“What exactly is a mood disorder?” is a question many asked upon learning that Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (pictured), (D-Ill) was seeking treatment for one.
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Mental Health America describes mood disorders here:
Four basic forms of mood disorders are major depression, cyclothymia (a mild form of bipolar disorder), SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and mania (euphoric, hyperactive, over inflated ego, unrealistic optimism.)
Which form applies to the son of Civil Rights leader Jesse Jackson is unknown, but that hasn’t stopped speculation. Some outlets claim to have heard rumblings of a suicide attempt, others talk of rehab for treatment of alcohol addiction. Jackson’s chief of staff, Rick Bryant, says both are simply “not true.”
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On the merits of the the mood disorder claim, ABC News spoke to one source close to Jackson Jr.:
“That’s what he has. He doesn’t get a lot of sleep and he has sleep disorders. He’s very energetic, running full-steam ahead, working six or seven days a week often and he’s been doing that for a long time,” a source close to Jackson told ABC earlier this week. “There’s a great deal of pressure on him due to unfounded allegations [related to the ethics inquiry] and negative press onslaught against him that are not true, so it kinda all caught up to him. He needed downtime to get away from grind.”
The most endearing response on this matter thus far has been from Jesse Jackson Jr.’s mother, Jacqueline Jackson. During a speech at an Operation PUSH luncheon on Friday, she acknowledged that her son had been dealing with “enormous disappointment” over the past few years.
“I’m not ashamed to say he thought he was going to be a senator. He thought he was going to have a chance to run for mayor. And young people don’t bounce back from disappointment like me and my husband.”
A simple yet powerful statement.
Jesse Jackson Jr. is certainly not the rising star he was once christened. A causality of the former corrupt Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and his scandal, Jackson Jr. has fallen from grace — now being dismissed as “simply a congressman who can deliver the pork back home.”
Despite not being the politician of a certain stature anymore, he is continues to be targeted by his political adversaries, such as those at the conservative-leaning paper the Washington Times, who have accused him of working for an organized crime union.
Maybe “enormous disappointment” is an understatement.
Now he’s even being criticized for his office’s handling of his medical ailment, and worse, his condition is even being used as fuel to call for his resignation. Both remind me of lingering societal attitudes about mental illness. I can’t completely fault reporters for merely doing their job, but there remains something rather unfortunate about how this story has moved, thus far, tonally.
It’s not like he’s out walking the streets of his district with MD 2020 in hand, screaming, “I GIVE UP!”
This is someone who has opened up about a problem that many have but few speak out about.
Why should he retreat in to complete political irrelevance over it? Jesse’s support in his local district remains strong, so unless something drastic changes with respect to his treatment, I don’t see why he needs to remove himself from office.
Once he is in better spirits, there may be an opportunity for him to regain some national attention…though perhaps not the way he envisioned it.
Writer, poet, and, mental health advocate Bassey Ikpi, in conjunction with her non-profit organization, The Siwe Project, recently launched “No Shame Day,” where her site “host[s] candid discussions about mental illness stigma, diagnoses, and treatment options.” Ikpi was recently profiled on MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry show” for her efforts.
Whatever Jesse Jackson Jr. opts to do once he steps back in to the public eye is his decision, but there are a lot of other people out there who “don’t bounce back from disappointment” the way his mother and father do.
You can add my name to that count.
Every voice helps and it’d certainly be good for many in the Black community to see someone with his name speak candidly and earnestly on what it was like to deal with immense misfortune, subsequently fall in to depression, and crawl his way out of it.
It would surely beat the media narrative currently being tied to his mental state.
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Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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