In a candid Instagram video, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum opened up about therapy, rehab and the moments that prompted him to withdraw from public life. In March, the rising Democratic star took a step back from the spotlight, saying that he would be using the time to repair his family and work on himself.

“I know it’s been a while since we had an opportunity to connect,” Gillum started his 11-minute address to followers and supporters. “But as you know, I took some time away to work on myself, deal with some issues that I was having.”

Gillum admitted that he checked himself into rehab to focus on his issues with alcoholism, noting that his father had his own struggles with the substance and later passed from complications from the “deadly addiction.” Having been raised by a man who battled his own demons, the husband and father of three says he knows the toll it can take on both the individual grappling with it and on their family. He also knows firsthand the toll it takes on the dreams, hopes and ambitions of those who are unable to take control of it. That’s why he says he knew he had to do something about it. 

In addition to rehab, Gillum also shares that he got into therapy to talk through what was going on with him, admitting that he “totally underestimated how losing the race for governor impacted my life.” Gillum says he wasn’t prepared to talk about his loss to Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Florida gubernatorial race, because it was a “constant reminder of failure, reminder that I had let so many people down.” But in an attempt to quiet the voices that said he “wasn’t enough,” Gillum turned toward alcohol and keeping busy instead of dealing with his own mental deterioration. 

Andrew Gillum at BET event
LOS ANGELES – FEBRUARY 20: Andrew Gillum speaks onstage during META – Convened by BET Networks at The Edition Hotel on February 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo: Robin L Marshall/Getty Images for BET)

Wearing a mask and suffering in silence is something that the progressive Democrat insists is taking lives. And he cautions those who may be battling some of the same issues he has to deal with those problems head on and seek help immediately. “Don’t be like me. Don’t suffer in silence,” Gillum warns. “Get access to the help you need.”

Though Gillum acknowledges that he is disappointed that he can’t be there for his community and the state of Florida during a trying time such as the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing fight for the protection of Black lives, he says he is giving up the need to perpetuate perfection and strength. He is focused on continuing his journey, loving on his family and erasing the embarrassment and shame stemming from the drug and alcohol–fueled Miami Beach incident that landed him in the headlines.

As Gillum put it, his better days are still in front him.

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