From One Advocate To Another: Thank You, Carrie Fisher

By Kimberly Zapata

Usually, I’m relatively unfazed by celebrity deaths. Don’t get me wrong — I have empathy for the family of those affected. For the colleagues, loved ones, and friends left behind. I feel for their loss. But for the most part, my life is not impacted; my life remains unchanged.

The same cannot be said for Carrie Fisher’s passing. This one touched me deeply, in unexpected ways.

Because the truth is, Fisher was more than “just a celebrity,” or “another Hollywood actress.” More than just the star of one of my all-time favorite movies: Star Wars. She was a mother and a writer. A recovered addict, and a fighter. A mental health sufferer, and mental health survivor. And, like myself, Fisher was a mental health advocate.

She spent decades speaking out against the stigma and working to reshape our collective mental health care conversation. And while there are so many things I want to say right now — while there are so many things that need to be said — the only thing I can seem to muster is “thank you.”

Thank you, Ms. Fisher, for being such a powerful woman. A strong woman. A brave woman. And an inspirational woman, both onscreen and off. As “our princess” and as a person.

Thank you for sharing your stories with us, and your struggles with us — even in the face of backlash and criticism. Even in the face of adversity and endless scrutiny.

Thank you for using your position and your voice to not only make a difference, but to remind others struggling with a mental illness or addiction that they are not “bad” or “crazy,” they are not hopeless, and they are not alone.

And thank you, Ms. Fisher, for being one of the most outspoken mental health advocates of my generation. For being one of the most outspoken mental health advocates of my life.

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