John Fetterman has opened up about why he admitted himself to the hospital for depression in February in a new interview with People. The 53-year-old Pennsylvania senator and his wife, Gisele Fetterman, shared that his mental health got drastically worse after winning the senatorial race during November’s midterm elections.
“After he won, you expect someone to be at their highest and really happy and celebratory,” Gisele told People. “And after winning, he seemed to be at the lowest. That was, for me, the moment of concern.”
Fetterman said his depression started affecting his health in significant ways. “I literally stopped eating and drinking and I wasn’t functional,” he said, adding that he began to miss doses of his heart medication, as well.
When loved ones started noticing his condition, Fetterman decided it was time to get professional help. “There wasn’t one person in my life that said, ‘Yeah, you seem really great. You sound fine here.’” This included his three young children, he explained, noticing that even his eight-year-old knew something was up.
This is what led him to Walter Reed Medical Center’s neuropsychiatry unit, where he spent 44 days in treatment. This included daily talk therapy, trying out different medications, exercising, and educating himself on clinical depression. “The conversation I had with my team and my family is that I’ve got to do something or it could end in the most awful way,” Fetterman said. “I realized [self-harm] could be an option.”
Gisele said she felt immensely relieved when her husband announced his decision to seek help. “I think we always read in the news about when someone has done something terrible and tragic, and I would love to read more stories about someone saying, ‘Hey, I just checked myself in to get help,’ instead of the opposite,” she said.
Now, Fetterman wants to use his story to educate other people. “I don’t care if you’re a liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat, we can all be depressed,” he said, “Address your depression. I was skeptical it would make anything better, but it did.”
If you or someone you love is in a crisis, you can get support by calling 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or by texting HOME to 741-741, the Crisis Text Line.