Select Page

John Fetterman, Senator, seeks help for depression. Why it matters.

John Fetterman, Senator, seeks help for depression.  Why it matters.

When Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., checked in at Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment for clinical depression, the first thing I thought was, Good for him. And then, wow: it’s hard to ask for help, to tell your boss that you need help and a break. For everyone else, it’s even harder to know you need help when you might not be ready to talk about it.

I know that.

My mother killed herself almost 11 years ago.

On the fourth Thursday of April 2012, she jumped into the Grand Canyon.

My mother had not told us that she was suffering. She did this quietly, sometimes hidden behind a smile, sometimes busy with so much partying, traveling and taking care of her grandchildren. Sometimes behind a too big “Hello”.

We didn’t know everything she was going through – she only shared tiny bits of her pain with different people in her life, and none of us knew the whole picture or the extent.

One of her final notes to us read, “I was too proud to admit I needed help a long time ago” and “I think I was ill for a very long time and didn’t take care of myself.”

It still hurts to read that note today. To share.

How could this amazing woman, a retired nurse and hospital administrator who skied in the Alps, went scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, who seemed to love nothing more than snuggling and reading books with my four children?

She didn’t think anyone could help her. She was afraid to ask for help.

And it’s easy now to say we’d all help. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 2020 Harris Poll, more than 9 in 10 people say they want to help someone in their life who is having suicidal thoughts. But of those who are struggling, nearly 7 in 10 say what stops them asking for help or sharing is shame and fear of judgment or not knowing what to say.

I understand that. I was there too.

Despite the many people I have to walk or eat with, from friends liking my photos on Instagram, there are still times I feel like I can’t tell anyone exactly how I feel about myself don’t do it I don’t want to call work and say I’m just not feeling well and maybe I need a day.

We should strive for a time when it is not bold to ask for help. That it’s as simple as going to the doctor when you have a chest or stomach pain, or telling your boss to stay home because congestion and a cough are consuming you.

You shouldn’t feel awkward sharing something, wondering if you’ll put off telling your friends, or trusting your boss to help you put your work life on hold (if you do that much lucky to have family vacations).. It’s hard to say how you feel and wonder if it will stop people from thinking twice before picking you on something — whether it’s a Senate committee or a job promotion.

But the reality is – we’re not there yet. We still say mental health issues – as if it were all one thing. We’re still afraid there’s no one out there, although I can assure you there is.

My mother didn’t think she had anyone.

It ended up taking 18 People who brought my mother home – from the rangers looking for her to the helicopter pilot who pulled her body out of the canyon. Eighteen people took care of her when they didn’t know her – when she wasn’t here to tell her anymore. I can only hope that anyone who thinks they’re alone, whose brain isn’t letting them see clearly, whose depression has taken hold, knows about the 18 people and that someone else is out there, someone else caring.

It’s true: Telling your story is brave. Asking for help is brave.

We shouldn’t have to tell our stories to get people to change the way they think about mental health, to change the way they think.

But until then we will.

I shall.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call or text the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day, 988, or chat online at

Laura Trujillo is Editor-in-Chief of Life and Entertainment and the author of Stepping Back from the Ledge: A Daughter’s Search for Truth and Renewal (Random House, 2022).

What is languishing? Alone? A mental health glossary to explain what you’re feeling

About The Author

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Recent Videos