Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman admitted he welcomed death during his six-week hospital stay for depression and revealed that he recorded a goodbye message to his children after suffering a stroke last spring.
Fetterman was profiled for a cover story for Time magazine this month and said it was his debate against Republican Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz that led to his depressive episode.
The late October debate showcased Fetterman garbling several answers and giving a nonsensical answer about fracking – putting the after-effects of the stroke he suffered in May on national display, as he ran in the most closely watched U.S. Senate race of the 2022 cycle.
‘The debate lit the mitch. Excuse me – that should be lit the mitch,’ he told Time’s Molly Ball. ‘Lit the match,’ he got out on the third try.
The senator is still suffering from auditory processing issues 14 months after the stroke.
Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman spoke to Time magazine for a cover story about his hospitalization for depression. He’s pictured over the weekend at a Pride festival in central Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Senate hopeful John Fetterman at points struggled to get through his hour-long debate with Republican Dr. Mehmet Oz in late October – as the after-effects of his May stroke were on full display. He points to the episode as what was a breaking point for his depression
While the debate against Oz was a breaking point, the January suicide of New York Times journalist Blake Hounshell – who Fetterman knew personally – hit Fetterman hard and contributed to his decision to seek help.
The 44-year-old Hounshell left behind a wife and two children.
The people closest to Fetterman always sensed there was a darkness to him, Ball wrote.
‘He’d be like, “I’m not too sad, you’re too happy.” He was just very empathetic, I think, and he carried the pain of so many. I thought of him as melancholic – I always loved Abraham Lincoln, and historians would call him melancholy, which we later learned was really clinical depression. And I thought, oh, he’s my Abraham Lincoln. It wasn’t something I wanted to change about him,’ his wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman told the magazine.
Just days before the Democratic primary, Fetterman encountered his first major challenge in a year’s time – the stroke.
On the campaign trail near Lancaster, Gisele noticed that her husband’s face started slumping and drove him immediately to a hospital.
He easily won the Democratic primary and spent the day of his victory anesthetized, having a pacemaker installed.
Time reported that Fetterman recorded a video message to his children – Karl, 14, Grace, 11 and August, 9 – in case he died.
Fetterman stayed off the campaign trail for most of the summe to recover from the stroke.
By August, however, he had returned and was able to get through a standard stump speech, making some mistakes, but the debate was the event that really highlighted how much progress he still had to make to make a full stroke recovery.
Despite the debate performance, Fetterman beat Oz, the Trump-backed TV doctor, by five points.
Fetterman (left) and his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman (right) while getting treatment for depression at Walter Reed in March
John and Gisele Fetterman leaving their polling place in Braddock, Pennsylvania on election day 2022
His victory was announced around 1 a.m. on election night.
Thinking it would take days to count the votes, Time reported that Fetterman didn’t have a victory speech ready.
‘We launched this campaign almost two years ago – and we had our slogan – and it’s on every one of those signs right now: every county, every vote,’ Fetterman said to a rowdy crowd still gathered at Stage AE in Pittsburgh. ‘And that’s exactly what happened – we jammed them up. We held the line.’
‘I never expected that we would turn these red counties blue, but we did what we needed to do,’ he continued.
‘And that’s why tonight I’ll be the next U.S. senator from Pennsylvania,’ Fetterman added.
After the race wrapped up, the depression really sunk in.
Fetterman recalled feeling listless about going to freshman orientation, with Gisele forcing him to go.
‘Think of the insanity of that,’ he said. ‘I work for two years. And at the end of that, after nearly dying, after the most infamous debate in American politics, I was not going to show up for orientation.’
‘That’s what depression does,’ he added.
Fetterman said he didn’t actively contemplate suicide, but that he would have welcomed death.
‘I didn’t think I could be fixed,’ he said. ‘If the doctor said, oh, by the way, you have six months left, I would have been like, OK, whatever,’ the Pennsylvania lawmaker said. ‘That’s how bleak it was.’
He told Time he was lucky to have survived.
He was diagnosed with depression by Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, after being hospitalized in February for what he thought might be another stroke.
Monahan recommended impatient treatment at Walter Reed.
Staff and family members gave him an ‘intervention,’ Fetterman said, until he agreed to get the treatment.
‘I will always remember walking to his car parked a block away, thinking, “Please don’t change your mind,”‘ staffer Adam Jentleson recalled. ‘He’s a large man, and if he decided he didn’t want to go, there was going to be nothing me and Bobby could do about it,’ Jentleson said, referencing another Fetterman staffer, Bobby Maggio.
Time reported that Fetterman got worse before he got better.
‘His normally bare head grew fuzzy; his fingernails were like claws; he didn’t get out of his pajamas. Seeing his face in the mirror, he didn’t recognize himself. He was consumed with self-loathing, convinced his own family wanted nothing to do with him,’ Ball wrote.
Doctors did a deep-dive into Fetterman’s health and realized that he was hard-of-hearing, which made things more difficult as he recovered from the stroke, so was given hearing aids.
He’d lost so much weight that his heart medicine’s dosage was too high.
With medication, Fetterman improved – with his doctor now considering his depression to be in remission.
‘My message is, I don’t care if you’re a Trumper, MAGA, or hard leftist, or anyone in between. Depression comes across the spectrum, and get help with it,’ Fetterman told Time. ‘It’s not a Democratic senator from Pennsylvania saying this. No, I’m just a husband and a father, somebody that was suffering from depression and got help … before it was too late.’
‘Before some things could have – damage that can’t be undone. And I would just implore anybody to get help. Because it can work. It worked. And I’m so grateful,’ he added.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk