Carrie Fisher wore many hats throughout her lifetime. Obviously her most famous one was as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films – films that were central to the childhood of so many like me.
In later life however she also donned the hat of mental health advocate. Carrie fought a long and hard battle with bipolar disorder and played a tremendous part in helping raise awareness and tackle the stigma that all too often accompanies mental health conditions.
She was the fantasy of many teenage boys growing up, but for me, it was in her later life that you could really see her shine bright. With all the ridiculous furore over whether she had aged well when the latest installments of Star Wars came out, one thing was stronger than ever – the glow and sparkle in her eyes and her ability to cut straight to the main point of the issue.
“Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”
Fisher later added: “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.”
She brought humour and openness to the world of mental health. She sparkled when you would forgive her for having being ground down by her condition. For me as childhood defining her role in Star Wars was, her long term legacy will be that of mental health advocate.
Carrie, we thank you for all you did and all your legacy will continue to do.
RIP, I leave you all with some of my favourite quotes of hers:
“One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder,” she wrote.
“In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls,” she continued. “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.”
“…it’s important to find a community – however small – of other bipolar people to share experiences and find comfort in the similarities.”