Rounding off a year of heartbreaking celebrity losses in 2016 that included Prince, George Michael, Davie Bowie, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Alan Thicke, actress Carrie Fisher died on Dec. 27 at age 60. The Hollywood legend, who was most well-known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars movies, struggled with bipolar disorder and throughout her life became an outspoken advocate for mental health. In June of 2016, she began penning an advice column for The Guardian, and in November it published her last installment where Fisher gave words of encouragement to a bipolar reader about managing her disorder.
The letter behind the column was titled "I'm bipolar — how do you feel at peace with mental illness?" The letter writer, named Alex, told Fisher the disorder "feels like a terrible balancing act." Fisher's response is insightful and heartbreaking. She wrote about attending AA after overdosing, when someone told her that she didn't have to enjoy the meetings, she had to get through them:
Fisher's one-woman stage show turned autobiographical book, Wishful Drinking detailed an honest look at her life growing up in the spotlight to famous parents Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, as well as her struggles with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. And it's Fisher's trademark sarcastic, biting wit that has entranced audiences and legions of young women who look up to her for her honesty and forthrightness about her battles.
Fisher ended the column offering solidarity and hope to the writer:
The world lost an incredible woman Tuesday, who has left a giant hole not only for Hollywood, but also for those who are battling mental health issues.