CIVIC CENTER — Chiara de Blasio, the mayor-elect's daughter who took a backseat to her younger brother Dante during the campaign season, opened up in a video released Christmas Eve, speaking about her struggle with drugs, alcohol and depression.
Chiara, 19, wearing one of her signature colorful headbands and pink lipgloss, speaks directly into the camera during a professionally-produced 5 minute video revealing how she got clean with the help of her parents.
"Every kid that grows up in New York, grows up really fast," she said. "I've had depression — clinical depression — for my entire adolescence. That's been something that I've always dealt with or not known how to deal with."
The video, which confirms what many close to the de Blasio family call an open secret about Chiara's longstanding struggle with drug and alcohol, comes on the heels of a sex scandal between de Blasio press aide Lis Smith and disgraced ex-governor Eliot Spitzer.
De Blasio and his family, including Chiara, briefly spoke to reporters outside their Park Slope home Tuesday, explaining that the timing of the video was prompted by the pressures of the holiday season, or as Bill de Blasio called it: "a time a year where these challenges are probably at their sharpest."
"I hope that everybody watches the video, I think it speaks for itself," Chiara added.
Chiara de Blasio was frequently present during de Blasio's campaign, but never spoke to the press or was featured with the same frequency as Dante. Dante — and his large afro — were largely credited with helping his dad shoot to the front of the pack.
In contrast, Bill de Blasio refused to say during the campaign where his daughter attended to college. His campaign got into a Twitter war of words with a New York Times reporter who retweeted a year-old de Blasio tweet that Chiara attended Santa Clara University in California.
Chiara said that she wanted to come forward about her problems because society has not created an environment where people can talk about their problems and seek help.
"I wanted to speak out because people are suffering from this disease and dying from this disease every day," she said.
She said that it was in college that her problem with depression and drugs came to a head — adding that she was unprepared for the emotional impact going away to school would have on her.
"It didn't stand out as a huge thing for me, but then it became a huge thing for me," she said.
Although she said she remained diligent in her studies, always attending class, she struggled with insecurity and compensated with alcohol and marijuana.
"I kept using this false rationality," she said. "I would say 'I won't drink" and I would smoke weed and then say 'I'm not going to smoke weed' and then I would drink... bartering for an equally bad outcome."
She said that she found help through her psychotherapist who recommended an outpatient treatment center that uses group therapy with people her own age.
"My mom and dad supported me," she said. "They were both emotionally committed to finding a way to get me better."
She said that she is much happier now that she is drug and alcohol free.
"I was able to participate in my dad's campaign and that was the greatest thing ever," she said. "Now, I'm doing well in school and exploring things beyond partying."