Sen. John Fetterman: I was ‘indifferent’ to whether I lived or died

Jonathan D. Salant
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman said he was “indifferent” to whether he lived or died before he checked into a Washington-area hospital to be treated for depression.

Fetterman, who was discharged from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Friday, said on CBS Sunday Morning that he was agnostic about living at the height of his depression.

“I never had any self harm, but I was indifferent,” he said Sunday. “My message isn’t political. I’m just somebody who’s suffering from depression.”

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania) in the Old Senate Chamber for the ceremonial swearing in on Jan. 3, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/TNS)

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After leaving the hospital, Fetterman —  a York County native who graduated from Central York High School — returned to Braddock, where he will remain until the U.S. Senate returns from its two-week recess for Easter and Passover during the week of April 17, according to a news release from his office.

Fetterman suffered a stroke during his successful run for the Senate but said severe depression set in after his victory. That’s not uncommon in stroke victims.

“I had stopped leaving my bed,” he said. “I had stopped eating. I was dropping weight. I had stopped engaging some of the things that I love in my life.”

Fetterman's depression was in remission, said Dr. David Williamson, head of the team that treated him at Walter Reed, in the release.

Fetterman said he took no joy from last November’s victory, where he flipped the Senate seat previously held by retiring Republican Pat Toomey.

“You just won the biggest race, you know, 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 said he checked into the hospital on his son’s 14th birthday.

“I hope that for the rest of his life his birthday is joyous and you don’t have to remember that your father was admitted,” he said, his voice cracking in the interview.

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Fetterman said his goal was to make up that lost celebratory dinner.

“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 checked myself in for depression, and being the kind of dad, the kind of husband, and the kind of senator that Pennsylvania deserves,” he said. “Truly, that’s what my aspiration is.”