The wife of Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) spoke publicly about his medical condition on Friday, telling a reporter that the Democratic lawmaker was “completely debilitated by depression” but that she expected him to “return to work.”

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Alderwoman Sandi Jackson acknowledged her husband was being treated for depression at the Mayo Clinic, but denied rumors he had attempted suicide or was suffering from drug or alcohol addiction. 

“No, no, none of that is true,” said Mrs. Jackson. 


She described her husband’s illness as devastating for his family. “His collapse was D-Day for us,” she said.

Mrs. Jackson said she was in Chicago when her husband’s medical condition first came to her attention. She said he collapsed at their Washington D.C. home and was taken to the hospital by his father Rev. Jackson and brother Yusef.

Mrs. Jackson said her husband then spent time at the Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona “where they specialize in mental health,” and said doctors suspected a link between a recent gastric bypass surgery he underwent and his diagnosed depression. 

“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,” she said. “They are now trying to find out if his depression, which has not yet been diagnosed as a bipolar disorder, is connected to the weight-loss surgery. We don’t know.”

Rep. Jackson, a nine-term House member has been on medical leave for close to two months. Last week, his office released a statement through the Mayo Clinic, which said he had been admitted to the healthcare center for “extensive inpatient evaluation for depression and gastrointestinal issues.”

His office initially disclosed few details about his medical condition and the prolonged absence led to debate among senior House Democratic leaders about how much he should share about his health with constituents.

Jackson’s family for the most part has remained silent about his medical leave. His father, civil rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson said last weekend that there was no “timetable” for his son’s recovery. “We hope he will fully recover.” Jackson had said.  

Mrs. Jackson said she would “fully expect him to return to work, but not a day before the doctor says it’s OK.”

She also said her husband has been in a “news blackout,” since June 10, the date when he was last seen on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Jackson, who is the target of a House ethics probe, had not heard of the federal indictment of his friend Raghuveer Nayak, Mrs. Jackson said, because the arrest had occurred after the news blackout was imposed.

“We decided to impose a news blackout during his treatment to enable him to heal,” she said in the interview. “He doesn’t know anything about the indictment.”