The actress, who recently announced her departure from the daytime series, was just 19 years old starting an eventual 13-year run on Days when her father took his own life
Now the 32-year-old actress has shared how her dad's death by suicide led to that decision.
"I had always spoken to my dad about my dreams," wrote Banus, who played Gabi Hernandez, in an essay for Today. "He knew my ultimate goal is to create amazing stories and cultivate characters — to be on the big screen. That was part of why I walked away. He didn't stay to see his dreams realized — the depression took over. I need to reach mine for him, and me, and our family."
When Banus was 19 years old and just embarking on her time on Days, her mother called her to break the news of Banus's father's death.
"I handled it the best way I could as a 19-year-old, which was … not to tell anybody," she recalled. "A couple of days later I returned to set and life moved on. I buried my grief, I buried my anger. I buried my sadness. I put on a smile for a long time."
Therapy, Banus's husband Marlon Aquino and her time on Days helped her cope.
"When my character became a mom, I took a parenting class to prepare for the role, where I reflected on how the parenting done to me has molded me into the adult I became," she wrote. "Meeting other families impacted by suicide through my work with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has helped me move forward as well."
Banus wrote that losing her father "made me a more empathetic person" and "changed the way that I interact with people."
"I want them to know that I care," she continued. "I want them to know they are wanted, important, needed."
The actress had the support of Aquino, her mom and her sister — a.k.a. her "tripod" — when she decided to step away from Days.
"They understood," Banus wrote. "They'd seen me come home from work crying because I couldn't shake off something bad that had happened to Gabi. They'd seen me memorizing 60 pages a day and feeling like my head was going to explode. Their support is monumental and it's what makes me feel safe enough to take this risk."
Banus referred to Days as a "dream job" and hopes more await. "I want to leave a legacy for my family, honoring the sacrifices that my Cuban immigrant parents made for me so that I could pursue those dreams," she wrote.
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Also contributing to her decision to leave Days, which streams on Peacock, Banus wants to become a mother.
"My husband and I are trying to start a family, hopefully," she told TheWrap. "And that's another big factor in possibly just slowing down for a little bit and seeing kind of where this time takes me. But I'm also open to other opportunities and ready for big things. I'm just ready for something different."
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or go to 988lifeline.org.
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.