By now, the internet has paid tribute to the late Carrie Fisher by the way of lightsaber vigil and remembering her Cinnabon-like braids.
Most will remember her for fighting the Empire in Star Wars, but she also fought a fierce battle for respect as a person with mental illness. Carrie came out about her bipolar disorder diagnosis in the 1980s before most people were cool with it. “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,” she said. Like so many people with serious mental illness, she died way too soon.
She bravely advocated for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which is empirically proven to be a leading treatment for depression and mania, but still scares the shit out of most people. Carrie Fisher told it like it is: “They put you to sleep. They give you a medication so there are no more convulsions or anything ... It's over very quickly and you go home and take a nap,” she said. But she also talked about the benefits noting that it "punched the dark lights out of my depression” and acknowledged that like others, she experienced memory loss as a side effect.
On her website, Carrie highlights mental health resources including ECT. She quotes the Mayo Clinic! In an age where celebs go into rehab for “exhaustion” or disclose their illness as part of a PR campaign, Carrie Fisher used her fame to explain how treatments worked for her.
That made her a force for good.