24. Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

I feel no shame about this. Before you ask.

My official diagnosis at my doctor’s office is for major depressive disorder (that will never leave), panic disorder (which has kind of vanished) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (that I just learned about – I thought it was just anxiety).

I’ve been to half a dozen therapists in the past few years, though my official diagnosis came from the psychiatrist whom I visit once a month to update my medication. I’ve tried cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which worked very well for my anxiety. For my depression, at first no one could help me. I don’t think it’s as manageable by therapy but I do take regular medication which helps me function normally.

I do have a chemical imbalance. I have been in the hospital because of my mental illness. I have NO SHAME about that, putting it out there once more. Most people think that if they’re open about their mental illness, it will prohibit them from pursuing their careers. But really, a third of people do experience some form of mental illness in their lives; is my case really that rare?

No, because despite what our illnesses make us feel like, we are not alone.

I am not dangerous. I’m not pessimistic. I’m not daft. Medication doesn’t make me high and I do not become a walking vegetable. I function like everyone else. That’s the point of medication. More than that, I’ve tried yoga, veganism, different kinds of dance, leaving people who were toxic and harmful out of my life, everything people might suggest. It didn’t work. None of it.

Medication balances me out. And therapy helped me cling to happiness in desperate times.

Carrie Fisher was open about her struggles with bipolar disorder long before anyone else in Hollywood. She spoke about shock therapy and described it like a visit to the nail salon, if your nails were in your cereral cortex. She was an advocate and a supporter.

And she lived a full life. Despite the symptoms of a disease like that, because these disorders are diseases with symptoms and treatments. Like your cold and your stuffy nose, or your headache and your advil. She wrote and starred in plays, Meryl Streep played her in a movie, her books are my dear companions (finally someone who writes like I do – with her heart first.) and she was absolutely funny, with a rare, acerbic wit and passion. She was wacky, and she was talented, and she was open. To be open about your disorders and to fight for the eradication of any taboos. She’s why I’m here, in many ways.

“I heard someone once say we’re only as sick as our secrets,” Ms. Fisher wrote in “Wishful Drinking.” “If that’s true, then this book will go a long way to rendering me amazingly well.”

Mental illness is not who I am; I am brave, I’m silly, I’m romantic, I’m quick, I’m optimistic, I’m friendly and I’m kind. I perform and I sing and I do my work in time and I support my friends and I make time to watch Netflix. I travel and I befriend animals and I forgive.

To me, Carrie’s legacy is one of strength, courage, and above all, hope. 🙂

 

 

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