Carrie Fisher did not shirk her role as an advocate for the de-stigmatization of bipolar illness. She brought the subject of bipolar into the popular culture in her writing and her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking” where she first posited the idea of “Bipolar Pride Day.”
Ms. Fisher was first diagnosed with bipolar at age 24 but like many people who suffer from the disorder, she did not accept it until 5 years later. She spoke about her lifelong struggles with both addiction and bipolar and her desire to erase the stigma of mental illness. Fisher described the disorder as “a kind of virus of the brain that makes you go very fast or very sad. Or both. Those are the fun days. So judgment isn’t, like, one of my big good things. But I have a good voice. I can write well.” Referring to the difficulty to maintain balance between mood swings, she added, “I’m not a good bicycle rider.”
Ms. Fisher demonstrated the relationship between bipolar and creativity that many mental health professionals have described for years. Psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind, is a proponent of this connection. Jamison writes, “There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness and terror involved in this kind of madness. When you’re high, it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars, and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones.” Painters such as Vincent van Gogh and Edvard Munch, among many other artists and musicians, have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder after their death.
Because of Ms. Fisher’s humor, brilliance, visibility, advocacy and self examination, the language of bipolar and mental disorders swept into popular culture, seeding online support groups and becoming featured in movies like “Silver Linings Playbook” and TV shows like “Monk” and “Homeland”. Fisher used her celebrity to demystify the diagnosis and show by example that an individual with bipolar illness can live well and thrive.
A warrior to the end, we will miss Ms.Fisher’s laser-like wit and courage.
Read more about Carrie Fisher’s Advocacy:http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/28/health/carrie-fisher-bipolar-disorder.html