I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know the extent of Carrie Fisher’s badassery until she died at the end of 2016. Sure, I knew her as Princess Leia and as a minor character on Catastophe, but I did not realize what a mental health advocate, feminist, and all-around cool person she was until I was reading the spate of articles published after her death. I mean, the woman’s ashes are now interred in her beloved giant Prozac pill.
Carrie Fisher was radically open and honest about her bipolar disorder, as well as her struggles with addiction, in a way that few are but many could learn from. At the Indiana Comic Con last year, she described bipolar disorder like this: “It is a kind of virus of the brain that makes you go very fast or very sad. Or both. Those are fun days. So judgment isn’t, like, one of my big good things. But I have a good voice. I can write well. I’m not a good bicycle rider. So, just like anybody else, only louder and faster and sleeps more.”
Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 24–three years after her debut as Princess Leia Organa in the first (now fourth) Star Wars film. However, Fisher would say that it took her five more years to “accept” the diagnosis. I like to think that her openess in speaking and writing on the subject helped others accept their diagnoses–whether of bipolar disorder or another mental illness–more quickly and with little shame.
Lots of brilliant Carrie Fisher quotes have been floating around the interwebs, and I’d like to share a few of my favorite ones that pertain to mental health here.
My Favorite Quotes from Carrie Fisher on Mental Illness
- “One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” [Wishful Drinking]
- “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.” [Interview with ABC News]
- “That’s my way of surviving, to abstract it into something that’s funny and not dangerous.” [Interview with People]
- “Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.” [Interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
- “Happy is one of the many things I’m likely to be over the course of a day and certainly over the course of a lifetime. But I think if you have the expectation that you’re going to be happy throughout your life–more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time–well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic.” [Wishful Drinking]
- “Statistics say that a range of mental disorders affects more than one in four Americans in any given year. That means millions of Americans are totally batshit. But having perused the various tests available that they use to determine whether you’re manic depressive. OCD, schizo-affective, schizophrenic, or whatever, I’m surprised the number is that low. So I have gone through a bunch of the available tests, and I’ve taken questions from each of them, and assembled my own psychological evaluation screening which I thought I’d share with you.
So, here are some of the things that they ask to determine if you’re mentally disordered
1. In the last week, have you been feeling irritable?
2. In the last week, have you gained a little weight?
3. In the last week, have you felt like not talking to people?
4. Do you no longer get as much pleasure doing certain things as you used to?
5. In the last week, have you felt fatigued?
6. Do you think about sex a lot?
If you don’t say yes to any of these questions either you’re lying, or you don’t speak English, or you’re illiterate, in which case, I have the distinct impression that I may have lost you a few chapters ago.” [Wishful Drinking]
Do you have a favorite quote from Carrie Fisher on mental illness? Or life in general? Let me know here, or tweet at me @rsuppok.
This post does contain a few affiliate links; as always, my opinions are mine and mine alone.