Gillum addresses depression, alcoholism

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Former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum speaks during a press conference with the Florida Democratic Party and Forward Florida Action Partnership about registering voters in Florida at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida on May 16, 2019.
OCTAVIO JONES/TAMPA BAY TIMES/TNS

NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum emerged Monday from self-imposed political exile with a social media post addressing depression and alcoholism after a March incident involving a man who reportedly overdosed in a South Beach hotel room.

According to a police report, Gillum, who was in the room where suspected crystal meth  was found, was “unable to communicate with officers due to his inebriated state.”

After the March 12 episode, Gillum announced that he was going to a rehabilitation facility to deal with alcohol abuse. In an 11-minute video posted Monday on Instagram, Gillum – once viewed as a rising star on the national political scene – spoke about the impact of losing the 2018 governor’s race to Republican Ron DeSantis.

“I had totally underestimated the impact that losing the race for governor had had on my life, and on the way that those impacts started to show up in every aspect of my life,” Gillum, the father of three children, said.

“It was a constant reminder of failure and my own personal failures. … It was a reminder that I had let so many people down.” After narrowly losing the race, Gillum went on to work as a political analyst for CNN. But he said in Monday’s video that depression “became far too much for me to keep down.”

‘Deadly addiction’

Gillum noted that his father also suffered from alcoholism and died of complications related to “that deadly addiction.”

State campaign finance records show that the political committee associated with Gillum’s gubernatorial run has spent about $1 million on legal services since the November 2018 election.

In Monday’s video, Gillum urged other people struggling with alcoholism or depression to  seek help. Gillum, who will turn 41 on Saturday, did not elaborate on his plans for the future. But he told his Instagram followers to stay tuned.

“I hope that I’ll be able to share more layers that I’m developing and enveloping. I’m doing a lot of writing these days. I’m trying to put on paper a lot of what I’m experiencing right now,” Gillum said, adding that he hoped his writing would not just be cathartic for him but would also “help to serve as healing for others.”

The former Tallahassee mayor also praised his wife, R. Jai, calling her “a woman who knows everything that I am, and everything that I am not, and she chooses to love me.”

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