During his 12-year career, Brandon Marshall was one of the NFL’s top wide receivers and best-known players. His nickname was “The Beast” because of how hard it was to tackle him after he made a reception.
But there was a beast inside Brandon Marshall, and it was one that almost prematurely ended his NFL career and his marriage and nearly landed him in jail. That beast for Brandon Marshall was a mental illness known as borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Brandon Marshall’s Career
Brandon Marshall was drafted in 2006 in the first round by the Denver Broncos. He went on to play for the Miami Dolphins, the Chicago Bears, the New York Jets, the New York Giants and finally the Seattle Seahawks in 2018.
Over that time he set numerous records, including the most pass receptions by a receiver in one game (21), and was one of only six NFL players ever to record 100 receptions three seasons in a row.
He was the first player since 1960 to record at least 10 receptions in eight games in his first four seasons. In 2012, he was voted the MVP at that year’s Pro Bowl.
Brandon Marshall and BPD
While his on-field career was successful, legal problems plagued his off-the-field life. They started when he was a student at the University of Central Florida. Hardly a year went by when Marshall wasn’t charged with an infraction. Those charges included two DUIs, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, suspicion of domestic violence and assault.
After his trade to the Miami Dolphins in 2010 and what was for him a below-average season, friends and family started to tell him he needed help. So in the summer of 2011, he went to the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, where he was diagnosed with BPD.
Brandon Marshall on Mental Health Disorders
“I remember the doctors there gave me a pamphlet on BPD, explaining the signs and symptoms, and I started highlighting the things I had been feeling,” Marshall wrote in an article entitled “The Stigma” in the Players Tribune. “By the time I was done, the whole damn pamphlet was yellow.”
Finally learning about the disorder that had plagued him his entire life was a game changer for Marshall.
“When they diagnosed me, I just … exhaled — like the biggest exhale of my life. It was just a huge relief.”
It was then that Marshall realized the importance of talking to someone about his problems.
“My emotions had been controlling me, and I was trapped — not by anything external, but by things that were inside me. But I couldn’t be the one to help myself. I needed to seek help.”
What Is Borderline Personality Disorder?
According to the Mayo Clinic, BPD is a mental condition that affects the way you think about yourself and others. A person suffering from BPD has difficulty functioning on a daily basis and may exhibit signs of impulsiveness, frequent mood swings and inappropriate anger. Despite intense feelings of abandonment, often accompanied by intense self-loathing, the symptoms of BPD often push away those close to a sufferer.
Here are some other facts about BPD:
- It’s estimated that 1.6% of Americans suffer from BPD, but that number could be as high as 5.9%.
- Women make up about 75% of those currently diagnosed with BPD.
- The number of men with BPD is probably underestimated because men are more reluctant to seek help and are often misdiagnosed as having PTSD or depression.
- By some estimates, 35% of the men and 25% of the women currently incarcerated in the United States suffer from BPD.
- Only about 50% of those who suffer from BPD seek treatment, and roughly 30% of the 50% who don’t seek treatment want to avoid the negative stigma of mental illness.
Brandon Marshall and Mental Health
Marshall says that after he received his diagnosis, he realized that while football was his platform, showing others that it’s okay to seek help for their BPD was his purpose. With that in mind, in 2011 he became one of the first well-known athletes in the United States to speak out about their struggles with mental illness.
Marshall has been open about how his reputation as a supposedly “tough” athlete influenced his views about mental health.
“When I first heard the term mental health, the first thing that came to mind was mental toughness. Masking pain. Hiding it. Keeping it inside. That had been embedded in me since I was a kid. Never show weakness. Suck it up. Play through it. Live through it. Now, I realize that mental health means the total opposite.”
Brandon Marshall’s Life After His Diagnosis of BPD
Marshall wrote in the Players Tribune that he’s exactly the same person he was when he was having so many problems. He still has troubling emotions and feelings.
“The only difference is that now, I know how to deal with my emotions the right way.”
Brandon Marshall no longer has problems with law enforcement. These days, Marshall regularly addresses groups about how important it is for people to seek help with BPD. He and his wife Michi cofounded Project 375 to increase awareness of BPD and other mental health issues in order to combat the associated stigma and raise funds for treatment.
Project 375 also hosts training sessions across the country to teach people how to identify the signs of mental illness and educate them about how to seek help.
How We Can Help at FHE Health
It can be difficult to be honest with yourself that your feelings of loneliness, abandonment and anger could be signs of a mental illness. Brandon Marshall was able to turn his life around because he realized how important it was to seek help. If you want to find help, call us at (844) 299-0618. Our caring team of counselors is available to take your call 24/7. Today is the day to start your journey to recovery.