NFL Star Brandon Marshall Comes Clean With Borderline Personality Disorder

... and mental health gets the respect it deserves.

Brandon Marshall/Marc Serota

It used to be that when a celebrity, political figure, or sports star ran into trouble with the law -- or with their spouse -- they simply went to “treatment,” which basically translated into an acceptable excuse for their behavior. It was their publicity "out."

The specific reason for treatment was usually hush-hush, while magazine cover stories and publicists flaunted their expertise, leading us to believe that alcohol and pills were the only possible sources for any kind of life struggle in limelight. It was a time when sex addiction, self-mutilation, eating disorders and bipolar manic episodes were kept in the therapy room and out of the headlines. But those times are gone, and things have changed.

What was once a PR excuse -- disguised as treatment -- has now become an accepted, humanizing, and revealing attempt towards creating a better life, also known as honesty.

Going to treatment is still the thing to do when you hit rock bottom, but coming clean to your fans about what’s really going on has certainly caught on. As a therapist and huge supporter of not pretending you’re an alcoholic when you’re really a sex addict, I must say, I’m loving every minute of it.

Brandon Marshall, NFL wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the people getting "real" and coming clean with his issues. And personally, I think he just got hotter. He announced this week that he’s been suffering with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and attributes his life-changing turn around to three months of intensive therapy and treatment.

Marshall had a personal videographer come along with him to treatment to capture his experience, with the hope of offering support and to de-stigmatize others who are going through the hell he went through. The documentary, Borderline Beast, released this trailer this past week.

My reservations about diagnoses as major as BPD being brought to the public table still remain to some extent. I worry about fragile individuals who are looking for an explanation for their struggles and a diagnosis that feels as right as a horoscope out of Cosmo. I can only hope the documentary does a solid job at explaining what a complex diagnosis BPD is, so those who have it know it in their gut, and those who don’t only walk away with more empathy rather than confusion.

All that being said, I’m thrilled “treatment” is now being diversified and given the rich context it so deserves. Therapy is finally being welcomed for what it really is: a place for people to change their lives for the better, look at themselves from a different lens and learn what happy and healthy really mean. It’s 2011, therapy is no longer a place to be judged and analyzed to a pulp. That’s what high school is for.

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