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Carrie Fisher Was More Than Your Favorite Princess

The actress and author spoke loudly and often for those suffering from mental illness

Carrie Fisher, beloved actress, author, and mother, died on Tuesday after suffering a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She was 60 years old.

Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, stating:

“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning. She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Though most famous for her work as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, Fisher’s other works also won her praise throughout the years, including her semiautobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge, which was later made into a film, and The Princess Diarist, her own retelling of her experiences on the set of Star Wars: A New Hope, which was named People magazine’s Best Book of Fall 2016.

Fisher’s accomplishments, however, extend far beyond her time in the Hollywood limelight. As she revealed in Postcards from the Edge, Fisher suffered from addiction and mental illness.

In a 2000 interview with Diane Sawyer Fisher shared,

“I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital. I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple—just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.”

Fisher further explained in an interview with People that she wasn’t sleeping, was “writing on everything. I was writing in books; I would have written on walls. I literally would bend over and be writing on the ground and (my assistant) would try to talk to me, and I would be unable to respond.”

It was her candor about her own mental health that connected so well with fans and followers around the globe. Following the news of her tragic passing, social media lit up with fans expressing their gratitude for her words helping them through difficult times.

Fisher used her position and her voice to speak for others, and it was this deed that also won her a Lifetime Achievement in Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Hub. Of Fisher the group said:

“Ms. Fisher's work humanizes a popular culture obsessed with celebrity, and helps readers laugh at the absurdity of contemporary society and relationships. Her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy.”

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