Written before the death of Debbie Reynolds at 84 years old, a Hollywood legend and mother to Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was known for Singin’ in the Rain, The Debbie Reynolds Show, and Halloweentown. Reynolds was the president of the Thalians, which was dedicated to mental health causes, and received the Academy Awards Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2016.
Carrie Fisher, 60, died on the 27 of December 2016, drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. Her words, not mine.
Fisher wrote that obituary for herself in her 2008 memoir, Wishful Drinking. The book was adapted from her one-woman stage show, and featured a story from her days shooting Star Wars. George Lucas went up to her and told her that she shouldn’t be wearing a bra.
“Okay, I’ll bite. Why?”
Because, he explained, apparently your body—due to the weightlessness of space—expands while your clothing—or more particularly your bra—do not, thus strangling you.
“Now I think that this would make a fantastic obit—so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra,” Fisher wrote.
Fisher spoke publicly about her bipolar disorder and her addiction to cocaine and prescription medication. In 2001, she discussed her drug addiction as self-medication with Psychology Today, particularly the use of drugs like Percodan to curtail the manic aspect of her bipolar disorder. In 2006, she was a part of the BBC documentary Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. She published her memoir in 2008 and discussed her experiences with electroconvulsive therapy on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
In 2016, Harvard College awarded her its Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism for “her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism,” which have “advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy.”
It’s important that Fisher got her last wishes concerning her obituary. It’s important that she’s remembered how she wanted to be. It’s important that she was in control of her story.
So often people with mental illness deal with events outside of their control, inside their heads. We struggle to get to a base level that other people operate from effortlessly. We work so much harder, every day, to get the same things. And sometimes we fall fucking short. We don’t succeed in the way we wanted to.
Carrie Fisher succeeded in the life she wanted. She was an actress, a woman, a parent, a writer, and an advocate. She brought so much light and laughter to a topic that sometimes, sadly, has so little of either. She showed that you can be funny and sharp and there, even if you are struggling with mental illness.
She proved that you can be more than. She was more than Princess Leia. She was more than an actress. She was more than her illness. She was more than her addiction. People will try to label you; to shove you into boxes; to dissect you, understand you, curtail you. But Carrie Fisher showed that you could exist beyond the expectations of people and society. And you can fucking rock it.
She lived a life of advocacy, of humor, of strength, and she died, drowned in moonlight and strangled by her own bra.
I want to extend my sympathies to Fisher’s daughter Billie, and her brother Todd, and her half-siblings, Joely and Tricia.