Rep. Dan Kildee hopes to shatter any stigma around mental health by opening up about the “emotional and physical” challenges he’s experienced in the weeks since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The Michigan Democrat, 62, was among those in the House chamber when supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the formal certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died as a result of the attack.
Speaking to “NBC Nightly News” in an interview that aired Sunday, Kildee said he didn’t realize the scope of the violence until later that day when he reviewed some of the footage he’d shot on his cellphone.
“I thought it was fine,” Kildee explained. “It was after I got home, when I started looking at some of the video from the event — I had thought it was a few dozen people. It was hundreds and hundreds of violent people.”
“I had a lot of tension in my chest, and breathing was difficult,” he added, when asked how about how he felt after viewing the clips. “I became really irritable.”
At the suggestion of a fellow lawmaker, Kildee sought out Dr. Jim Gordon. The two have continued to meet regularly for weekly sessions that include meditation techniques.
Gordon ― who published his latest book, “Transforming Trauma: The Path to Hope and Healing,” in January ― said Kildee’s symptoms were similar to others with post-traumatic stress disorder, including those who witness school shootings or who live in war zones.
Response to Kildee’s interview on social media was mixed. “By sharing your story, you have helped many people,” one Twitter user wrote. “Your courage and generosity is inspiring.”
On Tuesday, Kildee shared some of the negative tweets he’d received, and he later vowed to continue speaking out regardless of any criticism he may encounter.
“I went public about my post-traumatic stress and seeing a therapist because we need to end the stigma around mental health,” he wrote on Twitter. “Too many people don’t seek help. That needs to change.”
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