Sen. John Fetterman spoke about his battle with depression and his continuing recovery from a stroke for the first time since checking himself into the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in February.
Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, spoke to Jane Pauley of CBS Sunday Morning about the depths of his depression and how he had become “indifferent” about living.
“If the doctor said, ‘Gee, you have 18 months to live,’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah. Okay, well, that’s how things go,’” Fetterman said about his feelings.
The senator, who was discharged last week, said doctors discovered a serious hearing deficit in the way his brain processes spoken language, which occurred after his stroke during the campaign season last year.
“When I talk, what do you hear?” Pauley asked the senator.
“I hear you talking,” Fetterman responded. “And I can understand much of what you’re saying. But my hearing has a deficiency that makes it difficult for me to fully understand 100% of it.”
Although Fetterman said the issue brought difficulties on the campaign trail, he defended his decision to stay in the race.
He ultimately defeated opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz and flipped the Senate seat formerly held by Republican Pat Toomey.
Although victorious, Fetterman continued to have bouts of depression.
“It’s like, you just won the biggest, you know, race in the country,” he said. “And the whole thing about depression is… that objectively, you may have won, but depression can absolutely convince you that you actually lost.
“And that’s exactly what happened. And that was the start of a downward spiral,” Fetterman added.
Fetterman said his depression sank to new depths as he waited to be sworn in, explaining that in the time between, he stopped getting out of bed and eating.
“I was dropping weight. I had stopped engaging some of the, most things that I love in my life,” he said.
Fetterman also agreed with statements from others who described him as “miserable” and “lost” during the Senate’s swearing-in ceremony on Jan 3.
He also described his demeanor as “robotic” during his first few weeks in office, just doing as his staff instructed him.
Fetterman ultimately said he regretted not getting the help he needed sooner because he ended up checking into Walter Reed on the day of his son’s 14th birthday.
When asked if he would continue his career in politics following his term as senator, Fetterman dodged the question, instead saying he was committing himself to his family.
“You know, my aspiration is to take my son to the restaurant that we were supposed to go to during his birthday but couldn’t, because I had checked myself in for depression,” he said. “And being the kind of dad, the kind of husband, and the kind of senator that Pennsylvania deserves, you know, that’s truly, that’s what my aspiration is.”
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