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 Marcia Purse

Jesse Jackson, Jr., Resigns from Congress, Citing Bipolar Disorder

By November 21, 2012

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Jesse Jackson, Jr., in 2004Jesse Jackson, Jr., Congressman from Illinois, who was diagnosed earlier this year with bipolar II disorder, has sent a resignation letter to the Speaker of the House. In the letter, Jackson said, "For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy and life to public service. However," he continued, "over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most to the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible."

In spite of the news about his bipolar diagnosis and ongoing investigations into possible misuse of campaign funds and possible ethics violations, Jackson was re-elected two weeks ago with a solid 63 percent of the vote. A week after the election, however, he had returned to the Mayo Clinic where he had undergone some months of treatment.

The vote was seen by some as a victory in the war against stigma for those with mental illnesses. Still, Jackson's district is heavily Democratic, and others say he might have won by a greater margin if not for his illness.

Only time will tell what effect his resignation, coming on the heels of very strong re-election support, will have on public perception of politicians who are open about mental illnesses. It's always sad when bipolar disorder interrupts or ends a career, whether it's that of a public figure or an everyday Joe. Regardless of the outcome of the investigations, I salute Mr. Jackson for his past service and for acknowledging that improving his mental health is a priority. I wish him all the best as he continues his treatment.

Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Bipolar Disorder

Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images

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Comments
November 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm
(1) julie reese says:

Mental Illness is a very devasting disease to the person who is diagnosed with it and their family & friends..My hope is that Mr. Jackson will see fit to be a spokesman for people inflicted with this disease and help rid the stigma against the ones suffering from this disease..A public figure as Mr. Jackson would help tremendously, as other public figures have used their experience with certain other diseases (Michael J. Fox), for parkinson’s disease, as an example.

May God guide you Mr. Jackson to step up, on behalf of the thousands without a voice…Thank You Julie Reese

November 27, 2012 at 11:38 am
(2) Gord White says:

The increase in bipolar disorder and other associated emotionally disabling disorders continues to grow at an alarming rate. Mr. Jackson’s career coming to an end due to it is a tragedy. His ability to be able to get to Mayo Clinic well he’s very lucky because unless you have resources to afford proper care you probably won’t get it. They talk about the stigma being taken away from these disorders well I don’t find that all that true, it should be but people love to judge what they fear.

November 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm
(3) Sharon says:

I wish him well. Bipolar is pure hell to live with.

November 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm
(4) Elena says:

As one quote says – - Stability is a place that bipolar people visit. None of us actually live there. Yes it is hell.

November 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm
(5) Pamela Pigg says:

I applaud Mr. Jackson for having the courage to resign and take care of himself. As we know, (those who have bipolar) the illness can be devastating on a mental, physical and spiritual level. I can only image the pressures that he contend with every day in Washington and try to stay stable.

I was diagnosed 30 years ago, but became treatment resistent and it took four years to find the right combination of drugs to treat the illness. It is a hard illness to deal with, but keep push forward, because there is light at the end of the tunnel.

God has plans for you…this is just a detour.

November 28, 2012 at 5:51 am
(6) Sam says:

I know many “stable” people with a bipolar diagnosis. Personally, I’ve been stable for many years. When you’re in it, it’s hell. Take your meds, get regular sleep and have regular meals. Take care of yourself. If bipolar manifested, then you probably need therapy. It changes your life, though it takes time, and you have to want it.
This is hell, and life sucks is not an attitude that will ever promote stability. Bipolar like any other challenge in life, can make a person stronger and wiser, with more to offer the world. It can also turn someone into a big whiny victim as well.

November 28, 2012 at 7:07 am
(7) da lar says:

Although I applaud Mr Jacksons decision to bring this illness public, I have reservations about using this illness as a reason to resign, It appears that he is in violation of many laws as the investigation is under way. Not all people affected with this become afoul of the law, he and his political handlers should be held accountable for any misdeeds and not be give a pass because of his affliction. I hope he is not merely using this as a” get out of jail card” which would in the long run give this disorder a worse stigma. I have been taken a ride on the ole bipolar express as my ex-wife is afflicted and although I have been put the the gates of hell with her I truly understand she is not in control as the disease is.

November 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm
(8) Lawrence says:

Him saying he has BPD is just a cover-up in my opinion for what he has done illegally !! I bet he will stop the medicine when he gets put in prison !! The percentages of him having BPD is like saying BPD is curable!! I didnt break any laws when I was diagnosed years ago or while Im still being treated !! Maybe he and his dad should seek a different type of help instead making a false impression on how us BPD people are !!!

December 1, 2012 at 11:37 am
(9) jewelrystore says:

I trained to be a teacher, a job I loved. I have my master’s degree in elementary and early childhood education, and am permanently state certified to teach. I taught almost 10 years straight, and then on and off for about another 8 years. I wanted to teach forever.

Bipolar disorder totally turned my life like a tornado. Teaching for me is now something from another life in a distant galaxy. Currently, I am an artist, and it suits me better at this point in time.

I can relate to Mr. Jackson, Jr. I wish him well.

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