Chiara de Blasio honored for taking addiction story public

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, right, hug their daughter, Chiara de Blasio, left, before she received a special recognition award at the National Council for Behavioral Health's Annual Conference. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Patrick Smith

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Chiara de Blasio's struggles with addiction and depression came to a head last spring -- in the midst of her father's mayoral campaign -- and her ability to speak about them now as a sober and healthy young woman is "nothing other than a miracle," she said Tuesday.

"One year ago, I was lost, confused and overpowered by depression, anxiety, addiction and fear," de Blasio, 19, said at a mental health awareness event near Washington, D.C. "One year ago, life didn't seem worthwhile."

Chiara, the elder of Mayor Bill de Blasio's two teenagers, received an award for her advocacy at a National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day event hosted in National Harbor, Maryland, by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Her substance abuse problems and subsequent recovery were revealed in a Web video in December commissioned by her parents.

In an essay published Tuesday on the lifestyle website xoJane.com, the college sophomore noted she was raised in an "amazing, unconditionally loving, and unbroken family" and attended good schools. She believes it is her genetic makeup that makes her susceptible.

"I was not born a happy person," she wrote. "Some people believe that it is impossible for people who come from backgrounds like mine to suffer from the diseases of depression and addiction."

She shared some healthy coping mechanisms: meditating, exercising, getting out of bed even when she doesn't want to and writing poetry. "I practice gratitude by counting my blessings; no matter what's wrong, there's always something right."

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Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray also spoke, with the first lady noting that Chiara opened up to her family last summer.

The mayor recalled the affliction of his father, Warren Wilhelm Sr., who committed suicide in 1979 when de Blasio was 18.

"We faced these demons before," the mayor said. "My own father was an alcoholic. He could not, tragically, find his way to this kind of help, this kind of recovery. But his granddaughter could, and she did."

Chiara de Blasio said her father gives her "more love and support than I could ask for" even while "running the biggest city in the world."

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