05

Jan

Reflecting On Carrie Fisher’s Advocacy Work

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Carrie Fisher wasn’t just an incredible actress: she was also a highly influential advocate in the fields of mental health and drug addiction.

Fisher passed away on Dec. 27, at the age of 60. The Star Wars actress went into cardiac arrest while flying from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23. She was rushed to a California hospital and treated for a heart attack, but eventually died at the facility.

She notoriously struggled with cocaine addiction during her Star Wars heyday. But it wasn’t until she was diagnosed at age 29 as bipolar that she began to understand that she was using drugs to quell her symptoms of mental illness. Fisher began to speak publicly about her struggles with both.

“I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple—just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully,” she told ABC News more than 20 years ago. “And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.”

She turned her struggles into a semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards From the Edge, which eventually was adapted into a 1990 film starring Meryl Streep. She also spoke at several conferences about her battle with bipolar disorder and the treatments that have been helpful for her.

Fisher even made light of her former drug addiction. When fans began screen-shotting a reported “coke nail” that she sported in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, she responded by saying, “I never used my fingernail for drugs. I used dollars or tiny spoons like any other respectable former drug addict.”

But through it all, Fisher was a survivor. She continued to soldier on with her work and life in the face of mental illness and encouraged others to do the same.

“I am mentally ill,” she said. “I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.”