The Washington Post

Jesse Jackson Jr. ‘debilitated by depression,’ wife says

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s wife has shed some light on the Illinois Democrat’s sudden disappearance and ongoing health problems.

The congressman is “completely debilitated by depression,” Sandi Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times. She said her husband collapsed from exhaustion on June 10 in Washington and was taken by his father and brother to George Washington University Hospital. He has been in a “news blackout” since.

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) appears on the U.S. Capitol steps in Washington in this December 2, 2011 file photo. (YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)

It was there that the possibility arose that Jackson’s depression was related to malnutrition, sparked by a weight-loss procedure he underwent in 2004 known as the duodenal switch.

“They are now trying to find out if his depression, which has not yet been diagnosed as a bipolar disorder, is connected to the weight-loss surgery,” Sandi Jackson said. “We don’t know.”

But, she said, “His body was just worn out. I never really wanted him to have the gastric surgery in the first place.”

The lawmaker went to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for further screening, where his wife said “they are increasing his depression medication to therapeutic levels” and running tests.

She added that she fully expects her husband to “return to work” as soon as the doctors give him the go-ahead.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, the congressman’s father, said Saturday that his son is “taking his treatment” and will not retire, but “we can’t put a timetable on it.”

Information about Jackson’s condition has come out in dribbles since his mid-June disappearance.

The lawmaker’s office first acknowledged Jackson’s absence on June 25, saying he was taking a medical leave of absence for “exhaustion.” A new statement released July 5 added that Jackson was struggling with “physical and emotional ailments.” On July 27, the Mayo Clinic released a statement from the congressman was adding that he was being treated for “depression and gastrointestinal issues.”

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.


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