High Profile Politicians & Bipolar Disorder: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

Jesse Jackson, Jr., US Congressman from Illinois, who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder (type II), has sent a resignation letter to the Speaker of the House. Citing his mental ill-health as the motivating factor in this move, 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”.

It remains to be seen whether Mr. Jackson’s open and honest approach to his diagnosis will have impacted positively on the public perception of mental illness in elected officials, and whether or not increasing the profile of this complicated condition will encourage others to ‘come out’.  Let’s hope that Mr. Jackson’s bravery will act as a catalyst to prompt others to educate the public, as well as fighting stigma and prejudice head-on.

You can read an interesting opinion piece on the Jackson situation by Marcia Purse here: http://bipolar.about.com/b/2012/11/21/jesse-jackson-jr-resigning-from-congress-citing-bipolar-disorder.htm

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One thought on “High Profile Politicians & Bipolar Disorder: Are They Mutually Exclusive?

  1. Even though it has led to him stepping down from his job I think it is in general a positive thing in terms of mental illness awareness as it isn’t associated with a negative event; there’s also his being specific about bipolar instead of just citing stress or a stress-related illness as is common these days in an attempt to hide anything more ‘serious’.

    On the flip-side, it also shows that he wasn’t able to speak out about his specific difficulties amongst his peers and the public whilst still in office – people are only coming to understand and accept depression; (hypo)mania and psychosis are still seen as a threat and your judgement always doubted.

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