Mental illness can affect anyone regardless of income, sex, or ethnicity. No one knows this better than Brandon MarshallBrandon Marshall who plays wide receiver for the Chicago Bears. Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in June 2011. Marshall says that mental illness is something that impacts all of us as human beings, regardless whether it’s something that is experienced personally, with family or friends, or within the greater community.

That’s why the football star made a risky move and wore green shoes originally banned by the NFL at the October 10 game where the Bears battled the New York Giants. Marshall said the shoes were to bring awareness and support to Mental Health Awareness Week. Prior to the game, the NFL sent Marshall a letter backing off the original ban but advised that it would issue a hefty fine for breaking the rules. And indeed, it did – Marshall was later fined $10,500, which he said he planned to match with a donation to his charity, the Brandon Marshall Foundation and Project Borderline.

It is estimated that as many as 20 percent of the population has some type of mental health problem. Yet, the topic continues to remain something that is difficult for some people to talk about. Marshall hopes to change all that by publicly sharing his own personal journey with BPD and doing his part to raise awareness for those silently living with mental illness for fear of confronting stigma.

For a long time, Marshall didn’t know what was causing his volatile mood swings, lack of joy despite his career success, feelings of loneliness and boredom, and intense fear of abandonment. He described his diagnosis as a light in his “dark room,” allowing him to better understand his thoughts and emotions. For some, BPD leads to self-harm behaviors and suicidal tendencies.

Marshall has said that football is not his purpose in life, but rather his platform to raise awareness and help for others also living with mental illness. If you or someone you know just feels that something isn’t quite right, don’t ignore it. Contact Family Guidance Center to learn more about issues affecting mental health.