash’s song: “One rich man is ten is hard to find compared to the man with a satisfied mind”.
Remember you too like, Jason Robinson, can beat depression. Don’t give up. Be inspired, provoked and sent into action by these stories.
Please leave a comment if you’ve read this story for affirmation, feedback and discussion and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, if you would like to submit a story which can change and influence other lives please send it via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org We really hope you do beat your depression.
How Jason Robinson Beat Depression
- Coming forward and sharing his heart
- Destigmatising depression publicly
- Inspired by team mate, peer support
- Christian conversion
Connect with Jason
Links, references and further reading
- 2003: Finding my Feet: My autobiography
- 2005: The real Jason Robinson