NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The daughter of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has opened up about battling depression and substance abuse.
A five-minute video featuring 19-year-old Chiara de Blasio was released by de Blasio’s transition team Tuesday on YouTube.
Watch the entire video below:
As CBS 2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday, the last time New Yorkers saw Chiara de Blasio was on election night, as she and her family celebrated her father’s mayoral victory with their now-famous smackdown dance.
But their jubilance also hid private pain, as Chiara de Blasio was also dealing with a clinical depression she said she suffered, “for, like, my entire adolescence.”
Bill de Blasio and wife Chirlane McCray said in a statement their daughter “is courageously sharing her story” with the hope of helping others.
In the Christmas Eve confessional released by her parents, Chiara de Blasio opened up about her depression, an illness that she said drove her to substance abuse.
“It made it easier, the more I drank and did drugs to share common ground with people,” she said in the video.
Chiara de Blasio, now a college sophomore in California, revealed she battled her substance abuse demons at college and got help by seeing a therapist.
“I kind of just kept, like, reasoning using this really fake rationale that was so justified to me that I could keep doing this stuff and be like, ‘Oh, I won’t drink, and then I would just like, smoke weed.’ And then I would be like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to smoke weed, and then I’d just drink.’ Like, it was kind of just bartering for equally bad outcomes,” she said.
She said a therapist eventually referred her to an outpatient treatment center in New York City. She said she is now sober and was able to help in father’s campaign.
“Getting sober is always a positive thing and it’s not easy,” she said. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s so worth it.”
Having finished treatment, she is now urging others to get the same kind of help that she did.
“Removing substances from my life opened so many doors for me,” she said. “I wanted to speak out because so many people are suffering from this disease, dying from this disease every day and we really can’t do anything as a society to help those people until we start talking about it.”
The video, which also includes statistics from the U.S. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, ends with the message: “If you think you have a problem, don’t wait. Ask for help.”
There is also a link to ok2talk.org, a website dedicated to mental health issues among teens and young adults.
Kramer reported it was clear that the de Blasios thought long and hard about making Chiara de Blasio’s struggles public. The video was produced by the same company that did the mayor-elect’s campaign commercials.
Bill de Blasio and his wife admitted their first instinct was to protect Chiara de Blasio and help her privately with what they see as a “deeply personal struggle.”
At a news conference with Chiara and the rest of his family, de Blasio also expressed pride in what he said was his daughter’s courage.
“I think if you look at the video, it speaks to a whole set of challenges that we face in our society — that families face all the time – and she speaks to it with an incredible courage and clarity, and with a voice that I think really suggests an incredible wisdom for someone who’s only 19 years old,” he said.
Pundits said the family’s decision to make the information public and do it on Christmas Eve was smart and politically astute.
“It’s a very smart move,” said David Birdsell of Baruch College. “You take a well-produced video in the heart of the holiday season. People are having charitable thoughts – family-oriented thoughts. That’s the message that resonates here, and they got a chance to tell their story the way they see it.”
Drug experts also said Chiara de Blasio’s confession could prove helpful to others.
“It really may give somebody a little bit of a push to maybe not use, or maybe to fell that there’s hope, and that’s really important at this time,” said alcohol and substance abuse counslero Jean Mone.
Mayor-elect de Blasio said he thinks the holiday season is the perfect time to “be honest” about such issues, because it is the time of year when the challenges are “probably at their sharpest.” He said he thinks the biggest thing one can do to help someone with such problems is to talk openly about it.
“Her courage to speak out demonstrates a wisdom and maturity far beyond her 19 years,” they said in a statement. “We are grateful every day for her commitment to lifting up those who need to know that they are not alone. We are so proud of Chiara and love her dearly.”
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