I have no words, but I will still make the effort to write something about this remarkable woman and creative mind.
Who is Carrie Fisher? I did not know her personally, but if you follow me on IG you know I do 2 things asides hair, I science and I Star Wars, from my science (neuroscience) point of view she is the prime example of SURVIVAL. Carrie Fisher played princess Leia and General Organa in the Star Wars franchise, but she was much more grand than that.
3 words defined Carrie for me: RESILIENCE, COURAGE & HOPE.
She had a disease called bipolar disorder, which justified her behaviors in her early carreer & she struggled & talked openly about it as an advocate for Mental health and kept working.
People complained about her looks bla bla bla but taking certain medications may affect the way people look & her looks were beside the point anyways.
She made a career later on, after the original trilogy not based on looks but on hard work, harder than most, and she proved that she could be successful despite and because of her disadvantages (gender, mental health,etc) She was great until the last day. I highly recommend watching her interview with Steven Fry (he also has bipolar disorder and made a film about it, I disagree with leaving illness untreated but it was a good film) and also watch the red carpet interviews of the london premiere of The Force Awakens she was THE BEST! She will be missed but never forgotten by so many of us for so many reasons. I will remember her for her Courage to be herself and be a positive role model to anyone with Mood Disorders, the correct term, that you can you should try to live.
A note on Mental Health
The only people qualified to treat Mood Disorders are Doctors.
Not all my patients, had mood disorders but as a Doctor with a Neuroscience background I can treat mood disorders & anxiety on a basic level. I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I collaborated with them my scope of treatment of Mood Disorders is limited to mild to moderate cases of depression, but what all Mood disorders have in common is the sense of guilt and illness shaming.
I know the biology of depression,due to my background as a scientific communicator and physician; it is an illness where you can see in the brain a down regulation of serotonin receptors and many more things just like you can see blood when you cut your finger but the skin can be seen with the Naked eye and the brain can not.
I worked with a team that assessed the safety profile of an antidepressant drug some time ago and as it was obvious that I needed to know everything brain, to be able to communicate more effectively that was what got me hooked on neuroscience and guided my future academic interests.
My point is that having depression or Bipolar disorder nowadays and talking about it is like saying you have the bubonic pest, but Carrie used her personal experience, influence and courage to talk about it for everyone who could be afraid to loose their family, livelihood or job for suffering from it. I once read on an interview that she hoped she could have romantic relationships, I will need to fact check this but it does sound like her alright and it made me feel a bit sad for her and reflect upon the need to do more to educate society about Mood Disorders in General.
“Depression bipolar or not is a biological illness, it is an illness of an organ that happens to control the rest of the body” I said that.
Most people decide to call mental illness crazy or laziness. Family and friends sometimes are the most unhelpful, because of their poor attempts to “help” (out of ignorance) they either treat them (the patients) like less or blame them for their illness… and at work? don’t get me started about work place abuse and stigma.
About Mood Disorders in the clinical practice: My experience as a Physician
In my country, as a physician you don’t have to disclose in paper always any diagnosis; but what many employers do (unlawfully) is that they ask their workers to tell them, so I always made sure to educate all my patients to disclose symptoms instead of a diagnosis such as changes in bodily function instead of saying they have depression or anxiety. I usually referred my patients after the initial diagnosis and follow up because I worked as a visiting physician only for a few months 2-3 and I could not do the long term follow up required for managing the brain biochemical imbalances that psychiatrists could, but I also know that more often than not those referrals were not followed up, by my patients because “if you visit a psichiatist you must be crazy right?” another stigma. One patient once told me that Neuroscience sounded better than psychiatry so he would not go see a crazy doctor and he might have been on to something there. The stigma in the society is a problem.
One Mentor gave me that advice (to protect mental health issues diagnosis from employers) when I was a med student, I enquired if it would not be deliberately lying about a diagnosis and she said “it is not lying, if it is the truth” and more often than not depression comes with visible physical symptoms such as gastrointestinal disorders. I only understood why the secrecy was important until years later while sitting in my office with a mother crying because she was afraid that if she took the meds her boss would find out and fire her.
A powerful Carrie Fisher Quote
“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. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). 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.
They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”
If you need help understanding mental health awareness, do not hesitate to contact me on my IG:Dr_vasquez_MD
May the Force be with you.
Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher