The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

February 24, 2007

Thompson struggling with bipolar depression

By his own reckoning, Ron Thompson slipped without warning into a dark corridor of depression that worsened to the point a sister feared he was on the verge of plunging over the edge, right into a “path of destruction.”

The odyssey has lasted some 18 months, dating back to October 2005, when, for a specific reason that eludes him, the veteran Raleigh County legislator began to sense a personality change.

Just what triggered his lapse into a common mental disorder known in medical parlance as bipolar two remains a mystery to him.

Now, he is under treatment, after months of refusing, in deference to an admitted “macho” attitude of self-reliance that insisted whatever made him feel isolated and different could be overcome by his own strong will.

Thompson became a political cause celebre that reached far beyond his two-county 27th District when he neglected to appear at the legislative session’s Jan. 10 start to re-take an oath he has uttered on six other occasions, after winning that many terms before his last successful campaign effort last fall.

That started a series of events that prompted the House of Delegates to declare his seat vacant, then rescind the historic move less than a week later.

Eventually, word came from a Beckley psychiatrist that the long-missing Democratic lawmaker was under treatment which started only 10 days before Thompson lent himself to an exclusive interview with The Register-Herald Thursday. His weight had risen rapidly, but Thompson appeared as cheerful and gregarious as colleagues and news reporters remembered him.

At times, he laughed freely at some of the questions, especially when reminded of the prolific rumors generated by his self-imposed exile from the public eye.

As for one piece of scuttlebutt, Thompson was emphatic — he isn’t facing any legal troubles.

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