Senator John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, shared his greatest “aspiration” in his first interview since being being treated for clinical depression earlier this year.
Fetterman checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on February 15 for clinical depression. During the 2022 midterms, when Fetterman ran for a battleground Senate seat in Pennsylvania, his health became a concern to many voters after he suffered a stroke last May.
He opened up about his challenges with depression in an interview with CBS News that aired Sunday morning. During the interview, he outlined the “downward spiral” that led to his hospitalization and shared what his hopes are now since being formally discharged.
“My aspiration is to take my son to the restaurant that we were supposed to go during his birthday, but couldn’t because I had checked myself in for depression,” he said. “Being the kind of dad, the kind of husband, and the kind of senator that Pennsylvania deserves. Truly, that’s what my aspiration is.”
Fetterman said he felt “sad” over being admitted on his son’s birthday.
“It makes me sad that the day that I go in was my son’s birthday. And I hope that for the rest of his life his birthday will be joyous, and you don’t have to remember that your father was admitted,” he added.
Fetterman’s hospitalization followed his victory against Dr. Mehmet Oz, his Republican opponent. The election was one of the most closely watched races of the midterms, with Republicans making Fetterman’s health a campaign issue. Despite this, Fetterman won comfortably by about 5 percentage points, helping his party defy expectations to expand their majority in the chamber.
He also explained on Sunday how depression manifested itself after his win.
“You just won the biggest race in the country, and the whole thing about depression is that objectively, you may have won, but depression can absolutely convince you that you actually lost,” Fetterman said. “And that’s exactly what happened, and that was the start of a downward spiral.”
Fetterman’s office announced that the senator returned home on Friday. He is expected to remain in his hometown of Braddock, Pennsylvania, until the Senate reconvenes on April 17.
“I am so happy to be home,” Fetterman said in a statement following his release. “I’m excited to be the father and husband I want to be, and the senator Pennsylvania deserves. Pennsylvanians have always had my back, and I will always have theirs.”
Dr. David Williamson, Walter Reed’s neuropsychiatry chief and medical director, said in a press release from Fetterman’s office that the senator suffered “severe symptoms of depression” when he was first admitted, including “low energy and motivation, minimal speech, poor sleep, slowed thinking, slowed movement, feelings of guilt and worthlessness,” although without any “suicidal ideation.”
Newsweek reached out to Fetterman’s office for further comment.