Carrie Fisher’s death was confirmed Dec. 27 through her daughter’s publicist. The news immediately caused tears for many, many people.
Fisher, who was 60, had a heart attack on Christmas Eve while flying from London to California, according to media outlets.
Although her condition was declared to be stable on Christmas Day, it later declined.
Fisher’s recent career
Fisher was much more than just an actress who portrayed the last (maybe) princess of Alderaan in “Star Wars” and its three blockbuster sequels.
She spent much of the 1990s as a script doctor — a profession that is celebrated less than stunt double.
A script doctor comes in to fix problems with scripts, from fixing dialogue to completely rewriting sections of script. But these individuals never are mentioned in the credits.
Fisher’s first notable gig as a script doctor was for the movie “Hook.” This was followed by “The Wedding Singer,” “Sister Act” and “Lethal Weapon 3.”
But her life experience was far from a picturesque story.
Fisher was a drug addict in her 20s. This is not that unusual for people who live in the public limelight.
However, her addictions later were attributed to mental illness.
In a 2010 interview with Diane Sawyer, Fisher spoke very candidly about her struggle to find stability.
“I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple — just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully,” she said.
“And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.”
Manic depression is a chemical disorder that also is known as bipolar disorder. It is associated with unpredictable mood swings, from mania to depression.
Mania is a state in which one experiences excessive energy and irritability, a decreased need for sleep, and a reckless engagement in pleasurable or dangerous activities. Depression is a state in which the sufferer can experience a loss of energy, an inability to concentrate and an exaggerated need for sleep.
While there is no cure for manic depression, it can be managed with medication.
How Fisher coped
When she initially was diagnosed in her 20s, Fisher said she didn’t believe her doctors.
“I thought they told me I was manic depressive to make me feel better about being a drug addict,” she said in the Sawyer interview.
Fisher was hospitalized in 2008 because of her ongoing drug addiction.
“I had a psychotic break. I was in lockup for two weeks,” she said in the interview. “I continued as an outpatient for five months. And I belonged there. I wasn’t there by accident.”
But Fisher rallied and managed to bring her mental health under control through medication.
Her honesty about her mental health provided, in my opinion, a role model for women to follow.
“The only lesson for me, or for anybody, is that you have to get help. It’s not a neat illness. It doesn’t go away,” Fisher told People Magazine in 2013.
Fisher’s iconic role
Despite her issues, I adored Fisher as an actress.
She was Princess Leia, the first strong female role model I can remember encountering in my childhood.
For all intents and purposes, Leia led an all-male universe to fight the dark side of the Force.
She defended not only herself, but others as well, helping to run the Rebellion.
All the while, Leia refused to be the damsel in distress. In fact, she decided to rescue her Prince Charming from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt.
Fisher just reprised her famous role for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015.
She undoubtedly will be remembered by many as the princess, despite her many other personal achievements.
But Fisher had a sense of humor about her connection to the iconic film. In an interview with WebMD in 2010, she said this about “getting past Leia”:
“Have I gotten past it? I wasn’t aware that I had! I am Princess Leia, no matter what. If I were trying to get a good table, I wouldn’t say I wrote ‘Postcards (from the Edge,’ her best-selling first novel). Or, if I’m trying to get someone to take my check and I don’t have ID, I wouldn’t say: “Have you seen ‘When Harry Met Sally?’”