Star Wars. Mental Illness. Acerbic.
These would be words I’d choose to describe myself. Or Carrie Fisher. Growing up a girl who knew a thing or two about a galaxy “far, far away,” I was in a class of my own. I make no apologies for my overt nerdy ramblings about the X-Men, Lord of the Rings, any number of Marvel characters and of course, Star Wars. I admittedly own more shirts with the words Episodes IV – VII (nope, don’t own any I-III) than most guys and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t miss a shot either. It’s not just my fangirling that leaves me with a blaster hole inside at the loss of Carrie Fisher, it’s because I lost someone like me.
When I was struggling with mental illness and looking for support, I didn’t have many heroes to look up to. Civil Rights has Martin Luther King Jr, Medgar Evers, and Ruby Bridges. Women’s Rights has Gloria Steinem, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Adams. Mental Illness doesn’t have many. We had Patty Duke and Carrie Fisher. In the long list of cruel pranks 2016 has played, BOTH we taken from us this year! And sadly (or freaking oddly) as I type this in a hotel bar, back-to-back songs played overhead were “Last Christmas” and “Under Pressure” as if to rub in the 2016 losses of George Michael and David Bowie this year… (FU 2016! Guess what? Nobody likes you anyway. You have NO friends.)
Carrie was special. I speak of her like I know her and in a way I do. She didn’t make mental illness her life. For Carrie, it wasn’t all consuming. Her approach was “I have mental illness. So what?” And that’s how I feel. Whereas I used to have great shame, embarrassment and would never tell a soul, Carrie helped give me my “so what” confidence. She laughed about her disorder but was never a Hollywood punchline. She made her illness her truth. She was real in a way that most celebrities aren’t. In Hollywood, she was royalty. The daughter of two stars. The star of one of the most successful movie franchises in history. Meryl Streep played HER in Postcards from the Edge. She was a script doctor, an author, and playwright.
But in the mental health world, she was the leader of our rebellion. She spoke of depression in a way that made it make sense to those of us who couldn’t make sense of a damn thing. Instead of us saying “Why is this happening to me,” she helped us say “This is what I have and this is how I will face it.” In our world of mental health warriors, she was our Warrior Princess. Her sharp tongue. Her witty sense of humor. Her humility and her love for her dog. My hero. Our leader has gone home leaving my fellow nerds without our Princess Leia and my mental health sufferers without our Royal Highness. Wherever she is in this Universe, I hope she put the plans in an R2 unit.
As per her request, “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” And that’s how she went.