Carrie Fisher was, and is, a huge inspiration to me. She taught me many things while I was struggling to come to terms with my illness and realizing what it meant for my life. She added a bit of humor to the seriousness of having bipolar disorder. She never sugarcoated it.
In my life I want to be at least half the person that she was. I learned that it’s okay to talk about it, that it’s not something you should be ashamed of. Society tells us that if you have bipolar disorder then you’re crazy, violent, just moody, and so on. We let their words shame us into silence but the ironic thing is, the only way to change what they say and how we’re viewed is if we do talk about it.
I took a speech class about two years ago, public speaking is probably one of the scariest things in the world. In this class we had to give an “informative speech.” So I did something that both shocked and terrified me, I made the speech about bipolar disorder. At one point I told them some of my story because it’s one thing to hear all the facts and it’s another to listen to someone who actually experienced it. To my surprise, there were very few dry eyes in that classroom by the time I was done.
Then I ended up doing my persuasive speech on mental health stigma. After this both my professor and our office for student’s with disabilities coordinator both suggested I tweak it a little bit and give the speech to more students at the school. About a year ago I did just that and now this semester I’m going to do it again but to more students than we did last time. Things that Carrie Fisher said have stuck with me through this, and I’ve even mentioned some of them in my speeches.
It’s not easy to live with bipolar disorder, to take medications multiple times a day, get bloodwork done every six months, and constantly pay attention to your moods and try to determine if you’re having a “normal mood” or a “bipolar mood.” It’s exhausting but despite all that there’s a lot of good that comes out of, making all of the upkeep worth it.
At the end of it all you need to proud of yourself if you’re living with this illness and functioning, like she said we deserve a damn medal for it. Speak up and talk about it like Carrie Fisher did, don’t sugarcoat it, help people understand what life is like for us. We’re survivors and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
Even in her death Carrie Fisher continues to make an impact within the mental health community.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t be afraid to speak up. ❤