new-york-jets

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National Football League teams and their stadium (inspired by x)

Celebrities with BPD

Borderline Personality Disorder is a severe chronic mental illness characterized by emotional hypersensitivity and an inability to regulate these emotional extremities. This results in unstable emotions, behaviors, relationships, perceptions, and a sense of self/identity.

BPD symptoms and reactions revolve around three components: emotions that are more hypersensitive (hyperactive, react quickly), extremely intense (high physiological response, high nervous system reactions, and so on) and lasts longer (takes the body longer to return back to the emotional baseline). Symptoms include extreme depression/emptiness, rage, brief hallucinations, specific reactions and preoccupations to real or perceived abandonment, rejection, and negative criticism, perception and thought pattern symptoms and distortions, and more. To see further and more detail about actual symptoms, check out this post.

BPD is highly underrepresented, partly because of the high stigma attached to it. People with BPD are refused treatment, sometimes intentionally misdiagnosed, and symptoms are often viewed negatively. According to Roy Krawitz, et al, in the article “Borderline Personality Disorder: Pathways to Effective Service Delivery and Clinical Treatment Options,” patients who have BPD:

may already be disliked before they have even been seen. Clients in treatment are often embroiled in clinician attitudes which are derogatory or denying the legitimacy of their right to access resources. Studies have demonstrated clinicians having less empathy for people meeting diagnostic criteria for borderline personality disorder than other diagnostic groups and making more belittling comments.


This post may provide hope and empowerment to those with BPD. Hopefully one will feel more understood and less alienated. Moreover, this is a great way to spread awareness and shed light on the condition. Real life examples are often helpful to see a better picture.

I included the celebrities who are actually diagnosed with BPD, as well as some who have been strongly thought to have it through evidence and observations by experts. There are many other instances in which people “guess” certain  celebrities have BPD, but they often lack a substantial amount of evidence, in addition to any resources and expert observation and research.
Please note that while there may be other individuals out there, I wanted to select a few of them. This post would have been too long otherwise, too.

Warning: this post describes some of their symptoms in detail

Brandon Marshall

is a NFL wide receiver who currently plays for the New York Jets. In 2011, he was diagnosed with BPD at McLean Hospital where he spent three months undergoing psychological and neurological evaluation and treatment. Brandon has struggled with run-ins with the law, anger, aggression, self-damaging behavior, among the other BPD symptoms. He describes that his life growing up was traumatic and unstable.

Since then, he has drawn media attention to BPD to help spread awareness and eliminate the stigma. Brandon  frequently posts about it and is very involved with the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEABPD). He can be seen here with NEABPD.

Brandon stated: “I have seen my life with BPD and how it played out. My goal is to walk the halls of Congress to fight for the insurance coverage for this, and walk the halls of the National Institute of Mental Health to raise awareness of this disorder. That is my mission moving forward. I love the game, but it’s not my priority anymore. Today, my journey begins.”
(BPD is not covered by insurance, unlike other disorders)

“By no means am I all healed or fixed, but it’s like a light bulb has been turned on in my dark room.” -Brandon Marshall

Marilyn Monroe (Norma Jeane Mortenson)

In case anyone isn’t aware, she was one of the most renown and successful actresses, models, and singers, in the 1950′s. She continues to be a major popular culture icon.

From an early age, Marilyn Monroe struggled with addiction, depression, and anxiety. She rarely had contact with her mother as a child and was placed into foster care. This was because her mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was frequently in and out of hospitals.

Marilyn has stated she was sexually abused by one of her foster families and found her frequent shifts of homes traumatizing, because “it seemed that no one wanted me.” After finding a legal guardian, she was molested and thus moved to multiple other families.

She had a reputation for being difficult on film sets, which gradually worsened. She struggled with perfectionism, low self-esteem, separation difficulties, and extreme stage fright, all of which often made her physically ill.
As a result, she was often late or did not show up at all, struggled to remember her lines, and would demand several re-takes before she was satisfied with her performance. She had immense dependency on those around her, including her acting coaches. They were constantly present, which irritated her directors. She struggled with separation difficulties, would fall into a “void” when alone, and often lashed out.

