Tag: mental illness

End of a fucked up year

End of a fucked up year

My facebook feed is full of people saying things like, “This is the worst year ever!”

I’d planned to write a post that was a bit more uplifting. You know, talk about some of the good stuff that happened this year and maybe my hopes for next year.

Then Carrie Fisher died.

I know, I know. We’ve had a lot of celebrity deaths this year. And sad as I was about Prince, Alan Rickman, David Bowie and some others, I felt the sadness and moved on with my life. No more new music or movies from them. It’s sad, but that’s life.

But I cried for Carrie.

Yes, I’m a Star Wars geek. And of course, I imagined myself as the tough warrior Princess  growing up, blaster in her hand, riding the flying scooter and looking Darth Vader in the eye without fear, even though she was a tiny thing.

But that’s not why I cried for her.

She had a life beyond Star Wars. She had bipolar disorder and addiction issues. While it may seem like those were in her past, some things you never get over. As she says said:

At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

She discussed her mental health issues the same way she discussed anything, frankly, matter-of-factly, and with a large dash of sardonic humor.

While her writing style and genres were not in my normal repertoire, when I was trying to come to terms with being bipolar, I looked at some of her work: Postcards from the Edge and The Best Awful. I mostly found her characters kind of flat, 2-dimensional, and again, not my usual genre of reading. But they are obviously semi-autobiographical as the main character tries to come to terms with her addiction and mental health issues while maintaining a career in the public eye and raising a daughter.

There’s a couple of chapters in The Best Awful where the main character goes off her meds. She has what seems like a good reason for not taking them one day. But the next several days, she comes up with some other justifications. You’re in the character’s head, so you see what she’s thinking. You can tell that she’s acting a bit outrageous. She sort of knows she’s acting odd. Her friends/family ask her about her meds and she tells them that she’s taking them.

And the whole sequence reminds me of some times that I’ve gone off my meds. It made sense to me in a way that reading other books didn’t. I’d read Kay Jamison’s An Unquiet Mind, and her descriptions were sort of there, but not in the way Carrie’s were.

I have another New Year’s post running in my head, but wanted to write about Carrie. Then her mother died, upstaging her once again. Seemed. . . fitting, somehow.