Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, #2016 yet again snuffed out another bright star in the galaxy, but for many fans Carrie Fisher will live on in their own light. I will remember Carrie Fisher not only as the fierce, heroic Princess Leia in Star Wars, but also as a mental health advocate who spoke about her battle with Bipolar Disorder. I can tell you many of my mentally ill friends looked up to her and admired her, because she was one of us.
Fisher has been unusually outspoken for years about her mental health battles, something many fans mourned when Fisher died at age 60 on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack several days earlier on an airplane. The actress talked candidly about bipolar disorder and her treatments and how they affected her life. She acknowledged there was still a stigma when talking about mental health, but she wanted to help fight it.
“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,” Fisher told ABC News.
My story is a little different. Though I am no longer ashamed about being diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder and having been hospitalized multiple times, I have felt shame and embarrassment about being so ill and disabled. I dislike feeling vulnerable and weak, and I also felt guilty and unworthy of sympathy. I was living in the Bay Area when I was first hospitalized, I was no longer able to work, and I soon ran out of money to pay for my health insurance and treatment. I didn’t want to go home so I borrowed money from my parents.
Continue reading “Because there’s no shame in being mentally ill”