As the sons of famous fathers, Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy have much in common. And since the revelation that Jackson is being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder, they now share another similarity. Both Jackson's family and office have offered only sketchy details about the lawmaker's condition, but after a visit with him last Thursday, Kennedy, who also sought treatment at Mayo for the same disorder, was more open.
"I don't think people understand the depth of his depression. It's deep. He has a lot of work to continue to be able to learn how to treat this illness in the most effective way possible," Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, said in an interview with the Associated Press. "Depression is a serious thing, and I'm glad that he's taking it seriously."
Kennedy, who has been very public about his own mental health struggles, suggested that Jackson was initially reluctant to seek help, the AP reports, but has gone "through a kind of metamorphosis." Kennedy also expressed confidence that the "resilient" Jackson will heal.
"He recognizes the challenges that he faces. That's a big step on the long road to recovery. He's doing the work so he can take that journey forward," said Kennedy. "He's getting stronger and he's getting the support he needs to put together a program of recovery."
After the visit, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson issued a statement: "My husband is grateful for [Kennedy's] friendship. He and Jesse have a long history in Congress together."
Jackson's office declined to comment about the meeting between the two lawmakers. He is expected to remain on the ballot in November and win his bid for re-election, but Kennedy told NBC News that Jackson is "worried about his political future."
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