Amber Portwood Admits Declining Mental Health Has Her “On the Edge”

Amber Portwood Admits Declining Mental Health Has Her “On the Edge” August 13, 2019
Amber Portwood on Teen Mom OG

Amber Portwood’s mental health deteriorated in the months leading up to her assault on her boyfriend, Andrew Glennon. In the latest episode of Teen Mom OG, Portwood described herself as a ticking timebomb that was on the verge of sabotaging her relationship.

Only months before Amber Portwood wielded a machete at her boyfriend and son James, she sat her psychiatrist’s office to discuss her mental health decline. According to Portwood, her moods were all over the place. Additionally, she noted that she had been feeling more depressed and anxiety-ridden.

During the episode, she attempted to share her concerns with her boyfriend, Andrew Glennon. As the couple sat on the couch, they discussed her doctor’s recommendation that she move to a state that has better weather. Amber confided in Andrew that she is always happiest when she’s in California or Florida because she can spend more time outside.

However, the Teen Mom OG star said she isn’t willing to move due to her daughter Leah. Amber’s ex-fiance, Gary Shirley, has primary custody of their daughter and live in Indiana. Amber shared with Andrew that she wanted Leah to know that she would never leave her.

During the same conversation, Amber is set off by her son, holding a cup of water and barking dogs. Her agitation and short fuse are evident in the shortness she uses to address the dogs and her son.

Later Amber decided to see her psychiatrist to discuss her current struggles with her mood. On the way there, she opens up to Andrew about her struggles. She shares that her mental illness makes her feel “crippled.” Amber wishes that she could be more dainty and proper. In response to Amber, Andrew says that she should “act dainty.”

Portwood is not happy with Andrew and accuses him of not taking her seriously. The two begin to argue about Andrew’s inability to listen and help her. When Andrew admits he tried to lighten the mood, Amber says it’s like talking to a clown.

By the time they arrive at the psychiatrist clinic, Amber is irritated and on edge. When she sits on the couch, she tells her doctor that everything sets her off. Additionally, she says she can’t sleep or eat. When the doctor asks Portwood about her mood, she confides that everything annoys and enrages her.

Her doctor appears concerned and attempts to walk Amber through her emotions. As she opens up more, he asks Amber if she will sabotage her relationship with Andrew. Amber admits that mentally, she believes that she will find a way to ruin her relationship. With tears running down her cheeks, Amber said, “it would be horrible” if her behavior resulted in Andrew leaving.

As the episode wraps up, Amber calls herself a “ticking time bomb” and on edge about to explode.

Sadly, her meeting with her doctor foreshadowed the events that happened next. In July, she blew up at Andrew Glennon. During a fit of rage, she hit him with a shoe and wielded a machete at him.

Following the incident, police arrested Portwood and charged her with three felonies. As a result of her actions, her relationship with Glennon is all about over. She is allowed supervised visitation with her one-year-0ld son.

Andrew Glennon filed a petition with the court for full custody of their son. He’s spoken publically about his attempts to help Amber in the months leading up to the attack. In interviews, he’s said Portwood refused to take her medications prescribed by doctors.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder can experience intense and shifting emotions. Additionally, they can be extremely impulsive which can lead to dangerous behavior. Due to shifting moods, personal relationships can be extremely challenging. Individuals can intensely love someone and then swiftly move to hate for the person.

NAMI states that people with Borderline Personality Disorder benefit from psychotherapy. Treatment includes Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and psychodynamic psychotherapy.

At this time, there is no known genetic cause for the disorder. However, individuals that experience sexual abuse or trauma during childhood are at risk of developing BPD. According to NAMI, BPD and bipolar can occur at the same time.

Treatment can be challenging for individuals with BPD and bipolar. For Amber, she appeared to take some steps to help herself. However, she also refused help in other ways.

Amber Portwood will be in court later this month for a pretrial hearing. The final episode of Teen Mom OG airs next week.

*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles related to trending topics and crime on her column.

