Carrie Fisher aka “Princess Leia” and Bipolar Disorder
Carrie Fisher, who is repeating her role as the tough Princess Leia in the new episode of the Star Wars The Force Awakens, has been talking out on mental illness for more than a decade. Such an approach to one’s own mental illness is almost unheard of in Hollywood.
Carrie Fisher has given straightforward testimonies for fighting addiction and her bipolar disorder, through displaying honest outlook when it comes to debating the truths about mental health disorders.
“I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital,” Carrie Fisher says Diane Sawyer on PrimeTime Thursday.
Carrie Fisher told Sawyer her bipolar disorder generates such a boom of energy in the brain that she is left with intense mood swings and hyperactive thoughts, and undergoes sleepless nights.
A Common Personality Disorder
“I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple — just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully, and I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.” asserts Fisher.
It seized her 20 years and a mental collapse to announce these facts openly. She describes her disorder as: “I have two moods, one is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs … Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out.”
Bipolar Disorder, is a kind of mood disorder that is characterized by irregular mood alterations, identified as manic and depressive episodes. In a manic stage, one may experience extreme energy and irritability, intensified mood, reduced need for sleep, inflated self-confidence and may engage in irresponsibly pleasurable or unsafe undertakings. In a depressive episode there is severe lows, loss of energy, incapacity to concentrate and persistent fatigue. While there is no ultimate cure, it can be coped with medication such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, anti-psychotics and especially psychotherapy.
Fisher argues: “The world of manic depression is a world of bad judgment calls, just every kind of bad judgement because it all seems like a good idea at the time. A great idea … So if it’s talking, if it’s shopping, the weirdest one for me is sex. That’s only happened twice. But then it is wow, who are you? 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.”
Genetics and Childhood Trauma
Genetic heritage is as important as a triggering childhood trauma for the victim of the bipolar disorder. Some victims of the disease may live happily throughout their life without any symptoms of the disorder if they didn’t come face a triggering event.
The daughter of movie star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher faced such a triggering event. When she was just a toddler, her father left his family and with Elizabeth Taylor. Her family was openly crushed. And the little girl who idolized his father left with her traumatic experience.
When she was 19, she starred with Harrison Ford in Star Wars. By the third Star Wars movie, she was consuming pills severely to sleep at night. When she was in her mid-20s, doctors said that she had a type of mania. “I thought they told me I was manic depressive to make me feel better about being a drug addict, it is what you think. If you could just control yourself” she says.
Today, with six diverse medications used daily, Fisher is recovering and has written a movie titled “These Old Broads,” about her family story. “I outlasted my problems, 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. Better me than you.” says Fisher.