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 Marcia Purse

Jesse Jackson, Jr. reveals his illness is Bipolar II

By August 14, 2012

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There was a lot of speculation about what caused Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., to take medical leave in early June without giving any details - his office didn't even say he was on leave until two weeks later.

In the last two weeks, though, a great deal more information came out, culminating in the announcement yesterday, via a press release from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, that Jackson is being treated for bipolar II depression.

Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Most press outlets have basically repeated the gist of that press release, sometimes with a little added information about bipolar disorder - too much of that characterizing bipolar II as "less severe" and 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.

The truth: Evidence shows Bipolar II is as disabling as Bipolar I

A few columnists have criticized Jackson for not instantly putting out precise information as to what was wrong with him, saying he should have done this to help reduce the stigma of mental illness. My take on this? Give the man a break. Given what's happened in the past to politicians who have acknowledged having bouts of depression, having "had counseling," and the like, is it any wonder his office and his family didn't give out the diagnosis as soon as they knew it?

As for Jackson himself, I very much doubt that his first thought when he collapsed at home was, "I've got to get a press release out right away." Nor should he have given it much thought during the weeks that followed. His job, during that period, was to work at healing. To condemn a man having a breakdown for not going public instantaneously about the reasons is absurd.

Congressman Jackson has a tough road ahead, and I wish him all the best.

Bipolar Biography: Jesse Jackson, Jr. - His Life and His Bipolar Disorder.

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August 14, 2012 at 12:53 pm
(1) nancy reid says:

Because he is a politician who is involved in some controversy many people believe that he is inventing an illness to get a pass. Is it a trend that people do stupid things like Weiner twitting his private parts and then they get sent off to some type of rehab? The problem is that mental health illnesses are not taken seriously. So many people just think it is an excuse for bad behavior.

August 14, 2012 at 2:31 pm
(2) Wendy says:

When I first heard the news, I was actually excited for him. As I would have been for myself now that I know the reasons why I was acting like a crazy person and driving everyone insane around me..
He should NOT be ashamed to have BPII! In fact, fly a banner off the tallest building, with bullhorn in hand and say that he has BPII! Maybe someone will hear or listen to Mr. Jackson and say to themselves, hey, if you can do it, I can too! Or have the class to say to him, I don’t know about this illness, can you explain it to me? How are you feeling? Etc.
Good luck Mr. Jackson you can do it!

August 14, 2012 at 7:09 pm
(3) Anonymous says:

Thank you so much for emphasizing that BPII is not a mild or less severe form of bipolar. I have been on federal disability (which requires exhaustive medical evaluations about level of functioning and ability to work) since 2006. I have been hospitalized four times since 2004. My illness has led to one lost career, many broken relationships, and extreme poverty (I currently call a small camper “home.” Nothing mild about what I’ve been through and what I battle every day.

August 15, 2012 at 4:28 am
(4) Margarida Gita Grant says:

I have been Bipolar II for many years. I just lost my father which triggered my depression, even though I’m on medication (just Lithium). You’re right, BPII is disabling especially when we’re under any level of stress. I go to my psychiatrist once a month for follow-up and am studying psychology, mainly to avoid being alone at night.

August 15, 2012 at 6:45 am
(5) elaine says:

Let us respect the man and pray for his recovery.

August 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm
(6) AnonymousOne says:

It took many, many years for me to be properly diagnosed with BPII. Previous to that I was put on SSRIs which of course made my BP worse. I had so many ‘episodes’ that I lost count. I can now say that my illness has been well managed for over 3 years now! I have been judged, discriminated against, lost friends and family due to this illness. People are just not properly educated on this illness. There is a huge stigma and I don’t know if that will ever go away. I know that I only share my illness with people who understand this illness and sadly, that’s only a few. I wish Jesse Jackson nothing but the best. With proper treatment, he can thrive in all areas of his life.

August 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm
(7) Lena says:

He is totally right not to disclose anything he doesn’t want to. This is HIS illness, and he should only share what he wants to. Too often today you’re expected to disclose every single thing about yourself – and a lot of it is in the name of “helping others.” B.S. Hello, privacy! In this day and age of social media, and sharing every time you eat a banana, I find it refreshing frankly that someone has the guts to keep something to himself until he’s ready for it to come out. Shout it from the rooftops, with
a bullhorn? No, if that’s not your style. Disclose it to people who need to know? Yes. But Joe Schmoe isn’t entitled to anything.

September 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm
(8) kathy says:

Bipolar is nothing to be ashamed of. I was hopitalized 3 times before I was diagnosed what a relief to know what I was suffering from and that it was treatable. Best wishes to him and his family.

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