Dallas County District Attorney Susan Hawk talked candidly for the first time about her battle with depression on Friday. Speaking to a large audience at a behavioral therapy seminar, the 45-year-old shared her struggle of her battle with mental illness.
Hawk is considered a hero to people who work in the mental health and addiction fields who were in town from across the country attending a behavioral health symposium.
“I had reached a point in my depression that I was helpless,” she told the crowd. “I was hopeless. I was worthless. I had nothing left to add.”
July 28, 2015 was the day Hawk planned to kill herself. Instead, her political consultant drove her to a Houston treatment facility that she credits with chasing the darkness away.
After nine weeks and two days, Hawk returned to work with reporters and cameras waiting.
“I thought ‘Why is the media here?’” Hawk recalled. “And I went ‘Oh s***. It’s me,’ and realizing what I was facing.”
Hawk said she regrets not revealing publicly what was going on when she went missing from work in July of last year.
“I wish I would have said, but I didn’t know what to say,” Hawk said. “Because I didn’t know what was wrong with me.”
Upon her return, Hawk faced a lawsuit to remove her as district attorney. The suit was filed by a former employee and claimed Hawk was mentally unfit to serve.
“The fact that we can say someone who has major depressive disorder or who is mentally ill cannot be successful is insulting,” Hawk told the crowd as they erupted in applause.
The suit was dismissed, but Hawk said people she thought were friends are now gone. Hawk said she understands that, for some, it was too much.
The first female Dallas County District Attorney says now she'll work to make others understand mental illness is just that -- an illness.
“The stigma that is attached to it still exists,” said Hawk to the crowd. “Together, we can fight that. I’m not backing down away from it, and I will continue to fight that.”
Hawk plans to lobby the legislature to allocate more funds to make quality treatment more accessible to those who need it. She promises to continue telling her story everywhere she can to help others understand.