GUEST COLUMN: Why I'm Taking a Break from Answering Media Questions To Focus on Mental Health and Mindfulness

My self-care sabbatical starts now. Thanks in advance for your understanding.

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August 19, 2021

My fellow Americans,

It might surprise you to learn the past few days have been very challenging for me in terms of my mental and emotional well-being. I do my best to project strength and competence in public, but it's not always as easy as I make it look. Yes, I'm the president of the United States and commander in chief of the armed forces, but I'm also a human being.

Watching the heroic actions of female athletes such as Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles has inspired me to reevaluate the meaning of strength and to embrace the concept of self-care. That is why I have decided, for the first time in my 50-year career as a public servant, to put myself first, to focus on my mental health and work on my mindfulness. My self-care sabbatical starts now.

Until further notice, I will no longer be answering questions from the White House press corps. Because my recent efforts to decompress and tend to my heartspace at Camp David were so crudely interrupted, I have decided to spend a long weekend in Delaware, the safest space I've ever known. Alas, I can't even take the train anymore on account of my job, which my therapist says has been a major contributor to my depression. So believe me, when I hear the American people are suffering out there, I feel your pain.

This is not an attack on the media. But even if it was, what are they going to do about it, huh? They all voted for me, and they'll do it again. Maybe they'll tweet about it, the way they complain to the airlines like entitled children when their flight is delayed. Look, I know most journalists genuinely believe the work they do is vital to the functioning of our democracy. Honestly, folks, that couldn't be further from the truth.

Take it from me, someone who's been doing this for a long time. Reporters are constantly whinging about how hard it is to be a journalist who covers Donald Trump and the COVID-19 pandemic. As my cousin Mickey used to say: "Horse pucky!" They couldn't care less about the mental anguish they inflict on our athletes, politicians, and celebrities. They would crumble if the shoe was on the other foot—if they were the ones forced to stand up in front of a boisterous mob and be bombarded with ridiculous questions like "Where's Hunter? or "What's your plan for Afghanistan?"

Journalists are already complaining about my self-care journey: "Today would be a great day for journalists to be able to ask the president of the United States questions about Afghanistan." Obsessed much? Look, they're welcome to hop on a plane at anytime to go see for themselves. I just did an entire interview with George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative who actually cares about my feelings. What more do they want?

Have they learned nothing from the courageous athletes and celebrities bringing self care to the forefront of the national conversation? To paraphrase the Olympic gymnast Simone Biles: "I say put mental health first. Because if you don't, then you're not going to enjoy [being president] and you're not going to succeed as much as you want to. So it's OK sometimes to even sit out the big [foreign policy disasters] to focus on yourself."

So much wisdom, and at such a young age. I probably shouldn't say this, but I bet her hair smells fantastic. Maybe that's something I can focus on in the coming days to clear my mind of negativity. I'm also looking forward to assembling the GE ES44AC model train Dr. Jill got me for our anniversary. We'll speak again I'm sure before my term is up. In the meantime, just don't expect too much from me.

Joseph R. Biden, 78, is a Washington, D.C., resident. He is the father of Hunter Biden, a renowned artist, energy executive, and gentleman's club patron.