The world may remember Carrie Fisher most for her role as Princess Leia in the wildly popular Star Wars movies, but those of us in the mental health community will forever miss her humor and unashamed honesty about her struggles with mental illness and addiction.
We lost an icon today. A brave and beautiful soul who wasn't ashamed of her mental illness or drug problems. In December of 2000, she appeared on ABC's 20/20 in an interview with Diane Sawyer and said, "I'm manic depressive. I own it. I'm mentally ill. I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital."
I wasn't keeping track back then, but can only guess that she was one of few celebrities at the time who would talk openly on camera about what life was like living with mental illness.
She described bipolar disorder as, "Not unlike a tour of duty in Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside)." (from her memoir Wishful Drinking, 2008)
Carrie understood the importance of finding a supportive community when facing the long and challenging journey of living a life with a mental illness diagnosis. Her most recent column for The Guardian, just last month, she encouraged a woman who wrote to her asking how to find peace when your brain functions like a non-stop seesaw. Carrie responded:
We are grateful to Carrie for her powerful, honest, brave contributions to the mental health community. We'll miss her terribly.