We often don't get follow-ups on patients. Nor do we usually get follow-ups on our blogs. Here we'll try to do both.
Last March 21st, I wrote the blog "Being borderline: Marsha Linehan and Brandon Marshall." Brandon Marshall was the well-known professional football player who was traded to my beloved Chicago Bears. He was publicized both for his unusual football skills as well as his self-proclaimed borderline personality disorder, a disorder notoriously hard to treat. His professional success had been continually interrupted by emotional volatility and fights inside and outside of football. Typical sports headlines in Chicago papers at that time were "Baggage Claim" and "Brandon Marshall the newest troubled Bear." He himself countered that by claiming to be more confident, given his treatment with the dialectic psychotherapy pioneered by Marsha Linehan. In the blog, I wrote: "I'm sure there will be follow-ups, especially once the football season begins in the fall."
So, what happened over the prior year, both on and off the field? On the field, he was a star player for the Chicago Bears. Significantly for his disorder, there was no evidence of behavioral problems, even after he was injured and the Bears started to lose more games. Off the field, there was an absence of the heretofore numerous fights and arrests. All reports indicated that he had been a positive mentor to younger guys on the team, men who come from a culture where admission of mental problems is even more taboo than the general public.
Now, the preparation for the new football season is beginning. Most impressively, Mr. Marshall does not only seem stable, but is beginning to exhibit positive leadership abilites. As described in the blog Profootballtalk on May 13th, "Brandon Marshall hopes Titus Young gets treatment." Young is another African-American pro football receiver. Marshall believes that Young's behavioral problems, including being arrested three times in early May, were similar to his. Mr. Marshall has tried to reach out to Mr. Young, and also appeared on NFL Live, where he said:
"He needs to get the right treatment plan. I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder a few years ago and got the right help, the right treatment, and now I'm advocating for it. Mental health in itself is just so stigmatized, it's a taboo topic in our homes, in our communities, and we need more people to talk about it and not make Titus Young or people like myself or others who can't fight for themselves a national punchline. ...And second of all, if he gets that in order, we'll be looking at a success story, and this is a guy who will be in a locker room and guys will be coming to him for advice".
In behavioral healthcare, the recovery movement has received increasing attention and support. Recovery means to help the patient beyond symptom relief, to try to achieve their desired potential. It means patients becoming peer helpers to others.
Right now, Mr. Marshall is an example of recovery at its best. Fortunately, he's not the only one. In professional basketball, Ron Artest, who changed his name to Meta World Peace to reflect his internal changes, is another public example of recovering from being borderline to crossing the border to being leaders. That they are public about their history serves as a powerful model. Perhaps we have such examples in our places of work that would be willing to go public. If so, maybe they can do so in one of the forums of Behavioral Healthcare.