When a Friend Said, 'Guess She's Not Your Hero Anymore' After News of Carrie Fisher's Autopsy

When I learned Carrie Fisher had died, I was heartbroken. I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, and I didn’t want to imagine a world without Princess Leia. That wasn’t the only reason I was devastated, though.

I am also an addict in long-term recovery. I spent my early recovery trying to find people who spoke to me: Celebrities, authors, doctors — anybody. Anything to feel like I was part of something, and not alone in the world.

On a friend’s recommendation, I watched Carrie’s one woman show, “Wishful Drinking.” I laughed, I cried… I eventually ordered every book she’d written. I couldn’t get enough of Carrie Fisher.

After her death, I started buying copies of her books for my friends. I wanted to keep spreading her humor and light. I felt like she knew how to say things about mental illness and addiction that I hadn’t been able to put into words.

Recently, her autopsy report was released, revealing drug use in her final days. So a friend said to me, “I guess she’s not your hero anymore.”

I had to take a second to process that. To assume she couldn’t relapse would be to assume she was infallible. We want to believe we can’t screw it all up, but, I know in my heart that none of us is perfect. Addiction is a chronic disease. That’s why you have to take it one day at a time. Every single day is its own challenge. I wouldn’t know how to explain that to someone who doesn’t struggle with addiction ( Though Carrie did — read “Postcards from the Edge”).

Addiction can rob you of everything. For me, it’s always there in the background, waiting for me to drop my guard. There have been so many times in my few short years of recovery that I’ve almost blown it. I also can’t pretend to understand the mental state of Carrie, who is someone I’ve never met… We will never know what she was going through.

When I think of Carrie Fisher, I see a strength not many of us have. She was brave enough to share her journey with us, and speak out against the crushing stigma. She was so beautiful, wise and talented. It was almost easy to forget she was also human. A human, who struggled with addiction.

I’ll tell you what I can’t forget. I can’t forget the despair I felt before I got help. I can’t forget how alone I felt, walking into a mental hospital to stay for a few months. In my experience, there’s a lot of shame and loneliness involved in being an addict.

I also can’t forget how much better I felt upon reading Carrie’s words. She spoke to me and for me, and she was so wonderfully funny and smart about it.

“No,” I told my friend, after a long silence. “She’ll always be my hero.”

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Photo via Wiki Commons.

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