The world recognized her as the beuatiful and courageous Princess Leia, who along with Han Solo, Chewy, C3PO, R2D2 and the rest stood up to Darth Vader’s Evil Empire and….well you know the rest of that story.
But off-screen, Carrie Fisher dealt with depression and Bi-Polar Disorder for much of her life. Carrie channeled her energy and talent to bring mental health issues into global focus, using her own life as an example. She put her own face on the struggle and worked tirelessly to erase the stigma attached to mental illness.
Carrie did so by using her incredible sense of humor, (albeit a bit dark at times) as witnessed by her acceptance speech for an honor she received from the Erasing Stigma Leadership Awards:
“So having waited my entire life to get an award for something, anything (okay fine, not acting, but what about a tiny little award for writing? Nope!), I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. I’m apparently very good at it and am honored for it regularly. Probably one of the reasons I’m such a shoo-in is that there’s no swimsuit portion of the competition. Hey, look, it’s better than being bad at being mentally ill, right? How tragic would it be to be runner-up for Bipolar Woman of the Year?”
Her sense of humor and drive to not merely survive but thrive helped Carrie Fisher become an influential advocate for mental health awarerness and serve as a beacon of hope to millions of people worldwide dealing with their own diagnoses.
And it made her an even greater hero than her beloved bun-braided character from long ago in a galaxy far, far away.
To quote a certain Jedi master: “The force was strong in this one”.