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  • Lisa Cybergirl

    By the time they arrive at the psychiatrist clinic, Amber is irritated
    and on edge. When she sits on the couch, she tells her doctor that
    everything sets her off. Additionally, she says she can’t sleep or eat.
    When the doctor asks Portwood about her mood, she confides that
    everything annoys and enrages her.

    This sounds a lot like a manic state.

  • Madison Blane

    My mom is Borderline, and for years her doctors were treating her for BiPolar instead. They have overlapping symptoms, but the major difference is that a Borderline patient’s moods cycle far more rapidly — like flipping a switch — and their mania is a response to provocation (though not always one that outsiders can detect). Something peaves them; the mania doesn’t come out of the blue. And ALL their moods are intense, not just mania and/or depression.

    There is no balance, no middle ground; it’s all extremes. They’re the kind of person who is always in the middle of some sort of crisis; it’s as if they just naturally create chaos. It means all their interpersonal relationships are tumultuous. One could be forgiven for concluding that they just like to fight and argue, owing to the fact that they are so very sensitive to perceived wrongs. They’ll ruminate on past interactions scrutinizing for the smallest sleight, and get furiously upset over something where nobody else can figure out what the problem is. They fear rejection so deeply that they end up creating it, simply because partners can’t deal with living on eggshells, constantly being accused of not loving them, or supporting them, or reassuring them, or giving enough to assure the Borderline patient of their love. Nothing is ever enough to fill the void.

    And once they’re angry like that, they begin to engage in splitting – devaluing the person who only moments before they idolized. When my mother is angry with me, she says the most cruel thing she can think of. She doesn’t behave as if she’s afraid that I won’t love her anymore — she behaves as if she despises me — but fear of rejection is what’s driving her. It’s truly miserable for everyone involved. But it’s impossible to misdiagnose once you’ve been around someone with it. I highly suspected that’s what was going on with Amber from the very first episode.

  • Lisa Cybergirl

    I think I seized upon bipolar because I’ve got it, and it felt familiar. Your description of borderline seems to fit better.

  • Madison Blane

    That’s a rough thing to live with; I hope you’re doing well. It is completely understandable, though, that Amber’s behavior would feel familiar to someone who has experienced bipolar mania. BiPolar is far more prevalent and just seeing the mania in isolation it’s impossible to tell the difference – even seasoned professionals can’t do it. That’s why my mom was treated as bi-polar for so long, because she only sought help in the middle of a crisis of mania or depression, so no professional was ever able to observe her over a period of time in order to see the pattern (which is actually more like sustained chaos). It wasn’t until she was committed involuntarily to inpatient care for a few months (for openly discussing her plans of kidnap and murder, as if that’s an entirely rational response to divorce), and the doctors treating her were able to interview the family extensively, that someone finally realized the true issue. I hear that delayed diagnosis actually pretty common for personality disorders, because in order to obtain that diagnosis the symptoms have to be consistently present across life stages and in multiple circumstances (which mental health professionals really don’t have an opportunity to observe), and the patients themselves tend to be unreliable narrators, so unless the professionals can talk to many people who interact with the patient, they’ll be making an incomplete assessment. So if Amber has an accurate diagnosis this early in life (thanks to all the film footage of her over several years and in varied scenarios), she’s actually ahead of the curve in obtaining the help she needs. Hopefully that will be to her benefit, and she can learn to manage it before it starts to seriously affect her children too.

  • Lisa Cybergirl

    I’ve got the right meds going, and I’m doing fine.

    I hope your mom is getting the right treatment to make her (and everyone else’s) life a little less chaotic.

  • “Borderline Personality Disorder” is a reaction to trauma, not a “disorder”.

  • Because it’s easier to break away from someone when you’re doing the pushing.

  • Baby Buddha Belly

    She refuses to take her meds. Seems like that would be the first thing that needs adjusting before anything else? It’s like expecting a car to run well without oil. Take your meds, Amber!