Democrat John Fetterman, from Pennsylvania, left the Senate in the middle of February to seek treatment for clinical depression. He feels that he should be open and honest about the illness.
After it nearly destroyed his candidature, Fetterman didn’t want his stroke to define his time in the Senate. According to him, “Depression has kind of become like a policy [priority],” he told The Washington Post. “I want to do this if it helps even one person,” he stated.
He arrived in town in January to take over the crucial seat he had won for the Democrats. However, Fetterman’s depression was worsening, and he was still dealing with the symptoms of his stroke last May.
The senator-elect’s aides had trouble motivating him to work on his new position in the weeks following his election. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who had campaigned with the “big, bubbly” Fetterman, found his demeanor “kind of shocking” when his new colleague arrived in January. Murphy recalled and stated that the Fetterman he met differed from the past. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. (D) recollected Fetterman’s gloominess during the Senate Democrats’ daylong retreat on February 8.
Later, Fetterman received a stroke risk assessment and was admitted to George Washington University Hospital. He went to Walter Reed and stayed there for 44 days a week later.
He discovered in the hospital that he had hearing loss and required hearing aids in addition to having issues with auditory processing.
After his return, Fetterman was given a standing ovation by his fellow Democrats at this week’s Democratic caucus gathering, and they welcomed his homecoming.
Fetterman remarked, “I can’t tell you how moving it was. I would have been blown away if it was just warm, but a standing ovation and hugs and big shakes and everything — and it was just — I’m so grateful to our colleagues and to Leader [Chuck] Schumer,”
He pointed out that a few senators paid him visits while receiving care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, notably Republican Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama, Democratic Sens. Tina Smith of Minnesota, and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.
In November, Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor supported by Trump, lost to Fetterman. The Democrats celebrated their victory and used it to solidify their hold on the Senate further.
Fetterman, on his win, remarked, “After I won, I still felt that depression—like, I felt lost,” He admitted. “I wasn’t happy. It didn’t make me happy”. He stated how he never had the chance to recover from the stroke fully and his struggle with depression, stress, and other issues. He felt he was genuinely unable to address it.
He claimed that the stroke, combined with the stress of political campaigning and the endless attack of ads, created a “perfect storm.”
Fetterman didn’t hold back when discussing the suffering he and his family endured due to his depression. His eldest son’s 14th birthday was when he was admitted to the hospital. Fetterman expressed concern that his son will always link his birthday to the day his father admitted himself to the hospital.
According to Fetterman, the six weeks in therapy were “about me redeeming, trying to redeem myself in their eyes.” Fetterman stated that now that his depression was under control, he was thankful for everything.
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