I wrote this on FB a little over three years ago. While the last Star Wars film featuring Carrie Fisher is out at the theaters, and going into 2020 and trying to focus on taking better care of my mental health, I’m reposting this here and discussing it and her books on my YouTube channel. Let’s have a healthy, beautiful year.
“Carrie Fisher died today on December 27, 2016. She died a Bipolar Sufferer and Survivor, due to a cardiac event. And that tears at my soul. I can actually hear it ripping apart and shredding.
When I was 15 years old, days away from turning 16 actually, my father died of a cardiac event.
I’ve talked with people in my family, and some believe he also suffered with Bipolar Disorder. (By the way it is a Disease, not a disorder. Ask someone who has it. They can tell you why.)
I don’t know if my dad had Bipolar Disorder, but I think he did. I believe I can remember him self-medicating, though he probably didn’t know why he was doing it. And I know he died from said “cardiac event.” He had survived two prior heart attacks which he called “spells,” and the third heart attack is the one that got him. He was playing baseball, and the doctor said he was dead before he hit the pitcher’s mound, as he fell.
I often wonder if he was internally tired and distressed, and just in need of peace. I have no other explanation for why he would not have gone to the hospital, or why he canceled the ambulances heading toward him for the first two heart attacks.
He was a guy who could make you laugh, and he was charming.
But looking back, even though I was 15 years old, I think I knew him well enough and recall enough to know that there was unhappiness and uneasiness there. And something that plagued him. I wonder if he didn’t want to feel peace, and was therefore overly passive.
The psychiatrists call that “passively suicidal.” I remember one time in one of the mental hospitals I’ve frequented that they would not stop labeling a patient as passively suicidal when she had taken eight Xanax in order to try to sleep. People, she was Tired. She told them she was tired. She told them she needed sleep. She needed respite. She needed peace for a couple hours. She absolutely was not passively suicidal. She just needed to sleep. We don’t always sleep all that much, those of us with Bipolar. That’s why I’m writing this at 2:50 in the morning. That’s why an hour ago, so very upset by Carrie Fisher’s passing and the questions and feelings that it brought up inside me, I had to get up and do a 20-minute hard work out to get some manic rage out of my system.
Miss Fisher’s death has infuriated me as much as saddened me. I believe her unchecked self-medicating drug use before a proper diagnosis, and then later prescription drug use for the Bipolar (because yes, they help us mentally and emotionally, but they take their toll, and with most, it is not even understood why or how they work) and her need for ECT treatments, led to a physically weakened heart that caused her eventual cardiac arrest. I’ve begun research online, and doctors are already floating this theory about the cause of her death. And in efforts to be transparent and maybe reach someone through all of this, I too self-medicated in high school for a time. Alcohol and Cocaine.
This I know for certain, whether it was the direct or indirect cause of her death, I can tell you that her heart was both physically and emotionally scarred. I can tell you that her heart was both physically and emotionally affected and altered forever. I can tell you that she had to take one day at a time for not only her sobriety, but also to survive Bipolar. We often have to take it daily, and sometimes even on the hour every hour in order to survive. I am not talking about being happy or finding joy in the day. Of course, that is the goal. I am talking about days of just surviving.
So usually, I make more sense when I write. I have a better flow and fluidity to what I am saying. There are several thoughts coming from every direction in this writing because that’s what mania feels like. And I’m in that kind of a stage.
Because she was not only Princess Leia. She was so much more of an advocate for those of us that die a little bit each day because of this horrendous thing we have. Followed later by weeks or months, sometimes years, of stability and the ability to enjoy life. And then boom, we’re back down. The boom is pretty ugly.
Mostly I just want to know why my dad had to die of a “cardiac event” when my sister was 4 years old, loved, and cannot remember him. And I want to know if he had Bipolar and was hurting, struggling inside, in secret.
Silence is a difficult thing. I have family and friends who know of my disorder and occasionally read things like this that I share, and they have never even asked questions about what this thing is, or what I feel… what makes it worse, and what makes it better. There’s just so much Damn Silence. And assumption. And Judgement.
I want Carrie Fisher to have never known ECT treatments and what that does to a body, what it takes from you. I want her to never have had the need and experience in order to be a fantastic and appreciated Mental Health Advocate.
I wish she was just Princess Leia.
At least I know that like Leia, she fought, and fell, and gained ground, and always moved forward with Hope.
Bipolar is a struggle for me every day. And every day, I have to start again, build and construct a foundation for that day to find some joy, or at least survival.
Carrie Fisher taught me that every day, there can indeed be A New Hope.”
(Image Credit: amazon)