Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ode To The Bravery of Carrie Fisher (not necessarily Princess Leia)

Can 2016 get any worse?  There was a joke about hiding Betty White away.  So many entertainers have died, Prince and George Michael are gone.  I really didn't know David Bowie but I liked what he had to say as a person. But I really loved what Carrie Fisher had to say.   And now she is gone and she was only 60!  I'm forty-eight and that gives me pause.  What if I never say or do what I was meant to because I am too scared of what people will think.

The author, Anne Lamott said this...
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction—and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.

(It thrills me that repent means to change direction and she mentions that's it's not wagging a finger in someone's face.  It's a blessing not a judgment.  I've never had that wonderful connotation of that word and I've started to rewire the definition in my head.)

Back to Carrie Fisher.  I know I watched Star Wars long ago but that is not what stuck with me about her.  The movie Postcards from The Edge stuck so I read the book.  And then I read Surrender the Pink and Wishful Drinking.  I just added The Princess Diarist to my hold's list on Overdrive.   Yesterday, I watched the "Wishful Drinking" special again On Demand.  The diagram of her family was hilarious.

It must have been in the 2008 book, Wishful Drinking, what she said about living with bi-polar:   "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.  They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication."

That resonated with me so deeply and clinched me as a fan.  I suffered terribly with Postpartum depression and anxiety after my first child.  It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through.  I felt so very alone and there were so many days, weeks,  and sometimes just a moment felt like a struggle.  Making it through an hour was sometimes way too much to comprehend.   I was so alone and felt so hopeless with a helpless infant who needed me, just me.  It was the lowest of lows and the anxiety and the crying were endless.  (Mine and Riley's!)  It took me months to understand that I needed to take an anti-depressant to get back on track.  And it took at least a year to begin to feel like myself again.  The hiccup was that the first night I took an anti-depressant, it lit me up even higher with anxiety than I already was experiencing.   I didn't sleep a wink and I thought that they were going to have to lock me away because I couldn't sleep nor could I function anymore.  I can recall the terror of that period instantly and that night permanently and forever scarred me.  In hindsight, I  should have taken an anti-anxiety along with the anti-depressant until my body adjusted to the anti-depressant.   That bout with PPD changed my life and started me on the journey I am now on.

I can't imagine living with a daily struggle of bipolar that is so merciless that leads to electric-shock therapy.  But you have to do what you have to do.  One can overcome so many odds.

When I read that passage in Wishful Drinking, I thought, oh my gosh, yes!  Instead of looking down on people with mental illness, they really should be applauded because it can be an ongoing, daily, sometimes hourly struggle.  And Carrie Fisher said this out loud!!  Wow!  Bravo!  Through the pages of a book, it made me feel not so alone for what I had gone through.  Sometimes, a connection can be made by reading a book, and now it can be online.

I will miss her wit and her courage and seeing her dog, Gary. I will miss that she stood up for herself and body image for many of us when they shamed her for not looking like her 19 year old self in a bikini.  Carrie wrote about the despair of mental illness but also made it funny.  Princess Leia was a formidable opponent, but it is Carrie Fisher who was the bravest bad ass to me.   Someone who speaks up for those who have no voice.   RIP Carrie Fisher.  You are gone too soon.

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