“You have your moments, not many of them but you have them.”
My Princess is gone.
As a self-professed Star Wars junkie, I felt a disturbance in the force when I heard Carrie Fisher passed away. As someone who has mental health struggles, my heart was broken that such a fierce advocate for mental health was lost.
To honor her memory, I want to be open with my mental health diagnosis in the hope that maybe it will help you to understand what a loved one is going through, or to let you know you’re not alone.
“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that.
I survived that, I’m still surviving it, bring it on.”
I grew up in a household well familiar with depression in a time that mental health was not a common topic- both my mother and grandmother have dealt with it for years. So when I was diagnosed with chronic depression it was not surprising, what was surprising was the crippling anxiety that accompanied it, as well as the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve been on several medications good and bad over the years, I’ve also had periods of non-medication. Either way, mental health is always on my mind.
Let’s talk about depression.
There are two different main types of depression:
1: Situational: Everyone gets sad at some point, it’s totally normal. Losing someone, a tough semester, a rough time at work can all take you to a depressed state. Therapy can be very beneficial.
2: Chemical: This is depression you cannot help and is normally hereditary. There is a chemical imbalance in your brain that makes it impossible to “snap out” of a depressed stage. Medication is needed to rebalance the chemicals in the brain.
I deal with chemical depression- like Carrie Fisher dealt with chemical imbalances that led to bipolar disorder. It’s something that makes it impossible to get out of bed some days, something that makes me shut down to the world from time to time, something that has made me try giving everything up and end it all.
Having a hero like Carrie Fisher speak out about mental health showed me everyone has their demons. She showed me to embrace it and find therapies and medications that help, to not be ashamed but to speak out in order to help others.
“We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges.
Think of it as an opportunity to be heroic—not ‘I survived living in Mosul during an attack’ heroic, but an emotional survival.
An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder.”
3 Depression Fighters:
DO NOT be afraid to say you need help! Therapy is not for failures. Therapy is beneficial and can be short or long term. Sometimes you just need a confidential talk to sort through things, sometimes you need someone to give you better coping methods.
Taking medication is NOT giving up. It’s realizing the issue is something completely out of your control! Just like you would take medicine for high cholesterol or chronic migraines taking medicine for serotonin imbalances is totally normal.
NEVER underestimate what taking a moment for you outside in the sun will do. Go for walk, if that even sounds like too much just lay down in your front yard and be.
3 Things to NOT Say to Someone With Depression:
“JUST SNAP OUT OF IT.”
This is never ok to say to someone who is dealing with something internally.
“I was sad once.”
Everyone gets sad- being sad and unable to cope with life to the point of self-harm is different. No joke: I once had someone compare my sadness about losing my dad, to when they lost their dog. NOT COOL.
Saying anything to make them feel like they aren’t good enough.
Saying “you just need to be stronger” is not going to solve anything.
Instead of saying any of these, just let them you are THERE. Even if that means doing nothing and sitting together in total darkness!
So thank you, Carrie, for the deep thrills of leaps to light speed and being a princess that was more than dresses and castles.
Thank you for being unafraid to embrace who you were in your innermost soul and allowing so many others to do the same.