She was the star that started wars over stigma and discrimination against mental illness and those who suffer from it.
Carrie Fisher, best known for her spectacular performances in the Star Wars Franchise playing Princess Leia, she was hugely successful throughout her career, as a writer of ‘Postcards from the Edge’, in which she was nominated for a BAFTA film Award to her catalogue of nominations for her acting in the Star Wars Franchise.
For me though her greatest achievement was her perfected way of discussing her mental health issues and persuading others to open up about their own. In Hollywood (and everywhere else) people tend to stay quiet about issues such as mental health but she didn’t. She used her platform to convey a message of hope to many individuals suffering from mental health problems; “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I’m not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.”
She played an important role in moving forward progress on an issue that had been stagnant for so long.
Fisher struggled throughout her career with drugs which was made worse because of her mental health issues which included Bipolar Disorder. An extremely debilitating mood disorder which sees an individual’s mood fluctuate through extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression) but true to form she was extremely open and honest about it shown in one quote: “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.”
She opened up about her body image issues and the overwhelming pressures and demands thrust upon her in Hollywood. I know too well the catastrophic and burdening effect that body image issues can have on a person: the constant battle to perfect yourself so that you can be accepted by society, the turbulent tremors that creep through your head thinking if only I looked better. I can’t imagine how much of a struggle it must have been to be her, being in the spotlight constantly but that’s what was so intriguing about Fisher, her incredible honesty about her struggles.
Fisher’s bravery and honesty is a great example of how we should all look upon mental illness and how as a society we can face this challenge. She showed how just simply talking about mental health as a society we can overcome the barriers to recovery for so many stopping saddening and avoidable tragedies from happening. We as a society must now expand on the legacy of Carrie Fisher with the same sense of urgency she felt and once and for all create mental health equality.
I leave you with a great quote from Fisher which symbolises the approach we must take forward:
“If you feel like your child or friend or spouse is showing signs of this illness, if you can get them in touch with somebody else they can talk to and share their experience with and not just feel like they’re being told they’re ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ or ‘stupid,’ then they can relate somehow.”
By Danny Bowman: Parliament Street Mental Health Spokesman