Carrie Fisher, Bipolar Disorder, Addiction & The People She Inspired
When Carrie Fisher passed away on Tuesday morning at age 60, she left behind a legacy of being one of the first and most vocal Hollywood celebrities and actors to speak openly about mental illness. Specifically, Fisher battled bipolar disorder and addiction throughout most of her life, but never was shy speaking about these demons, all the while never letting herself be solely defined by them.
So while most of the world will remember her as Princess Leia — the fierce, independent heroine in the original Star Wars movies — many people will remember her for her ability to give dignity to those living with the most debilitating silent disease — mental illness. As a champion for people with bipolar disorder and addiction, we remember her today along with millions of others.
Carrier Fisher, who died at her home on Tuesday morning after suffering from a heart attack on a flight back back home to Los Angeles from London on Friday. She was the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, but is best known for her starring role in the science-fiction movie, Star Wars, released in 1977 (as well as its two follow-on sequels).
Although first diagnosed with bipolar disorder at age 24, she didn’t come to accept the diagnosis until five years later. She blames her denial on her battles at the time with addiction (mainly cocaine throughout the early 1980s).
Given her popular presence on Twitter, it only seems fitting to turn to Twitter to get a glimpse of how well-loved she was — and how much she will be missed. The outpouring of well wishers on Twitter today has been overwhelming, and a tribute to the impact she’s had in helping defeat the discrimination and prejudice that comes with acknowledging one’s battle with a mental illness.
Here are a sample of a few of the tweets:
— Chris Biehn (@chrisbiehn) December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher explaining what 'bipolar' means to a little boy at comic con pic.twitter.com/1CzpspovFe
— Reptilia (@maaaaaadiison) December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher was someone who inspired me to be more open about my bipolar. Her legacy continues on in my story as I continue sharing it.
— Katie (@SnarkDivine) December 27, 2016
May her soul rest in eternal peace, as we return her to the heavens, in a galaxy far, far away. pic.twitter.com/6lkgcHam0J
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) December 27, 2016
As someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, Carrie Fisher helped me through so much and showed me how to love & accept myself. RIP Carrie.
— James Solomon (@vulcsmash) December 27, 2016
Thank you Carrie Fisher for helping millions of people to speak honestly and openly about mental illness, just as… https://t.co/4IjSr5smYn
— Priscilla Warner (@PrisWarner) December 27, 2016
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) December 27, 2016
@mattbEPT Carrie Fisher taught me that it was ok to be bipolar. That it doesn't make you weird or unlovable or just "other." She will be missed
— Sarah DiStefano (@SarahDiStefano2) December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher will always be remembered as Princess Leia. But she deserves to be remembered for her passionate mental health advocacy, too.
— J.H. Swanson (@jh_swanson) December 27, 2016
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) December 27, 2016
— Peter M. Olsen (@banishedcougar) December 27, 2016
The first time I felt like having bipolar disorder wasn't a terrible, incurable shame was when I heard Carrie Fisher had it, too.
— merry chREEstmas (@reeology) December 27, 2016
— Stelladia VS (@Stella_di_A) December 27, 2016
In honor of Carrie Fisher: I have bipolar disorder as well. https://t.co/jvM6euAdkS
— Stacey ⚘ Gotsulias (@StaceGots) December 27, 2016
We loved Carrie Fisher and her strong, independent stance and outspokenness when it came to her life and how she dealt with addiction and bipolar disorder (keeping in mind she never thought her condition defined her). She will forever remain an important star in the ongoing battle to help people understand that mental illness is a condition just like any physical disease, so it’s not one to belittle, make fun of, or discriminate against.
Perhaps she said it best in her book, Wishful Drinking:
“One of the things that baffles me […] is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
Here’s to you Carrie. May you rest in peace.
For further information
Grohol, J. (2016). Carrie Fisher, Bipolar Disorder, Addiction & The People She Inspired. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/12/27/carrie-fisher-bipolar-disorder-addiction-the-people-she-inspired/