The actress, who died Tuesday at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack, spoke out on mental illness many times ― something almost unheard of in Hollywood at the time she began sharing publicly.
She gave honest testimonies of the trials and triumphs of battling addiction and bipolar disorder, displaying a no-holds-barred attitude when it comes to discussing the realities of mental health conditions.
As we mourn her death, we also want to salute the original Princess Leia for her groundbreaking stance on mental health in the public eye. Below are few times Fisher stood up against stigma:
When she owned what was happening with her mental health.
”I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital … 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.”
The time she had this great response to being called the “poster child” of bipolar disorder.
“Well, I am hoping to get the centerfold in Psychology Today. … Now, it seems every show I watch there’s always someone bipolar in it! It’s going through the vernacular like ‘May the force be with you’ did. But I define it, rather than it defining me.”
When she offered sound advice on pursuing dreams despite mental illness.
”Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
The time she got real about how it feels to go through manic episodes.
“You can’t stop. It’s very painful. It’s raw. You know, it’s rough … your bones burn … when you’re not busy talking and trying to drown it out.”
When she explained the only real way to manage a mental health condition.
“The only lesson for me, or for anybody, is that you have to get help. It’s not a neat illness. It doesn’t go away.”
And finally, when she shut down the shamers by explaining just how strong you have to be to deal with a mental health condition.
”One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. … At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.”