NFL star Brandon Marshall is changing the face of borderline personality disorder

by Michael Ulanday on August 2, 2011 · 2 comments

in borderline personality disorder

For the past week, the vast majority of sports media has focused on the end of the labor lockout in the National Football League. With a spate of free agency announcements, trades, signings and wage negotiations, the lockout has provided sports fans considerable drama in a short amount of time. Amid the fervor surrounding millions of dollars exchanging hands, however, one announcement stood starkly apart from the rest.

Brandon Marshall takes on borderline personality disorder

On Sunday, Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall announced in a press conference that he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) earlier in the year, and he had subsequently sought treatment at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts.

The Beast and his behaviors

Marshall, 27, spoke all of 30 minutes during the press conference, describing a series of events from child abuse to a rash of arrests for various offenses that led him down a dangerous path. From driving under the influence and disorderly conduct arrests to misdemeanor battery charges, there was enough weight in the court of public opinion for most to consider Marshall aptly deserving of his nickname “The Beast.”

Things came to a head this April when Marshall was hospitalized after his wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall, reportedly stabbed him in the stomach (Marshall filed charges and then dropped them). And while Marshall had already been conducting phone talks with clinicians at McLean before the altercation, he cites this incident (where he admittedly tried to trap his wife in a closet to keep her from leaving) as one of the chief precipitating factors in pushing him into treatment.

Battling stigma

After three months of treatment and therapy, Marshall knows he is not fully “healed or fixed,” but understands he now has the necessary tools for his recovery. What’s more, rather than merely publicly admitting to a BPD diagnosis, Marshall has taken on the mantle of dispelling the stigma associated with borderline personality disorder. As he said to the Miami Sun-Sentinel,

“I’ll be the face of BPD. I’ll make myself vulnerable if it saves someone’s life because I know what I went through this summer helped save mine.”

In an upcoming documentary (whose trailer is featured below), video cameras follow Marshall on his journey through treatment. His brave efforts to raise awareness of BPD, combined with a candid look inside his treatment experience, could introduce a large portion of the public to an updated perception of treatment, one that isn’t filled with stereotypes in white lab coats, caricatures in straight jackets and an endless hallway of seclusion rooms.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Juliana June 14, 2012 at 8:22 pm

I appreciate your candor in discussing this difficult to understand illness. Especially given the extra stigma it seems to carry. As hard as it may be for your loved ones to cope with, it is you that carries the diagnosis and must do the primary struggle. Keep up the good work, it takes a lot of courage to talk about it and I am so grateful to you for doing so.

Newsweek has a feature story this week about Mary Kennedy who took her life in May as a culmination of years of struggling with the disorder. It was a tragic outcome. Shame keeps it under wraps rather than in treatment.
Be well and use your resources to heal.

Sarah August 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm

This is huge. Thank you for writing about it. I read an article a few days ago and was hoping it would show up in the saynotostigma blog. I hope that Dr. Yudofsky per Roger Verdon, doesn’t continue to tell people, “If you meet a borderline run.” (I’m paraphrasing but close to the quote). First Professor Marsha Linehan and now an NFL football player coming out about an illness people used to call “a death sentence” or the most dreaded patients to work with. Marshall is incredibly brave and someone who will have a great impact on the stigma of BPD as Magic Johnson did for HIV/AIDS

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