Speculation as to why Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. had been absent from congress since June 10, of this year has ended. According to the Mayo Clinic, where the congressman has been receiving treatment, he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
The congressman represents the south side of Chicago and surrounding suburbs. He announced his arrival at the clinic two weeks ago amid calls from his constituents and fellow Congress members to reveal more information about his condition and whereabouts. In a revised Statement put out by the Mayo Clinic on August 13, 2012 we learned that:
Congressman Jackson underwent bariatric surgery in 2004, specifically a duodenal switch. This type of surgery is increasingly common in the US and can change how the body absorbs food, liquids, vitamins, nutrients and medications.
Following extensive evaluation, Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. is undergoing treatment for Bipolar II depression at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Congressman Jackson is responding well to the treatment and regaining his strength.
Many Americans have bipolar disorder. Bipolar II disorder is a treatable condition that affects parts of the brain controlling emotion, thought and drive and is most likely caused by a complex set of genetic and environmental factors.
Congressman Jackson has asked Mayo Clinic to distribute this information on his behalf. He and his family remain grateful for support and prayers offered and received on his behalf.
Bipolar disorder, which is sometimes called manic depression, is marked by mood swings. Bipolar II is a less severe form of the disorder than bipolar I, according to the clinic.
While the clinic’s statement is easy enough to understand and digest, Marcia Purse’s article, published on about.com’s website, raises some important concerns. Purse claims “too much of that characterizing bipolar II as ‘less severe’ [are] ignoring the fact that bipolar II depression is more disabling than bipolar I depression. I would certainly hope to see reporters digging a little deeper instead of parroting the same tired and misleading descriptions of bipolar II.”
Douglas Belkin, who writes for the “Wall Street Journal” raised a few more questions, reporting that Jackson, 47, was first elected in 1995 and is facing re-election in November. He is the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation into allegations that his friend Raghuveer Nayak offered former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich as much as $6 million in campaign contributions in 2008 to appoint Jackson to fill the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
Nayak was arrested in June on unrelated charges. Jackson hasn’t been charged and has denied any wrongdoing.
The allegations about the Senate seat were followed by revelations about an extramarital affair Jackson had with a Washington, D.C., waitress. The congressman’s mother, wife of civil-rights leader Jesse Jackson, recently said her son had fallen short of his own expectations and was depressed, according to Belkin.
In light of these revelations and the congressman’s diagnosed condition, one can easily imagine the enormous pressure Jackson was under. Who wouldn’t snap under these circumstances. This is not to sweep under the rug his responsibility as a husband or public servant, however, before we jump to any premature conclusions, it would be much wiser to support him and his family as they struggle through tough times.
The Mayo clinic noted at the end of their statement that no time frame is specified for another update on Congressman Jackson’s bipolar condition.
Articles by D. Chandler, Douglas Belkin, and Marcia Purse contributed to this report.