Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How to be a Princess

I told myself I wasn't going to write about Carrie Fisher's death.

So I'm not.  I'm going to write a little bit about her life, and how it shaped me growing up.

I grew up watching Star Wars.  I knew that Leia was pretty.  I knew this in a factual way, like how you know the sky is blue or that water is wet.  I loved her because she was brave.  Because even after being intimidated by a power-tripping guy in a plastic bodysuit and tortured by the world's scariest torture droid, she never betrayed her cause.  She fought for freedom with everything she had.  Even though she grew up a Princess, and became a Galactic Senator, she cared about everyone.  The Hoth Rebel base crumbled around her, and she stayed.

And then she got older, and no less admirable.  She lost everything--her brother, her husband, her parents (both sets!), and her son.  But she kept fighting.  She believed in hope.  She believed in other people.  She had faith and she had love.

When I found out (became aware?  I don't know) that Carrie Fisher had bipolar disorder, it made me feel less alone.  My brother has bipolar, as many of you know.  I felt like it was this massive thing in our lives that no one else understood.  Until I realized that even though people have famous parents and play famous movie characters, they are victims of wonky brain chemistry just like the rest of us.

And even though BPD has a high suicide rate, she made it.  Her life was rough and hard and awful, but she survived it and she made us talk about mental illness.  She was brash and sassy and more than happy to call out the haters and the doubters and that particularly vile breed of human: the weight shamers.  Carrie told us that it's okay to be weird and imperfect.  She literally gave the middle finger to society demanding that she sit down and be quiet.  Carrie dared us to talk about our problems and to laugh about and to keep living, because the other options are grim indeed.

So live.  Fight.  Hope.

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