In 1975 Carrie Fisher made it onto the big screen with Shampoo, in 1977 she immortalised the bun hair-do when Star Wars furiously blasted its way into movie history. She smoked pot between takes in Star Wars and was addicted to cocaine during The Empire Strikes Back. These days, Fisher is an accomplished writer and has acted in many popular films such as When Harry Met Sally, Austin Powers and the Blues Brothers. Carrie Fisher also has Chronic Type 2 Bipolar.
Bipolar and self-medication
Throughout her life Carrie Fisher has battled substance and alcohol abuse while trying to manage her mental health. Since her 20s she used illegal substances, prescription medication, alcohol and recreational drugs. At one point she was on 30 Percodan (pain killing medication) per day *.
Like many other people with bipolar, Fisher’s use of substances and alcohol may have been an attempt to self medicate and obtain a sense of peace and normality. Her hypomania phases were intense and they involved reckless spending, travelling and unusual behaviour. One account notes her spending $150 000 one Christmas on a $50 000 sable coat and a black BMW for her mum *.
Carrie Fisher acknowledges she craved the attention that her parents got as famous entertainers and felt her father’s absence strongly. Absenteeism in the parental relationship often has lasting and damaging consequences for the mental health of the offspring. Fisher also believes her father, famous singer Eddie Fisher, had undiagnosed bipolar who according to Carrie “bought 200 hundred suits in Hong Kong, was married six times and bankrupt four. It’s crazy.” *
Diagnosed at 24 but resisted the reality of the condition
When she was 24, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar but refused the diagnosis and did not want to go on Lithium to medicate her condition. She continued partying and abusing drugs with Hollywood hotshots. At the age of 28 she entered rehab, getting her stomach pumped. After treatment Fisher penned Postcards from the Edge and found that writing, helped her focus and concentrate, similar to Emma Thompson. She also threw herself into a 12-step treatment program.
She continued unmedicated and naturally veered toward manic phases without proper treatment. During these agitated phases she felt out of step with the world – like she was running too quickly and the world too slowly.
Acceptance in the 1990s
Since the late nineties Fisher has accepted the diagnosis and takes mood stabilising drugs to combat and manage the mood disorder. Appearing on Oprah she openly confessed to needing electro shock therapy to manage her severe condition. She admitted she needed to get it every six weeks to “blow the cement part in her brain”.
They put you to sleep, they give you a medication so there are no more convulsions or anything… It’s over very quickly and you go home and take a nap… I had it when I did get into depression that medication could not handle. *
Carrie Fisher fights hard to destigmatise mental health. She has become one of the best-known champions of bipolar.
Fisher shrewdly observed that people say mental health like it’s not part of the body *. She no longer fights the diagnoses but has accepted that she has bipolar and does her best to live a full life with the condition.
We’ll wrap-up with two insightful quotes by Carrie Fisher:
“Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life”.*
And finally, from USA Today:
There is treatment and a variety of medications that can alleviate your symptoms if you are manic depressive or depressive . You can lead a normal life, whatever that is. I have gotten to the point where I can live a normal life, where my daughter can rely on me for predictable behavior, and that’s very important to me.*
How Carrie Fisher Beats Bipolar
Carrie Fisher attended a 12-step program for substance and alcohol abuse. AA, Al-Anon and NA are powerful ways for people affected by the use of drugs or alcohol to put in practical steps towards physical and spiritual growth.
Carrie Fisher is a disciplined and devoted writer. She has written many award winning books and screenplays and her gift of the craft is undeniable. Writing has helped her with motivation and sense of clarity and purpose. She’s also incredibly funny and has great insight into the human condition.
Carrie Fisher promotes mental health awareness. She wrote screenplays about psychiatric hospitals and went on Oprah to speak of her experiences with electro-shock therapy.
Carrie Fisher never gives up, never gives in. She understands that this is a lifelong condition, works hard at recovery and doesn’t let setbacks ruin her.
Fisher uses humour well, with sharp insights and a clever wit. Some of the examples of this are the HBO show Wishful Drinking, her book turned movie Postcards from the Edge and the fact that when she returned from hospital she arranged to be delivered in an ambulance dressed as Princess Leia!
Thanks for reading this article, all information is covered by an important disclaimer. Please leave a comment if you’ve read this story for affirmation, feedback and discussion and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Or, if you would like to submit a story which can change and influence other lives please contact us so we can share your story.