Carrie Fisher's Death Inspires Frank Discussions About Mental Health
Start writing a post
Entertainment

Carrie Fisher's Death Inspires Frank Discussions About Mental Health

What we can all learn from the late "Star Wars" hero.

7
Carrie Fisher's Death Inspires Frank Discussions About Mental Health
Wikimedia

Carrie Fisher, the beloved actress, writer, script doctor and mental health advocate, died December 27, 2016 to the despair of hundreds of thousands in the "Star Wars" fandom and beyond.

Throughout her life, Fisher was known for her candid wit and refusal to bury her true feelings in political jargon. That carried over to the way she talked about her own experience with mental illness and addiction, a subject often considered taboo in general society, especially when coming from celebrities as big as the Princess Leia actress.

“I’m very sane about how crazy I am,” Fisher is quoted as saying.

It perfectly captures her general attitude about her mental illness. Yes, she struggled daily in a battle against her own mind due to bipolar disorder and drug addiction. Yes, sometimes she lost. However, she wasn’t going to hide it or let it keep her from getting what she wanted out of life. She was strong while being unapologetically mentally ill; she didn’t have to “defeat” depression to be a success story. She was both incredible and depressed.

Considering the icon Fisher was for the mental health community, it is worth examining why her candid nature was so refreshing. The truth is, mental illness is still heavily censored as a “no-no” topic in general conversation.

According to Newsweek, one in five Americans report that they have experienced mental health stigma, which sets them apart from general society, including from their family and friends. They are assigned to the metaphorical “mentally ill” box, where they face discrimination and prejudice surrounding something as innate as sexuality or ethnicity.

Due to the fact that mental illness is so stigmatized, people who are open about their struggle can be isolated, and experience shame, blame, hopelessness, and distress, according to a report from Australia's Mental Health Commission.

People can be forced to hide their mental illness and have trouble reaching out for help from their peers because of the way it is viewed by society at large. One of the most enduring stereotypes is that mentally ill people are dangerous, especially those suffering from “schizophrenia, alcoholism and drug dependence,” writes Psychology Today. Another is that those suffering from certain disorders, including depression, eating disorders and addiction, are not worthy of sympathy because their misery is their own fault and doing.

And with so much working against them, here was Carrie. Completely unwilling to hide the fact that mental illness was an active, constant presence in her life, as it is for so many others. There were kids in the "Star Wars" audience who looked up to her as their iron-willed, courageous princess/rebel leader and realized that she wasn't giving in and hiding the most vulnerable parts of herself. She was putting them up for everyone to see in the hopes that someone watching would be inspired to love themselves as fully as she seemed to love them.

It isn’t like there’s a lot of places for those suffering from mental illness or addiction to turn to for comfort, either. Stigma affects their life beyond direct interactions; representations of them in major media can also be toxic. For example, anytime there is a mass murder, the solutions are either terrorism or mental illness. This can drive people to believe anyone with a mental illness is dangerous, unpredictable or can easily be treated if they wish to be so.

Those stigmas don’t just cause hurt feelings. People are driven away from seeking treatment because they don’t want to be labeled as "crazy." Some people have admitted to crimes they did not commit rather than disclosing that their alibi is that they were enduring a stay at a mental hospital, according to a report from Psych Central. People just aren’t allowed to talk about it.

That is why Carrie Fisher mattered. She was one of the most well-known, celebrated actresses of her time, a part of one of the most successful franchises to ever take to the box office. And she was willing to expose herself and her own mental health battle in order to ensure that the generation to come after her could breathe a little easier and talk a little bit louder about the stigma of mental illness.

“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.”

Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
relationships

I Didn't Know That I Would Lose My Best Friend To Her Boyfriend

I didn't know that you would stop doing the things that make you happy. The things everyone used to judge you for. You are the type of person who does things on YOUR terms and now they're on his.

3500
I Didn't Know That I Would Lose My Best Friend To Her Boyfriend
unsplash.com

As your best friend, all I ever want is for you to be happy. Because as best friends, we know exactly what makes the other happy. I know all your weird and quirky lingo. I know how much you hate certain foods and most of all, I know the things that are important to you in life.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

How to Celebrate Valentine's Day Without a Valentine

You know YOU are not determined by your romantic status

8111
How to Celebrate Valentine's Day Without a Valentine
https://www.southbostontoday.com/celebrating-valentines-day-in-southie-next-thursday-of-course/

Although the most romantic and love-filled holiday is right around the corner, it's important to know that Feb.14, the middle day of the shortest month of the year, doesn't need to be determined by your current romantic status. With that being said, you can either choose to sulk over the fact that you're single or you can make the best out of Valentine's Day without even having one.

Here are a few ideas to celebrate the day:

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

7 Fun Facts About The Eiffel Tower

The iconic landmark is reinventing itself with a splashy new color.

9698
Eiffel Tower

Soon, the 2024 Summer Olympics are coming to Paris, and the Eiffel Tower will be in the spotlight.

Embedded so much into Paris's identity, the iconic landmark is no stranger to historic events and world-class gatherings over the years. It is sure to shine again.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

Blue Skies Weren't Always Blue

You don't just start as the person you are meant to be; there is a journey full of ups and downs that mold a person, so this is my journey.

7703
Blue Skies Weren't Always Blue

Overall I'd love to say I grew up a happy overly enthusiastic child that was taught to love herself and be loved by everyone else, but I can't say that and I never will. My smile wasn't always as bright as it is today, but this is the story behind my smile, the story about how I got here to the happiest place I'll ever be. I'll begin at freshman year of high school.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The Heart Wants what the Heart Wants

Just remember sometimes it is gonna hurt, whether we want it to or not!

9211
The Heart Wants what the Heart Wants
Where to start...... Let me start with the cliche that life throws us curveballs and what we do with it is what counts.

One day he walked into my life. UNEXPECTED! And one day he walked out!

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments