The wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) opened up for the first time about the mysterious and sudden withdrawal of her husband from public life, saying that he suffered from severe depression but that he did not, as some speculated, attempt suicide.
In an exclusive interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Sandi Jackson said that her husband was struggling to balance the tough rigors of his job with his personal life when, in mid June, he didn’t sound right during a phone conversation with his father. Jackson’s professional life was particularly stressful, as the Congressman was facing an ethics probe over his involvement in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s (D) attempt to sell President Obama’s old Senate seat. In that conversation, Jackson told his father he was,”so exhausted, he couldn’t take another step,” Jackson’s wife said.
At the urging of his father and a brother, Rep. Jackson sought treatment at George Washington Hospital in Washington, D.C. and later, at another treatment facility in Tucson, Arizona. There, doctors speculated that Jackson’s depression could be stemming from severe weight loss brought on by recent gastric surgery. Once that possibility had been raised, it was decided to admit Jackson to Minnesota’s presitigious Mayo Clinic for further testing.
Mrs. Jackson asserted that her husband did not, as some speculated, attempt suicide nor did he suffer from a drug addiction. Rather, she said, he simply suffered from a “collapse” due to his exhaustion.
Throughout the ordeal, those close to Jackson imposed a complete media blackout in hopes of helping his recovery—he would receive no news, and they would keep quiet about his condition. It was that blackout that fueled rampant speculation about Jackson’s condition in the first place, as the media sought to find out where Jackson had disappeared to and why his political circle had been so tight lipped about it.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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