Book excerpt: 'Victoria's Voice: Our Daughter's Losing Battle with Drug Abuse'

This is an excerpt of a new book by David and Jackie Siegel, available now.

The following is an excerpt of "Victoria's Voice: Our Daughter's Losing Battle with Drug Abuse" by David and Jackie Siegel, published with permission.


by Jackie Siegel

Losing my daughter Victoria “Rikki” Siegel when she was just 18 years old was the most devastating event in my life. When Victoria passed away on June 6, 2015, my world changed forever.

Sometimes the struggle to go on is overwhelming. Victoria’s room—and everything in it—remains exactly as it was. I sometimes sit on her bed and imagine that she is still here.

Victoria was independent, and she loved attention. She was smart beyond her years. She was always very artistic. I remember when she was only about a year and a half old, I put a pen in her hand. Before she could even write, she could draw perfect circles. She also loved to paint.

Victoria was a very good big sister to her three younger brothers and three younger sisters. She loved taking care of people, and she also loved taking care of animals, especially her favorite rescue dog, Zen. She volunteered often at a local animal shelter. She was a free-spirited, happy, hippie pre-teen.

But that all changed—slowly and almost imperceptibly. When Victoria was around 15 years old, she started to have anxiety. She didn’t like our family being a part of the movie "The Queen of Versailles." Plus, she was being bullied in school, especially by the girls.

I took Victoria to see a psychiatrist, and he prescribed Xanax. Little did we know at the time that this was the event that would seal her fate.

Victoria became more and more withdrawn. She stopped spending as much time with us. She struggled in school and with her friends.

She was able to graduate from high school, but right after that, she moved into a guest house outside of our home. In hindsight, you might wonder how I couldn’t have known how addicted she was. But I didn’t. All of the warning signs were there, but I just didn’t see them. Teens can be masters of deception.

Victoria’s dad, David Siegel, and I only became aware of the full extent of her drug use when we read about it in her diary, which she had kept hidden in her room. After Victoria died, her ex-boyfriend Matt forwarded the text at left to us that she wanted us to read if she was no longer here.

Text forwarded from Matt:

I just fell into a deep sleep dreaming sweet dreams and knowing how much you love me and I’ll always be with you. Take my journal in my nightstand drawer. The fat one I always use. I’ve never shown anyone my journal but there’s no one else I would rather pass it onto than you. My business is everyone else’s business now and I’m ok with that mom ? hey maybe you can publish my teenage journal and bump up your career. If it worked out I’d b so proud of u. I’ll always be proud of you And I’ll be right beside you when u win your first Grammy award. U won’t be able to see me, but I’m sure you’ll feel my peaceful presence holding your hand on stage. Now don’t freak out I’m only trying to let you know I’m there for u. Always have been, always will be.

When I learned about Victoria’s diary, I felt an overwhelming sadness. I found her diary right where the text described: in her nightstand drawer to the left of her bed. I carefully took the diary out of the drawer. My heart was pounding. With shaking hands, I held Victoria’s diary, and I read it.

And it broke my heart.

I couldn’t believe how much Victoria had suffered. Her life was dark. She felt she was never good enough. After reading Victoria’s diary, I felt like I knew my daughter better than I had when she was alive.

With a very heavy heart, I went to the living room, where David was reading, and I told him about the diary. He said he couldn’t bear to read it.

Victoria had said in her text that she hoped her diary could be published to help other people who are struggling with addiction. She would have wanted to help them—to make them know that they aren’t alone and to encourage them to get help. To get well. To be happy.

The heartbreak we have gone through losing Victoria is immeasurable. David and I don’t want a single other family to go through this pain. That’s why we have decided to honor Victoria’s wishes and publish her diary. We feel that this is a way for Victoria to reach out after her death. Her words won’t die; they will live forever.

As a mother, I wouldn’t have ever wanted to expose Victoria’s personal, most intimate, deepest thoughts. But because of her text, I’m following her wishes. It took me more than three years to be able to share her intimate thoughts with the rest of the world.

David also wanted me to carry out Victoria’s final wishes so that her words will live on. Now I’m ready to share her legacy to save lives.

This book shares the story of how a beautiful, smart, funny girl with everything to live for—and despite her family’s help, love, and support—became dependent on drugs.This book details a story about teenage life—its celebrations and craziness, dreams and nightmares, hopes and addictions.

I hope this book serves as an eye-opener to parents that their teens could be experiencing these dark thoughts right under their noses—which is what happened to us. I also hope this book shows teens that they are not alone in their thoughts.