Just yesterday, I wrote this post about how amazing Rogue One is, and how it inspired me to write more.
Today, Carrie Fisher died.
And I feel like I’ve been stabbed in my heart. For so many reasons, I loved Carrie Fisher.
As a child, I loved her — she was the first princess I’d ever seen that fired a blaster, stood up to the bad guys, and didn’t take anything from anyone.
She was STRONG!
Something that very few women, even, (and sorry, my legions of Wonder Woman fans) Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman was. As a child of the 70’s, I had very little to see. Girls were ladies, and princesses, and we played with dolls, and girls weren’t the hero. They didn’t take care of themselves.
Maybe it was timing. Maybe I was already strong and I didn’t realize it, or recognize it in myself, but I connected to Princess Leia. I pretended to be her for years. I acted out every scene she was in myself, or used my action figures–and yes, I had every Princess Leia action figure I could get–to act them out.
I was convinced that I could do those famous bun hairstyles. Possibly part of the reason I became a hairdresser, at least subconsciously, was because of her iconic hair in all of the movies.
But it wasn’t just in Star Wars that I loved her. I loved her in When Harry Met Sally. The rolodex scene, you all! The rolodex scene! I loved her in Soapdish, The Burbs… The list goes on and on. It was so wonderful to me to flip on a movie, and not know she was in it, and boom, there she was, like a friend smiling back at me on screen.
An icon of my generation.
And it wasn’t until I was older that I realized she and I connected in an even stronger way.
As many of you know, Carrie Fisher battled addiction, and also was diagnosed bipolar. She was an outspoken advocate about bipolar disorder, trying to remove the stigma that many of her generation and older had against the disorder.
Bipolar isn’t an easy disorder to live with. I know, because I was diagnosed with it almost twenty years ago. The intense amount of mental toughness needed to function is immense, and while I know what I have experienced as non-celebrity, I cannot fathom what a famous person like Carrie must have gone through.
To deal with not only the stigma, but the fact that anything she did, she was criticized for it. If she gained weight, she was destroyed in the media and online. If she dressed even slightly different or went out without makeup, she was suddenly on death’s door. I cannot fathom that sort of vile anger being spilled in my direction on a daily basis.
How she managed to balance that negativity along with the disease, I don’t know. I imagine many days she didn’t.
I like to also think, though, that part of her balance was her writing. For me, the writing has always centered me in a way I cannot explain or quantify. I only know that it does.
Carrie wrote several books as well, Wishful Drinking, being a favorite of mine, but perhaps because it was so funny, but also so true. It was raw with emotion and truth.
Something that I (hope I) create with my own books–a raw, believable world that’s both funny, and sometimes sad, and true. And yes, fiction can be true, when it comes from a truthful place.
Carrie was a master at creating truthful books, whether she wrote fiction based on her life, or biographical stories about her extraordinary life.
If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true, and that is unacceptable — Carrie Fisher, 2011
I just bought The Princess Diarist, and I cannot wait to read those diaries from the filming of the original Star Wars movies. I don’t know when I’ll read it, because I’m not sure I’m ready to yet, but I will.
It’s like I’ve lost a friend, a companion on the road, that has led me so far–proving that bipolar isn’t a death sentence, and that I’m stronger than I thought I was. If she could do it, then I needed to get off my ass and do it too.
She was an inspiration, in so many ways. I pray for her family now, and I know they can make it through this ordeal. She is there with them in spirit, as well as the millions of fans, who will also be there. We loved her too.
Maybe we can have coffee someday on another plane… talk about writing, being bipolar, and those awesome hairstyles.