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The mother-of-three, who won the very first season of the cooking competition back in 2009, got emotional during Thursday night’s episode when speaking about the highs and lows in her life.
“In my mind, I really do wonder why I’ve come back to do this,” she said, adding that she could never forget how “frightened” she was on the show 13 years ago.
Julie went on to say that she was really grateful for the “amazing highs” in her life since winning MasterChef - including publishing six cookbooks, appearing on various television programs, spending four years on breakfast radio and establishing a cooking school - but there have also been “some struggles as well”.
“I've really had to do some serious assessment of my mental health and wellbeing,” she detailed.
“I had reached a point in my life where I had lost my joy. I had to give up my job on the radio, I couldn't do that anymore. And I actually couldn't set foot in my kitchen.
“I think maybe I have done everything that I was here to do and I have achieved everything that's possible for me to achieve. So this for me is an opportunity just to see if there is another chapter. If there's more.”
‘Tough couple of years’
Later in the episode, Julie ended up winning the season’s first immunity challenge after wowing the judges with her prawn and chorizo paella.
She quickly teared up when speaking with judges Andy Allen, Melissa Leong and Jock Zonfrillo about her journey and decision to come back.
“When the phone call came to do this, I didn’t know if I could,” she said.
“It’s been a tough couple of years, and I didn’t know if I was able to come back into this environment. My experience last time was very much that I fell over again and again, and I think I got to the end because every time I fell down I got back up.
“So the phone call to come here was a bit like… It was just like the universe saying, ‘It’s time to get back up’.”
Speaking to the cameras she added: “Maybe I’m not done, maybe there’s more for me.”
— MasterChef Australia (@masterchefau) April 21, 2022
‘I just had nothing left’
Julie revealed back in 2020 on her radio show that she had spent over a month in a mental health facility to treat her depression and anxiety.
“I felt like I was trapped under a wet woollen blanket and every move was a massive effort,” she explained at the time. “Anxiety kept coursing through me like electricity. Eventually, all of this became so much that I just had nothing left.”
Mental health support for yourself or a loved one can be found by calling Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Online support is available via Beyond Blue.
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