On Tuesday, Dec. 27, Star Wars legend, feminist icon, and mental illness and addiction advocate Carrie Fisher passed away after suffering a heart attack a few days prior. She was 60 years old. As we celebrate the actress's life, we really cannot overstate what a hero she was both on-screen and off-screen— especially when it came to mental health awareness. Esteemed comic Margaret Cho’s tweet about Fisher highlights this significant aspect of her legacy, expressing a sentiment that is as moving as it is important. “We just lost a great ally for mental health and addiction,” Cho tweeted on Tuesday. “Be strong, be as strong as she’d want you to be. Rest in paradise @carrieffisher.”
For decades, the film star spoke openly about her own struggles with bipolar disorder, depression, and substance abuse, helping shatter the stigma hovering over mental illness. In addition to addressing her own experiences in her memoir Wishful Drinking (and its stage adaptation and the subsequent documentary), Fisher worked to raise awareness regarding mental health issues and normalize treatment. On April 18, 2016, Harvard College presented Fisher with the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, citing her “forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy.”
It is often much easier said than done, but keep on staying strong.