BY RICHARD SUTPHEN
My name is Richard Sutphen, I am 28 years old,
and suffer from Bipolar Disorder (also known as
manic-depression), and also have a diagnosis
of Borderline Schizophrenia. My childhood was
relatively normal, although I did have a wide
range of moods, and could become violent at times.
As I grew older, these symptoms became more
severe. By the age of 15, I had been arrested
three times for assault and battery alone.
Then there were the times of being picked up for wild
partying, pulling malicious and dangerous
pranks, and causing problems just about everywhere I
The state sent me in for psychiatric testing,
where I was diagnosed as Bipolar. My parents did
not want to believe it, and they refused to
take me in for treatment. My Junior year of high
school, I was once again arrested. My
parents were ordered to move me out of the county, or I
would be sent to a state home. My father
took a job doing a shut down on a power plant so he
could move me out of the county. We
lived alone in a travel trailer for five months. Then he
found a job in Columbus, MS working on a papermill.
I ended up going to three different
schools in my Junior year. I managed
to survive my Senior year without any major incidents, and
graduated in the top 10% of the class.
After high school, I decided to join the Army,
where I served for four years. The Army caught on
to my problem, and tried to treat me with
Lithium and Prozac. This helped for a little while, but I
also started drinking. Eventually, I
went off the meds and started self-medicating with the
alcohol. It is amazing that in all my
time in service, I had never gotten any corporal punishment,
even with charges from disobeying orders to
assaulting NCO’s stacked against me.
When my four years were up, I took a job near
New Orleans, LA manufacturing pipe hangers and
supports. New Orleans was a great town
for partying. My drinking escalated even more, but I
did maintain my job for a year and a half.
Then I was requested back into service, so I signed up
for another three years. My drinking
was getting out of control, and I was constantly in trouble
with the chain of command. Then in May
1997, I got a DWI. I was placed on probation for six
months, and was ordered into the Army’s drinking
program. Although I resisted at first, I
eventually decided that it was time to clean
up. Within a year, I made Sergeant. Life was
starting to look up again.
Then I separated from the service once again,
and once again my life turned into turmoil. The
woman I loved left me, and I could not find
a stable job. I eventually went into a major
depression, and was hospitalized in November
1999. They reconfirmed my diagnosis of Bipolar
Disorder, and also diagnosed me as a Borderline
Schizoid. I was started on treatment with
Depakote and Paxil, and have remained med
My life is still not stable, but now I am at
a point where I can work on putting everything
together, provided I am given the chance.
There is still the challenge of facing the stigma and
misunderstanding of Bipolar Disorder.
It is my hope to help people understand this illness
more, and to provide facts to help eradicate
the myths. Also, I want to help those with Bipolar
Disorder, and other mental illnesses, find
the help that they so desperately need.