Carrie Fisher’s Indiana Comic Con Explanation Of Bipolar Disorder Goes Viral Again
Most people will remember the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia. That’s a given. But for others, her outspoken honesty about living with a mental illness made her a real-life hero.
Since the death of the actress and writer on Tuesday, Fisher’s remarks at the 2015 Indiana Comic Con in Indianapolis on her bipolar disorder have started circulating heavily on social media once more. A gif set of her explanation of the disorder has been shared widely on both Twitter and Tumblr.
In answer to an audience member’s question about whether she would have wanted to be Princess Leia when she was younger, Fisher noted that yes, she would have, but since she was bipolar, “that’s not a valid answer. Anything I say, think about that.”
Fisher then laughed that another spectator was defining bipolar disorder to a child. She offered her own definition:
“It is a kind of virus of the brain that makes you go very fast or very sad,” Fisher said. “Or both. Those are fun days. So judgement isn’t, like, one of my big good things. But I have a good voice. I can write well. I’m not a good bicycle rider. So, just like anybody else, only louder and faster and sleeps more. That’s it.”
The National Institute of Mental Health’s slightly more buttoned-up definition says bipolar disorder is, “a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
Allison Carter is Facebook editor at IndyStar. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonLCarter.
Carrie Fisher Remembered By Family Friends: ‘our Great And Powerful Princess’
The causes of bipolar disorder a combination of genetic and environmental factors aren’t clearly understood. Research indicates that bipolar disorder is associated with an imbalance in the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. About 2.5 percent of Americans, or 6 million people are diagnosed with bipolar. It can run in familes Fisher said her father, singer Eddie Fisher, was manic depressive, too.
Related: Fisher: I wish I’d turned down ‘Star Wars’
While Fisher’s many friends and other stars throughout Hollywood mourned her passing, some expressed gratitude for her bravery in speaking out about mental illness.
We just lost a great ally for mental health and addiction. Be strong, be as strong as she’d want you to be. Rest in paradise @carrieffisher
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When someone like Carrie Fisher speaks about their experiences with a mental illness, it demystifies it, said Dr. Dean MacKinnon, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and author of Still Down: What to Do When Antidepressants Fail.
It can make it a lot less frightening to go to see a psychiatrist for the first time, MacKinnon added. Having it out there that its OK to have a mental illness and that its not your fault can make a difference.
Fisher’s closing words in the Guardian column were supportive and hopeful for anyone suffering from mental illness:
Did Carrie Fishers Bipolar Disorder Play A Role In Her Death
Actress and writer Carrie Fisher, best known for her role as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars films and her decades of mental health advocacy, died last week after suffering cardiac arrest on a flight. She was 60 years old. But a recent report in Scientific American asks: Could the bipolar disorder the star openly lived with have played a role in her death?
Also called manic depression, bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Throughout her career, Fisher spoke out about her experiences with BPD, with which she was diagnosed in her early 20s, as well as with drug and alcohol. The actresss honesty about her struggle with BPD helped counter the stigma associated with psychiatric disorders.
Since her death, some have conjectured that Fishers past struggles with substance abuse might have contributed to her death. But mental health experts have also speculated that bipolar disorder, which recent findings link to cardiovascular risks and mortality, might have been a factor as well.
There is also evidence of problems with the function and structure of blood vessels among people with bipolar disorder, and this occurs in the brain as well as the body, said Benjamin Goldstein, MD, PhD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of Toronto and author of the 2015 Circulation study.
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Im Not Alone When Times Are Tough
Many were inspired by her message. Charlotte Horton, a 20-year-old student at the University of Cincinnati, said she felt isolated as a teenager after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression. She didnt have any friends to talk to about her illness and felt as though she would never achieve anything in life.
Then she found online articles about Fisher and Demi Lovato, a singer and actress whos also spoken out about living with bipolar disorder.
Looking at people who had it gave me a sense of Im not alone when times are tough, Horton said. I can become successful. I can make my own story rather than just let my mental illness control my life.
Fisher was in a highly productive period of her life before she died. She just finished filming the Star Wars sequel The Last Jedi. HBO released a documentary about her relationship with her mother, Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. And she was touring to promote her latest bestseller, The Princess Diarist.
