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What Carrie Fisher Meant to Me as a Mental Health Advocate

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I’ve loved Carrie Fisher since childhood. My mom was (and still is) a huge “Star Wars” fan. The original movies came out before I was born, but in the 90’s they were digitally remastered and started showing in the movie theaters again. My mom urged my brother and I to come with her to see them. I immediately fell in love with the whole series.

However, Carrie, who played Princess Leia, always stuck out to me. Not only was she beautiful, but she was also smart, courageous and strong. So was Carrie Fisher in real life, who was much more than just Princess Leia. She was an open book about her mental health. Many know that Carrie battled bipolar disorder. Being the huge icon that she was, she could have kept quiet about it. However, she had no shame about her mental illness. Below is a quote of hers

“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.” – Carrie Fisher

That statement is so powerful to me, because so many are still afraid to speak out. The ugly stigma around mental illness makes others so afraid to speak their truth. I remember when I was one of those people. When I was still battling major depressive disorder, I was so ashamed and afraid to speak up. When I tried to end my life I was even more embarrassed, but in time I learned I had nothing to be embarrassed about. Millions of people battle mental illness. Carrie understood that, and she didn’t care about the hateful comments she might receive for speaking her truth.

People like Carrie are the reason so many people are now seeking help instead of ending their lives. She paved a way for many other advocates. I finally decided instead of being embarrassed, I’d fight for others to not feel embarrassed or ashamed. Just like Carrie I survived my illness, and even through recovery I’m still surviving!

So to know Carrie has passed away really tugged at my heartstrings. I loved her so much as a little girl in “Star Wars,” but I loved her even more so as an adult who has battled a serious mental illness. Carrie was a champion, and she was most definitely a survivor. Her strength will live on. She was an incredible actress, and the work she’s done for the mental health field and her advocating was extraordinary. She has left a legacy and I’m sorry she had to go, but as Master Yoda said, “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force.”

So may the force always be with you, Carrie.



If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock

Originally published: December 27, 2016
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