I’m still in shock over the death of actress, writer, and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher. While I am one who does not usually become upset over someone I have never met, her death has really affected me. Carrie was a badass lady that I really looked up to. Not only did she play a strong, independent, smart, and brave Princess Leia (who later became General Leia Organa), she was all of those things herself. She took no sh*t from anyone and was one of the most authentic people in Hollywood.
While Carrie was known for playing Princess Leia, she was also a mental health advocate and raging feminist. Carrie was incredibly open about her struggles with bipolar disorder and her struggles with addiction, which then broke down the stigma surrounding both. She was quoted saying things such as:
- “I'm fine, but I'm bipolar. I'm on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I'm never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It's like being a diabetic.”
- “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I'm still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.”
- “I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital.”
Carrie never hid the fact that she suffered from bipolar disorder and never, ever romanticized her mental illness – in fact, she was incredibly blunt and always told it as it was. While Carrie absolutely struggled with bipolar disorder, she was able to function in every day life: “If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That's my word for it.”
Not only was Carrie transparent with her mental illness and struggles with bipolar disorder, she was with her battles with addiction. With her bipolar disorder, drugs made her “feel normal” and it was a way for her to self-medicate. Carrie also stated “I went to a doctor and told him I felt normal on acid, that I was a light bulb in a world of moths. That is what the manic state is like.” During the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, Carrie said of her cocaine use: “Slowly, I realized I was doing a bit more drugs than other people and losing my choice in the matter.”
Carrie was not only an actress, mental health advocate, and feminist, but a writer and author. She wrote books, Postcards from the Edge, Wishful Drinking, Surrender the Pink, The Best Awful There Is, Shockaholic, Delusions of Grandma, and just released November 2016, The Princess Diarist. She also was a script doctor, where she would review scripts and add in humor and emotion that was once missing. Carrie understood language, emotion, and what people connected to.
Carrie never had tolerance for nonsense and that shone through in her writing, but especially in her social media accounts. In 2015, when some trolls criticized Carrie’s weight and appearance on her portrayal of General Leia Organa in The Force Awakens, she said: “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.”
Carrie was a woman that always spoke her mind and never held back, even in the face of those who wanted her to just shut up. Carrie’s portrayal of Princess and General Leia Organa and Carrie in reality both were independent women who took no sh*t from anyone. Leia and Carrie inspired women around the world from the 1970s onward and will continue to inspire generations of women to be as badass and independent as they were.
If people want to honor Carrie, we need to speak up, speak out, be unapologetic for being ourselves, stand up to injustice and bullies, be open about mental illness and addiction, and be unstoppable queens – just like Carrie was.
Rest in peace, dear Carrie. You inspired me and I will follow your lead.