Remembering Carrie Fisher: A Rebel Against the Stigma of Mental Health and Addiction

by Jeffrey Juergens ❘  

Changing the Conversation around Mental Health and Addiction: Carrie Fisher’s Legacy

Our entire galaxy has been shattered with the news of Carrie Fisher’s passing on Tuesday. While her death has prompted an outpour of adoration for her portrayal of Princess Leia, she’ll also be remembered as a hero of addiction treatment and mental health advocacy.

Over a span of decades, Carrie spoke openly about her personal battle with substance addiction and mental illness, teaching countless individuals who suffer that their struggles do not define them.

Carrie Fisher had an enormous impact on spreading awareness about addiction and mental illness.

Carrie’s dual diagnosis is a familiar scenario for many fighting the same war. She began abusing marijuana at 13, later experimenting with LSD in her late teens. Shortly after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in her 20s – and refusing to accept the diagnosis – she overdosed and was rushed to the emergency room.

But her traumatic brush with death set the stage for the biggest role of her life: a pioneer for millions who suffer from addiction and co-occurring mental disorders.

Carrie’s brutal honesty and candor in the way she spoke about mental health and addiction is a sobering reminder of how important it is to continue the conversation about substance abuse and mental health. Maintaining an open dialogue about mental health and addiction helps to demystify both subjects, as well as shatter the stigma that often surrounds the two. It can also dispel fears many people hold about being judged or outcasted for deciding to seek treatment.

Thanks to Carrie’s outspokenness, more people now realize that it’s possible to thrive in the challenges they face with their mental health or toxic abuse habits. Her bravery and strength in the adversity of addiction is something to always be admired.

Here are some of our team’s favorite words of inspiration about overcoming mental illness and drug use from the Legend herself.

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On acceptance:

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.

- - In an interview with Diane Sawyer, 2000

The legend who played Princess Leia was courageous in her battle against substance abuse and bipolar disorder.On courage:

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.

- - In her memoir Wishful Drinking, 2008

On the challenges:

We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges. Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic . . . an emotional survival. An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder.

- - In her Guardian advice column, 2016

On the importance of getting help:

Without medication I would not be able to function in this world. Medication has made me a good mother, a good friend, a good daughter.

- - At a rally in Indianapolis, 2001

Carrie’s contributions to mental health and addiction awareness will continue to have a lasting impact. Our thoughts are with Carrie’s family and loved ones during this intensely difficult time.

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