When actor Carrie Fisher died on Tuesday, December 27 after suffering a heart attack at age 60, fans of the sci-fi Star Wars series and the role she played as Princess Leia Organa—and General Organa in a recent iteration of the series—took to social media to mourn her passing with heartfelt tributes. In addition to paying homage to the fictional characters she brought to life in Hollywood, many of Fisher’s fans also honored the way she candidly spoke about her own experience with mental health issues, such as bipolar and addiction, and how she worked to eliminate mental health stigma and improve treatment.
According to CNN, Fisher was given a bipolar diagnosis at 24 and struggled with drug and alcohol addiction in the 1970s and 1980s. She opened up about her experiences in writing and interviews and became an vocal advocate for mental health awareness. Some of her influences on improving mental health and reducing stigma include:
Carrie Fisher Wrote About Her Own Mental Health Experiences
Fisher wrote about her own experiences as a Hollywood icon with bipolar and about drug and alcohol abuse in novels and memoirs. Wishful Drinking, one of her most popular autobiographical works, was published in 2008 and discusses some of her experiences with bipolar, electroconvulsive therapy as a mental health treatment, alcoholism, and drug addiction. Many tragedies in her life were painted with candid humor and honesty in her published writing.
Carrie Fisher Humanized Her Experiences with Bipolar and Depression
Fisher was one of the most outspoken celebrities to talk about living with a mental health issue. She helped the public understand what daily life could be like when living with bipolar. In a 1995 Interview with ABC News’s Diana Sawyer, Fisher said, “I have two moods. One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam who stands on the shore and sobs … Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out.” She went on to do many interviews in which she shared her personal experiences, questioned the pervasiveness of mental health stigma, and advocated for better mental health treatment.
Carrie Fisher Spoke of the Courage It Takes to Live with Mental Health Issues
Carrie Fisher Advocated for Better Mental Health Treatment
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, less than half of adults with a diagnosable mental health issue and only about 1 in 5 children receive the mental health treatment they need. As previously mentioned, significant barriers to treatment are stigma and fear of mental health treatment. In her life, Fisher spoke adamantly about the need for treatment and how it saves lives, she appeared at rallies to argue for increased government funding for mental health services, and encouraged people living with mental health issues to seek treatments such as therapy and medication when needed.
Farewell to a Fierce Mental Health Ally
Fans of Fisher’s mental health advocacy said farewell in some of the following tweets:
Carrie Fisher did more to combat mental health stigma by being open about her struggles with bipolar and addiction than did most politicians
— Sara Benincasa🤘 (@SaraJBenincasa) December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher was a princess, a hero, a mental health advocate, & so much more. She inspired us to live boldly. She will be greatly missed.
— TWLOHA (@TWLOHA) December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher dedicated her platform to mental health awareness & female empowerment. She is a reason + reminder to keep up your fight. RIP
— h (@halsey) December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher's Postcards From the Edge was the first book I ever read about mental health. It is raw and brilliant and funny and inspiring.
— Matt Haig (@matthaig1) December 27, 2016
- Carrie Fisher pushes mental health. (2001, February 28.) Retrieved from http://staugustine.com/stories/022801/ent_0228010001.shtml#.WGRUXvkrKM_
- Howard, J. (2016, December 27). Carrie Fisher was a champion for mental health, too. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/27/health/mental-health-carrie-fisher/
- Mental health myths and facts. (n.d.) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/
- Migala, J. (2016, December 28). 8 powerful Carrie Fisher quotes about mental health. Retrieved from http://ew.com/news/2016/12/28/carrie-fisher-quotes-mental-health/?xid=entertainment-weekly_socialflow_twitter
- PrimeTime: Carrie Fisher interview (2016, December 21). Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=132315&page=1
- Worland, J. (2016, December 27). Carrie Fisher didn’t just break boundaries onscreen. Retrieved from http://time.com/4618486/carrie-fisher-dead-mental-health-legacy/
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