Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner visit a Ford plant in Chicago in early April.
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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner visit a Ford plant in Chicago in early April.

Story highlights

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. hasn't been at work on Capitol Hill since May

His office had announced he's at the Mayo Clinic for depression and GI issues

His wife tells a newspaper her husband collapsed and had "debilitating" depression

"My husband has his good days and bad days," she says after a recent visit

CNN —  

The wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. detailed to a Chicago newspaper her husband’s “collapse” and his last two months getting treated for gastrointestinal and mental health issues, saying he’s still “very depressed” though showing some progress.

Sandi Jackson, an alderwoman in Chicago, talked with the Chicago Sun-Times shortly after returning from visiting her husband at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, with their two children.

“What I can tell you is my husband has his good days and bad days, and they are increasing his depression medication to therapeutic levels,” Sandi Jackson told the paper.

The Illinois Democrat and son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, has not been on Capitol Hill since late May.

In early July, the congressman’s office announced he was “receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder.” Then, a few weeks later, his office issued another statement via the Mayo Clinic indicating that he was undergoing an “extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues” at the prestigious medical facility.

Besides such statements, Jackson and his family have been largely mum about his ordeal. His father did tell the Huffington Post, in a taped interview, that about “seven or eight weeks ago” he went to visit his son in Washington and learned he hadn’t slept in three days.

“We went to the hospital, and they kept him,” the Rev. Jackson told the online news website. “And what we thought to be ‘exhaustion’ was something much deeper, much broader, and it lasted much longer.”

Sandi Jackson elaborated on what happened to the Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed, calling the congressman’s “collapse” on June 10 at the family’s Washington residence as “D-Day for us.”

By then, she said, her husband was “completely debilitated by depression.”

Beating back rumors, Sandi Jackson denied firmly that her husband had attempted suicide or was receiving help for alcohol or drug addiction. She also said the indictment of his friend, Raghuveer Nayak, had no bearing since it happened June 20, after the family imposed a “news blackout” on Jesse Jackson Jr. as he got treatment. Medical experts are still weighing whether a recent weight-loss surgery might have helped trigger his depression, his wife said.

With Sandi Jackson at the family’s other home in Chicago, the congressman’s father and brother Yusef took him to a Washington hospital in early June. Some time later, Yusef Jackson brought his brother – at Sandi Jackson’s suggestion, she said – to the Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona because that facility specializes in mental health.

Eventually, it was decided to transfer him to the Mayo Clinic.

“Jesse is now gaining weight and eating and feeling better in that sense, but he is still very depressed,” Sandi Jackson said of his current condition, adding that he has his “ups and downs.” “But I am encouraged by the number of tests they are running and the quality of the analysis.”

She said there’s no timetable on when he might return to work – including whether he’ll be back at work by Labor Day and perhaps at the Democratic National Convention in early September – adding “it’s up to the doctors … but we should know soon.”

Jackson’s illness comes as the House Ethics Committee is examining allegations that in 2008 he or or one of his associates offered to raise funds for then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for Jackson being appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he was elected president.

The congressman has maintained his innocence and pledged to continue to cooperate with authorities.

Blagojevich was convicted last year on corruption charges in connection with his efforts to profit from appointing the successor to the Senate seat. He began serving a 14-year sentence in March.

In a separate incident, Jackson apologized to his constituents in September 2010 after the Chicago Sun-Times reported a Chicago businessman told federal investigators that Jackson had asked him to pay for a restaurant hostess to fly between Washington and Chicago several times.

He said he was “deeply sorry” that he had disappointed some supporters.