Fisher stopped breathing Dec. 23 on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Her assistant told authorities that Fisher slept most of the flight and had a few episodes of sleep apnea during the journey, which was usual, the coroners report said. Toward the end of the flight, Fisher could not be stirred awake, the report said. A few minutes later, she began vomiting profusely and slumped over, the report said.
Carrie Fisher Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder At 24
Carrie Fisher was a proud advocate for people with mental health disorders. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 24, but she told WebMD that it took her five years to accept the diagnosis.
In her first memoir, 2008’s Wishful Drinking, Fisher described bipolar as, “having a mood system that functions essentially like weather … It’s like I’m not properly insulated so all the bad and the good ways that you … feel that pours directly into my system unchecked.” She explained to WebMD that her bipolar usually manifested in mania, although depression became more common as she got older, especially agitated depression, which she described as: “I was going much faster than everything else around me … You feel out of step with the world.”
Fisher’s characteristic unflinching honesty and humor about her bipolar made her a champion for people who shared her diagnosis. In an advice column for the Guardian published in November 2016 less than a month before her death Fisher wrote to a reader asking for advice on coming to terms with mental illness. “We have been given a challenging illness … Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic … Move through those feelings and meet me on the other side. As your bipolar sister, I’ll be watching.”
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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 Its 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 its 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.
Well wrap-up with two insightful quotes by Carrie Fisher:
Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. Its 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 thats very important to me.*
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For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
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Carrie Fisher Had A 12
A lifelong celebrity, even Carrie Fisher’s meet-cute with her future husband reads like a who’s-who. Fisher was introduced to musician Paul Simon by actor Richard Dreyfuss in January 1978. She told the New Yorker that on one early date, they ended up dancing at famous New York nightclub Studio 54. She soon moved into his apartment near Central Park in New York, and they started an intense romance that lasted 12 years, although not consecutively.
Fisher wrote in Wishful Drinking, “Paul and I had the secret handshake of shared sensibility. We understood each other perfectly.” Despite their connection, the relationship had its ups, downs, and rows. Simon struggled to cope with Fisher’s alternating mania and depression, exacerbated by her drug use. they had split again, although Fisher told PEOPLE, “Maybe we’re not good roommates, but I love Paul.” Sure enough, they got back together shortly after and that September, they got married.
The marriage only lasted 11 months: they divorced in 1984. But after a year apart, they started dating again. What finally ended the relationship wasn’t the rows or Fisher’s erratic behavior. According to Simon biographer Peter Ames Carlin, while traveling in the Amazon, the couple took a powerful hallucinogen, and Fisher had a vision of being pinned down by Simon’s brain. They split for good in 1990.
Carrie Fisher Bipolar Disorder And The Spread Of False Information
As a child of the 80s, I had a childhood dream of growing up to be Princess Leia, and of course marrying Han Solo. What I did not dream of was fighting an empire that seems only to grow over time, and with no Harrison Ford by my side to make it all better. The death of Carrie Fisher is heartbreaking the news coverage of her life and suffering is a tragedy.
From Scientific American to Slate to the New York Times all reputable news sites that have the prestige of rigorous reporting and the air of truth-telling the stories all sound similar, conveying the message that: Bipolar Disorder killed her. Bipolar Disorder is a real disease caused by a virus and/or a chemical imbalance. Bipolar Disorder has nothing to do with ones life circumstances. Bipolar Disorder causes mood swings and brain damage. Some of these articles are written by psychiatrists and/or have support from prominent mental health professionals. Yet, all of these proclamations are 100% false. There is no truth to any of this and the illogic and dogmatic rhetoric infiltrating the public right now is doing everything that Carrie Fisher herself fought tirelessly against: increasing stigma for those who suffer emotionally.
Bipolar Disorder is not a Real Entity
Bipolar Disorder is Very Much Related to Trauma and Chronic Stress
Bipolar Disorder is not due to a Chemical Imbalance
Yet, here we are, now the year 2017, and this uninformed urban legend continues to be perpetuated.
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Carrie Fisher Had An Intense Relationship With Her Mother Debbie
After Eddie Fisher left the family to be with Elizabeth Taylor, Carrie and Todd lived with their mother Debbie was a devoted mother, but she worked a lot, which sometimes made Carrie Fisher feel neglected.