Marilyn began abusing alcohol, amphetamines, and barbiturates. In 1957, she was hospitalized from a barbiturate overdose, as well as attempted suicide at least three times. In 1961, she was hospitalized briefly for these struggles.
At age 35, Marilyn died from an overdose on barbiturates and was found by her psychiatrist.

It has since then been concluded that these symptoms were caused by BPD. This has been stated by multiple authors, researchers, and doctors, such as science journalist Claudia Kalb and BPD researchers Dr. Neil Bockian, Dr. Hal Strass, and Jerold Kreisman M.D., among many others.

Zelda Fitzgerald

was a novelist and the wife of well-known author F. Scott Fitzgerald (best known for his book The Great Gatsby). She has also been noted as a poet, dancer (the first American flapper), and painter. Many of Scott’s stories and characters were inspired by her personality.

Although she was diagnosed with schizophrenia back in the 1930′s, BPD as it is today was not a diagnosable illness at the time. It was often incorrectly referred to as a type of schizophrenia for some time, so a misdiagnosis of BPD as schizophrenia at times was not uncommon. In general, BPD is often misunderstood. (See below, Dr. Marsha Linehan).
Since then, it has been believed that she actually had BPD by various professionals.

Zelda showed various symptoms, including intense rage and behaviors in response to the isolation and perceived abandonment when her husband would spend too much time writing. At one point, after Scott was ignoring her in a conversation at a party, she threw herself down a flight of stairs.

Zelda was often described as lively, passionate, seductive, and erratic. She struggled with impulsiveness, for she often burned and broke objects in anger and engaged in alcohol use and spending sprees.
She was additionally was described to have various infatuations– these infatuations would frequently shift back and fourth. Splitting and identity symptoms appeared to occur here. She insisted on practicing ballet for up to 8 hours a day, but this suddenly shifted, and she denied an invitation to join a ballet opera company.

In September 1924, Zelda survived an overdose on sleeping pills.
In April 1930, she was hospitalized and received intense therapy; therefore, she was released in 1931. Not long after, however, she remained hospitalized. In 1948, she died in a fire that occurred at a hospital she was staying at, along with nine other women.

Princess Diana

was the first wife of Prince Charles and born into a family with royal ancestry as The Honourable Diana Spencer.
Diana had a heart for those who struggled. She often donated to charity and was an activist for various diseases, such as HIV/AIDS. She said, “Anywhere I see suffering, that is where I want to be, doing what I can.”

She herself suffered from bulimia, self-harm, and was known to have intense mood swings. She is quoted as joking about them to her private secretary Patrick Jephson, “Stand by for a mood swing, boys!”

By her own account, she threw herself down a flight of stairs after begging Prince Charles not to leave her to Balmoral. In addition, she attempted suicide numerous times and struggled with depression and emptiness.

There have been speculations about this conclusion, particularly from those not wanting her to be portrayed as “mad” and others saying it is “disrespectful” to conclude this about her. Additionally, others say it was “Prince Charles’ plan to portray her as ‘borderline personality disordered’ after he had an affair.” Even more, others say her fall down the stairs was an accident. This alone shows some of the stigma of BPD.

Regardless, Dr. Neil Bockian, Dr. Hal Strass, and Jerold Kreisman M.D. and many biographies, state she portrayed BPD.

Dr. Marsha Linehan

is a psychologist, author, professor, and creator of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for BPD. It has been proven to be immensely helpful, as statistics state it has cut the suicide attempts in half (x) and greatly alleviated a number of other symptoms. Likewise, she has written multiple books and self-worksheets for BPD. Marsha Linehan has provided mental health workers with many of the resources and understanding they have lacked.

In 2011, Marsha Linehan announced her story publicly. At age 17, she was hospitalized and described to be “one of the most disturbed patients,” who struggled with extreme self-harm and a range of symptoms. While doctors removed any object she could injure herself with, “The seclusion room, a small cell with a bed, a chair and a tiny, barred window, had no such weapon. Yet her urge to die only deepened. So she did the only thing that made any sense to her at the time: banged her head against the wall and, later, the floor. Hard.“ (x)
She was misdiagnosed as having schizophrenia, which she later stated that she actually has BPD.

