Trying to dispel the stigma of his son's bipolar diagnosis, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr. is reminding the press that other famous people suffered from depression too, like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Jesus Christ. On Thursday, in a wide-ranging interview with Politico's Katie Glueck, Jackson opened up about Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who's undergoing treatment for bipolar II depression at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota after taking a medical leave on June 10. Per Glueck:
Jackson noted that King — and even Jesus — battled moments of depression.
The civil rights leader then said, “When Jesus says, ‘Why has thou forsaken me?’ The idea that [he has] done all the right things that [God] asked [him] to do … it was a moment of depression, it was a depression moment, ‘Why have you forsaken me?’”
But Jesus, like King, also went through a series of “moods” before he, too, talked himself through his woes, Jackson said.
As it stands, the congressman's office has been in a state of radio silence in the last three months save for a few short statements. (The Associated Press notes that the office remains open for constituent services.) After months of describing the illness as "exhaustion," Jackson's family members eventually described it as a "mood disorder" a few weeks ago. But following a statement about his condition from the Mayo Clinic on Monday, Jackson's allies are visiting him and trying to convey the difficulties of depression to the press. Last night, for instance, former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy discussed his meetings with the hospitalized congressman, and weighed in on the scourge that is depression. He told NBC News' Kelly O'Donnell that growing up under the spotlight a famous father brings a heavy burden:
Both are sons of famous fathers who have carried that weight throughout their lives and now share a "common struggle" with depression. Kennedy and Jackson, both in their 40s, have been friends for many years ... Kennedy said, "he asked about me, how did I get through this?" Kennedy has received treatment for depression and addiction at the same Minnesota facility and was able to remain in office. Kennedy chose not to seek another House term in 2010. Kennedy says he is "confident" Jackson is making progress and deserves credit for "staying with it, "by remaining in treatment when he likely feels so much pressure "to get out."
Where Jackson's political career will go from here remains unclear. In his interview with Politico, Jackson, Sr. did not offer any indication of where he's headed. “It’s been a challenge,” he said. “Jesse has the bipolar thing. It slips up on you. If you bleed, you get a Band-Aid. If you break a leg, you get a splint. This is a combination of forces that we had not seen.” As for Kennedy, he "did not indicate that Jackson has made any decisions about his own political career and he did not offer any specific advice," according to NBC. He did tell The AP's Michelle R. Smith and Sophia Tareen however, that the depression was severe. "I don't think people understand the depth of his depression. It's deep," he said. "He has a lot of work to continue to do to be able to learn how to treat this illness in the most effective way possible. Depression is a serious thing, and I'm glad that he's taking it seriously."