Fisher’s own sudden fame also tested the relationship. Both she and Reynolds were 19 when they starred in movies that propelled them to instant iconic fame: Reynolds in Singin’ in the Rain and Carrie in Star Wars. According to Vanity Fair, Fisher struggled with the idea that she had to share her mother with her fans, and Reynolds struggled to see her daughter’s fame overtake her own. Todd Fisher wrote in his memoir My Girls that Carrie thought that Reynolds was always trying to compete with her, but he felt that the competition was mutual.
According to TIME, Reynolds and Carrie didn’t speak during Carrie’s 20s, but by the end of both of their lives, they were extremely close and still arguing. In 2010, Reynolds told the New York Times, “Carrie and I have disagreements and stalemates, but we still walk away loving each other.” They even lived next door to each other.
Debbie Reynolds died the day after her daughter. Todd Fisher wrote in My Girls, “Debbie Reynolds willed herself right off this planet to personally see to it that Carrie would never be alone.”
Battling Bipolar Disorder Looking For Relief
In recovery, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was the second time in four years. The first time, she ignored it, feeling the diagnosis just gave her an excuse for her moral failings as a privileged child turned drug abuser. This time, she accepted it and got treatment for it and her addictions.
She went on to write about the rehab experience in her bestselling, semiautobiographical novel, Postcards From the Edge.
An estimated 6 million Americans have bipolar disorder. At least half of those have a lifetime alcohol use disorder and about one third have a lifetime drug use disorder, said Samuel A. Ball, the president and chief executive of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. Medications for pain, anxiety, and sleep can be often misused in an attempt to self-medicate the emotional pain, agitation, or sleep problems that accompany either the manic phase or the depressive phase of bipolar illness.
With treatment, Fisher took nearly two dozen pills a day, sometimes reluctantly for fear of stifling a bout of creativity that came with the mania. She also told interviewers that writing gave her a way to channel her hyperactive mind.
She became a prolific author and script doctor, and her comic, self-flagellating tales of excess seemed to be rooted in the past.
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Ask Carrie Fisher: I’m Bipolar How Do You Feel At Peace With Mental Illness
Living with mental illness is tough, Fisher says, and thats why its important to find a community to share experiences and find comfort in the similarities
As another person with bipolar disorder, I really admire the way that you have spoken candidly about your own mental health and made people like me feel less alone. I hope that over the next decades of my life from my 20s now to my 60s Ill be able to get to where you are.
Right now, though, its tough. Im doing the best that I can. I see my doctor regularly. Ive tried different medications. But trying to deal with my mental illness and meet all of my responsibilities at school, work and home feels like a terrible balancing act. Some days I juggle everything better than others, and sometimes I let everything drop. It feels like only a matter of time until the things that I drop shatter irreparably. Have you found a way to feel at peace when even your brain seesaws constantly? I cant see very far down the line from here and I hope that you can give me some insight.
Youre lucky to have been diagnosed as bipolar and accepted that diagnosis at such a young age. I was told that I was bipolar when I was 24 but was unable to accept that diagnosis until I was 28 when I overdosed and finally got sober. Only then was I able to see nothing else could explain away my behavior.
Want to ask Carrie Fisher for advice? Send your problem to email@example.com
Carrie Fisher’s Parents Had One Of Hollywood’s Most Infamous Divorces
Carrie Fisher was famous before she was even born. Her parents Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds were a super famous singer and super famous actress, respectively, who were christened “America’s sweethearts.” Carrie joked in her first of three autobiographies, Wishful Drinking, that when she was born, the doctors ignored her because they were too busy fawning over her parents.
But in 1958, when Carrie was two, the golden couple rocked America when Eddie left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor and Reynolds had been friends since they were teenagers in Hollywood, and Eddie was the best man at Taylor’s 1957 wedding to his friend Mike Todd. When Todd died in a plane crash, the grieving Taylor and Fisher started an affair. Soon, Eddie Fisher divorced Debbie Reynolds. He and Taylor married just over a year after Todd’s death, in May 1959, and divorced nearly five years later, according to ABC.
Carrie Fisher and her younger brother Todd named after Taylor’s husband before his death lived with Debbie Reynolds. They had a glamorous childhood among LA’s A-list, including Judy Garland, Jimmy Stewart, and Cary Grant, according to Todd Fisher’s autobiography. Carrie Fisher later wrote that they missed spending time with Reynolds, who loved being with her children but also worked a lot.
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