Carrie Fisher died this past Tuesday at the age of 60 after a recent heart attack. The actress was known to many mostly for her work in Star Wars as Princess Leia. However to those suffering from a mental illness she was more than her previous movie role; she was a mental health advocate that spoke about her struggles. Fisher suffered from Bipolar Disorder and was very open about it, in hopes to eradicate the stigma that she admitted still exists today.
Fisher told Diane Sawyer in 2000, “I thought they told me I was manic depressive to make me feel better about being a drug addict.” Carrie Fisher struggled with addiction and this was well known in the 1980s. After she went to rehab, she wrote a novel about her experience called Postcards from the Edge. It was during this period she came to accept her illness and embraced it fully.
Fisher told USA today, “There is treatment and a variety of medications that can alleviate your symptoms if you are manic depressive… You can lead a normal life, whatever that is.”
Carrie Fisher – Mental Health Advocate
She was not only an advocate for speaking out, but it was also how she went about it. She spoke of her battles in a way that made them seem normal instead of painful and tragic. In this way, she reached many and made them feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin.
In 2008 She wrote a memoir titled Wishful Drinking. In the book she writes:
I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. I’m apparently very good at it and am honored for it regularly.
Bipolar Disorder affects 5.7 million adults in the United States or roughly 2% to 7%. That is no small number. Many of them are also probably also Star Wars fans. 2016 has been a year of many celebrity losses, including David Bowie and George Michael. Carrie Fisher will certainly be missed, both as an actress and as an advocate for those suffering from mental health disorders throughout The U.S. and the world.