Dr. Linehan has since then said it is possible she created the type of treatment she may have needed all along. She has multiple awards for her contributions to the psychological community and is a member of the NEABPD.

Doug Ferrari

is a comedian who was diagnosed BPD in 1998 after battling with severe depression, outbursts of anger, homelessness, and substance abuse.
In 1984, Ferrari won the San Francisco International Comedy Competition, which is a contest that can boast such participants like Robin Williams.

Despite extensive alcohol and drug use in an unknowing attempt to self-medicate, he expresses his initial denial, stating “BPD a silent killer, like high blood pressure. I didn’t think anything was wrong.”

At one point, he didn’t step on stage for about two years. He lived in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, using his disability checks to live in single-occupancy hotels.

While not much more is discussed in regards to his symptoms, he received treatment after years of going undiagnosed and has been sober since 2004.

“It’s also important to help people who may be really hurting, or have a loved one who’s really hurting,” he says. “Maybe they’re addicted, or they’re alcoholics, or they’re suicidal. I feel that every time I tell my story, it might help somebody.”
(x)

Vincent Van Gohg

Again, in case anyone isn’t aware, he is an artist mainly noted for his painting Starry Night.

In his book, Borderline Personality Disorder, Second Edition: A Clinical Guide. Dr. John G. Gunderson concludes Van Gogh’s:

longings for love, his sudden mood changes (and most particularly his seemingly unpredictable and unwarranted rages), and his pattern of impulsive acts, including substance abuse, are all recognizable components of the borderline syndrome…whether Van Gogh was borderline or not, it is a useful prism through which to view his troubled life.


Dr. Gunderson is an international expert on borderline personality disorder and is often referred to as the “father” of bpd due to his extensive research contributing to the clinical development of BPD.

Many other doctors support the BPD diagnosis. Psychiatrist Erwin van Meekeren supports and argues him having BPD in his book Starry Night: Life and Psychiatric History of Vincent van Gogh

He “displayed symptoms best consistent with a borderline (personality) disorder: impulsivity, variable moods, self-destructive behaviour, fear of abandonment, an unbalanced self-image, authority conflicts and other complicated relationships.” – Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. “Psychiatric case history of Vincent van Gogh”.

To describe this briefly, Vincent Van Gohg struggled with extreme unstable relationships and a major desire to please his father at a young age, though he was frequently rejected by his family.

He dealt with outbursts of anger, including arguing with his customers at his job.
In a bout of rage after an argument with his friend, Gauguin, Vincent Van Gohg cut his own ear off. Others believe Gauguin is the one who cut it off when Vincent was having an outburst.

Vincent alienated himself after becoming infatuated with art, as well struggled with suicidal behavior; he would ingest paint, turpentine, or lamp oil, often in the presence of another person. Because of this, he was often placed in an asylum.

A lack of a sense of self and identity was persistently shown throughout his life. He frequently shifted jobs and goals, as well as expressed his anxieties of being useless and worthless to the world. Additionally, his sister said, “Not only were his little sisters and brothers like strangers to him, but he was a stranger to himself.” –Bonnie Butterfield “The troubled life of Vincent van Gogh.”

Furthermore, he expressed his desire to take his life should he be abandoned. To his brother, he wrote “and without your friendship I would be driven to suicide without pangs of conscience—and as cowardly as I am, I would finally do it.” – Dietrich Blumer, M.D. “The Illness of Vincent Van Gogh.”
A few weeks after his brother wrote that he could no longer financially support him, on 27 July 1890, he shot himself and passed two days later from injuries.


Despite their struggles, these individuals are/were successful, inspire many, and some have successfully undergone treatment. Dr. Marsha Linehan even created one of the most effective treatments for BPD, and there is a lot more research on BPD today, which was unfortunately not available to many of these individuals. There’s always hope.

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