Last year Carrie Fisher died. I had been in our spare room (hereafter referred to as the Purple Room) with the new kittens. I walked into the kitchen to start another load of laundry when Avie told me. I just completely stopped what I was doing and literally sank into a chair. I remember thinking dimly that I was scripting a little but didn't give a shit; I was honestly too shocked to do anything because reports up until this moment was that she was stable with a side of 'she'll make it'. I wasn't expecting this.
My shock and sudden feelings of loss dwindled down to one thing: who will speak for me now? Stephen Fry was far from my thoughts and all I could focus on was the fact that in my mind, she was the only celebrity who was openly living with something big like Bipolar and wasn't ashamed to admit it. In fact she almost glamorized it. She made it normal and okay that she had a therapy dog who she traveled with. She made it okay to not be neurotypical. She was someone that I grew up watching, someone who I imitated by applying bagels to my ears to pretend to be her. She made me feel normal.
And she was gone.
“I outlasted my problems [...] 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.”
On a day-to-day level, Carrie Fisher didn't cross my mind all that much. When STAR WARS: The Force Awakens opened, Ms. Fisher was doing the talk show circuit promoting the film. Certainly I was aware of her diagnosis, but I hadn't thought of it since I had recieved mine. So all of a sudden there was this hilarious woman with Bipolar Disorder who was talking candidly about one of big mental illnesses which affected her on a daily basis.
I want to do right by the General. And that's why I'm up at 2 in the morning, feverishly writing about how important it is to normalize mental illness. Daily, I struggle and daily I make the decision to keep moving, to take my meds, and to work towards a life worth living.
“Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic — not ‘I survived living in Mosul during an attack’ heroic, but an emotional survival [...] An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder. That’s why it’s important to find a community — however small — of other bipolar people to share experiences and find comfort in the similarities.”
Thank you, General Fisher. We've got this from here. ✩