Carrie Fisher has inspired thousands of mental health sufferers by opening up over her own struggles with illness.
The legendary Star Wars actress battled bipolar disorder and was very public about the impact it had on her life all the way up to her death.
By doing so, she has been heralded as a pioneer in the fight to eradicate the stigma attached to psychological disorders.
Fisher, 60, died yesterday in a Los Angeles hospital after she had a heart attack on a transatlantic flight on Friday.
Earlier this year Harvard College gave Fisher the Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Humanism as she is pictured delivering a speech to hundreds at Harvard’s Memorial Church Fisher (center), pictured with Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker (left) and Harrison Ford as Han Solo (right) is best remembered as the tough, feisty and powerful Princess Leia in the original Star Wars in 1977 and the following films in the series
Talking about being comfortable about living with mental health, she told Questita magazine: ‘I don’t feel particularly messed up. I’ve always been quite sane about being insane.’
‘You don’t have to like doing a lot of what you do, you just have to do it,’ she told The Guardian.
‘You can let it all fall down and feel defeated and hopeless and that you’re done. But you reached out to me – that took courage. Now build on that.
‘Move through those feelings and meet me on the other side. As your bipolar sister, I’ll be watching. Now get out there and show me and you what you can do.’
Carrie Fisher pictured exactly a month ago at a book signing for The Princess Diarist in Los Angeles, California
Her outspoken views on a subject which is often considered a taboo will leave a lasting legacy after she passed away yesterday.
Robbie Shenton, 49, from Brisbane in Australia is just one of a huge number of people the actress famed for playing the role of Princess Leia has helped.
He told MailOnline: ‘I never used to talk about my mental illness and just bottle it up, but seeing Carrie Fisher open up about her struggles and saying it was OK to be open and honest about your illness has made my life a little easier. I just hope more celebrities continue what she started.
‘I wasn’t too shocked.
‘Not as she much as when I heard she had a massive heart attack, but I am sad the world has lost a great person who deserved so many more years.
‘For me her death highlights still more has to be done. There is more concern for younger people with mental illness than older people.
‘Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or friends. There is help out there.’
Her approach has garnered praise from leading charities, including Mind.
Jo Loughran, Interim Director at Time to Change the mental health campaign run by charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, said: ‘Carrie Fisher was an iconic figure for millions of Star Wars fans, but she was also an inspiration for those of us who have experienced mental health problems and have ever felt isolated or ashamed because of the negative reactions of others.
‘By actively challenging the perception of bi-polar disorder through speaking so candidly about her experiences, she gave many the confidence to reach out for support.’
On Thanksgiving, Carrie Fisher posted a pictures of her with her beloved dog Gary Carrie Fisher was famed for playing the role of Princess Leia (right) alongside co-star Harrison Ford (left, left) in the Star Wars films
Fisher said in an interview about living with mental health: ‘At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.
‘They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.
‘Without medication I would not be able to function in this world.
‘Medication has made me a good mother, a good friend, a good daughter,’ she told the Hollywood Reporter.
Although she talked openly about her bipolar disorder, Carrie Fisher did not want to be tied down by it.
‘I don’t want to be caught ashamed of anything,’ she told BP Hope.
‘And because generally someone who has bipolar doesn’t just have bipolar, and they have bipolar and they have a life and a job and a kid and a hat and parents, so it’s not your overriding identity.
‘It’s just something that you have, but not the only thing – even if it’s quite a big thing.’
On mental illness generally, she told ABC: ‘I outlasted my problems. I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that.
‘I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.’
Her attitude towards dealing with her issues gained her countless more fans.
Jessica Lewenda wrote on Twitter: ‘Carrie Fisher means a lot to me. Her being open about her bipolar is so important to me. It’s let me accept myself and my illness.’
Another social media user, going by the name of Wishful Drinker – the title of Fisher’s 2008 memoirs – wrote: ‘You were the biggest inspiration a little bipolar girl could get, my words will always be blessed by yours. Thank you.’
Her words of wisdom has allowed people with mental health problems to follow their dreams.
It’s something Fisher has spoken about at length, and in an interview with Herald Tribune, she said: ‘Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action.
‘You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.’
Carrie Fisher and her dog Gary on The Jonathan Ross Show on 26 March, 2016 The legendary actress and mental health advocate with her dog Gary on the red carpet in April
Fisher never dodged the difficult questions either.
When asked what people shout do if things go wrong, she said: ‘The only lesson for me, or anybody, is that you have to get help.
‘It’s not a neat illness. It doesn’t go away,’ in an interview with People.
And discussing the depressive stage of bipolar, she told the Hollywood Reporter: ‘When you get in that mental state, it’s hard to talk. You are reaching out from such a far away place. What do you say?
‘You don’t want to be a burden and you don’t want to seem like you feel sorry for yourself – it’s humiliating among so many other things.
‘If you’re a maniac depressive and you’re functioning in this world and doing at all well, I think, wow,’ she said in a separate interview with NPR.
‘You should be proud of being able to say, "This is what I’m getting through right now".
Carrie Fisher (left) and co-star Mark Hamil in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
‘There is treatment and a variety of medications that can alleviate your symptoms if you are manic depressive or depressive.
‘You can lead a normal life, whatever that is,’ she told USA Today.
She may not have set out to be a mental health advocate, but that’s exactly what she became, and discussing that, she told The Guardian: ‘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", but an emotional survival.
‘An opportunity to be a good example to others who might share our disorder.’
And on making peace with yourself, she told Chron: ‘I’ve learned to celebrate my life, to embrace it.
‘If I have the problems, the problems don’t have me. They’re not something I’m ashamed of.’