July 31, 2011
"I have a dream home, two nice cars, three beautiful dogs, but I haven't enjoyed one part of it. And it was hard to understand why."
This was one of many gripping sentences in one of the most unforgettable press conferences you will ever see, regardless of reason. When Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall(notes) took to the microphone to talk with the media on Sunday, the subject was the brilliant article written by Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and published the day before. In that article, Marshall admitted to having a form of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder).
According to the Mayo Clinic, BPD can be seen with the following symptoms:
People with borderline personality disorder often feel misunderstood, alone, empty and hopeless. They're typically full of self-hate and self-loathing. They may be fully aware that their behavior is destructive, but feel unable to change it. Poor impulse control may lead to problems with gambling, driving or even the law. They may find that many areas of their lives are affected, including social relationships, work or school.
Marshall has been involved in damaging and self-damaging behavior going back to his days at the University of Central Florida, and through his career with the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins. In an April 23 incident, his wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall, was charged with aggravated battery for stabbing him in the abdomen. Charges were dropped last Friday. In the interim, Marshall underwent three months of psychological and neurological exams at Boston's McLean Hospital (where Harvard medical students go to train), having been inspired to seek help from a conversation with teammate Ricky Williams(notes), who had sought treatment for unrelated issues there.
"Before this ordeal I kept asking God to show me my purpose. He gave me this," Marshall told Kelly. "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."
Marshall was honest, open and vulnerable at the microphone on Sunday — he talked about the disorder without hesitation and said that he had not been able to enjoy any part of his career to date as a result of it. It was an absolutely riveting thing to see, and a stark reminder that as much as football is a sport that tends to depersonalize at times, it's still a game very much about people.
Marshall credited his wife with trying to understand and love him, talked about the relatively high rate of BPD cases that end in suicide (about 10 percent, he said), and said that 35 percent of the male prison population has been diagnosed with BPD, and 25 percent of the female prison population. He said that if not for treatment "I would have thrown away my career, and there was a good possibility, my life. I'm still suffering from the cons of this. Another reason I'm so passionate about it is that I may lose my wife still, and this hurts me."
"By no means am I all healed or fixed," Marshall told Kelly, "but it's like a light bulb has been turned on in my dark room."
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