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carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Tuesday was a somber day and Wednesday was even worse, the world lost two amazing, strong women who happen to be mother and daughter, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. It has me doing a lot of thinking about my relationship with my own daughters. It has me assessing just how much I truly love them. Sometimes we take it for granted because they are always there, under our feet, popping into the loo while we’re trying to take a wee or telling us the same story 7 million times but every moment, they add up to our lives and memories and without them what would be?

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

I’ve seen all the photos circulating of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher from throughout the years and through it all, it seems like they had each other, in the way only a mother and daughter can.

There are mothers and daughters who are completely different and drift apart but there are others who grow together and even through the hard times become inseparable. This is what I’ve always wanted my relationship with my daughters to be. This is what I work towards.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

You want to be their mother first and you love them always but someday, secretly, you hope they’ll consider you their very best friend above all else because in the end when they are adults and you are equals, that is what we really want…the humans we love the most to like us; to choose us.

That seems to be the relationship Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher had in the end. You can see the mutual adoration and love in those old black and white photos.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

When I think of one of my children dying before me, I’d like to believe that I would die on the spot. Unfortunately, I know that’s not necessarily true. The thing is, I had a very small taste of what it might feel like when I lost my third child in pregnancy. Truly, the only thing that kept me going was my living children because they were small and they needed me but even then, I spent a good month in bed wanting to not exist, willing myself not to die. The pain was so immeasurable; I have never quite recovered.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

It still hurts daily knowing that I am here and he is not. Some things just change you forever. It’s not natural for a parent to outlive their child and there is a special kind of pain and guilt that accompanies surviving your child. But you go on because they cannot. But if my other children were grown and didn’t need me so much, if I was given the choice, I can’t say that I wouldn’t gladly follow my deceased child. I’d follow them because quite frankly, life would be just too fucking painful to survive again. I’ve had my one stay of execution and I hope I never need another one. It takes a lot of strength to survive that kind of loss.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

So when I heard the tragic news about Debbie Reynolds having a stroke and dying the day after her baby girl (because they are always our babies, right?) I was sad but not shocked. In fact, I almost expected it because stress, sadness and shock can physically destroy you. She lived a fantastically full life and I think she just gave in to her grief.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Believe me, sometimes it just feels better to give in than to fight. We fight when we have something better to live for but losing a child, it takes better out of the equation. I’m not saying she willfully dropped dead and that she loved her son any less than Carrie, I just think she wasn’t in perfect health and she was devastated by the loss and maybe she did just want some relief from the pain and she didn’t have the will or want to fight.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Anyways, as sad as I am that two strong-willed, strong-minded, outspoken women who lived out loud and on their terms are gone from this world, I am happy that they are together because that’s what I choose to believe. This life is not “it”. This is part of “it” and now they get to be together for the rest of whatever “it” is because when you live your life loving someone so much that you don’t know where you end and they begin, even a day is too long to be apart from them.

Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, parenting, RIP, mother and daughter

Hug your children, folks, because nothing in life is guaranteed and every moment is a chance to love.

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carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia

Today, in some bizarre twist of fate, the moment Rogue One began to play on the screen, my Apple watch flashed the breaking news, Star Wars icon, Carrie Fisher, dead at 60. Her big, beautiful heart just stopped beating. Just like that, she was gone and all the air was sucked out of my lungs. It was a cosmic punch to the gut. I sat there in shock in the dark theater as the words, in a galaxy far, far away flashed on the screen. It was surreal and the most ironic thing I’ve ever experienced.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

I spent the duration of the movie watching from behind tear-filled eyes, stifling inappropriate sobs. I wasn’t crying over the loss of Princess Leia, that was just a character that she played in a movie. I was devastated by someone that I felt a kindred spirit in so many ways.

Carrie Fisher was a hero to me for her outspoken, feisty, live out loud female empowered way that she lived her life but she was particularly my hero because she was a survivor. We survivors, we recognize scrappy in one another and we admire it. I admired her.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

She survived addiction and Bipolar, and believe me, if you’ve not had to survive either of these you have no idea just how strong this woman was. She faced it head on and said, “Fuck you! I’m not going down without a fight! Bring it on, bitches!” (That’s NOT  a direct quote but a sentiment sort of an inner warrior princess battle cry.)

When we are children and young adults, we naturally gravitate towards heroes to emulate that we recognize glimpses of ourselves in. I saw myself in Carrie Fisher. I loved the way she just told it like it was. There was no time for bullshit. Life is too short, especially when your mind takes you on a perpetual roller coaster ride.

She came out publicly about her struggles with addiction and her bipolar diagnosis in the mid-90’s. She inspired others to do so too. Soon after, I was diagnosed bipolar 1. When you are suffering undiagnosed and self-medicating just to try to feel “normal” it’s like you’re not even really living; you’re getting by. You feel broken and to find out that there is a name for it, to find out that you are merely bent and not broken, is sweet relief. I could identify on so many levels with her on this. We shared that experience and its sort of like sharing cancer or war together. It etches that person on your heart in a way most others can never be.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

After I was diagnosed, I made it my mission to learn everything I could about the disease. Not only did I see my psychiatrist and psychologist weekly and religiously, I read every book I could get my hands on, including the DSM. I gave books to my family and friends so that they could educate themselves and understand why I was the way I was. I learned all of my comorbid diagnosis and how to cope with them; some with medication and all through behavioral therapy. I learned what made me tick. I embraced the madness. I even took it a step further and took a few graduate clinical psychology courses just to wrap my brain around it as much as possible. I learned how to diagnose not because I wanted to diagnose anyone but because I wanted to recognize, educate and help anyone else who was feeling broken.

Every time Carrie Fisher spoke up about mental illness and advocated for mental health, she made it easier for the rest of us. She also inspired us to be honest to tell our mental health truths. Having a mental illness diagnosis is not like having a physical illness diagnosis. When you have a mental illness, somehow the world sees you as defective by your own choice; as if you did something to deserve it or it was some punishment for being weak-minded but no one would ever say that about someone with diabetes or cancer. Carrie fought those stigmas at every chance because once you can separate yourself from the disease and see with that intuitive clarity, you just want to help anyone you can.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

Carrie Fisher’s bravery inspired me to share my own stories; my diagnoses. I told the world things I hadn’t even said out loud to most of my friends because I was ashamed they would somehow think less of me or make every fault about the diagnosis. I was terrified to tell you my deepest, darkest most stigmatized secrets but I wrote them out and became an advocate because by being open it destigmatizes it just a little bit for the next generation; the next group of sufferers. That’s who Carrie Fisher was to me. I saw myself in her and I will miss her. She gave me hope.

In the last 5 seconds of Rogue One, just when I thought I couldn’t possibly hold it together for one more second, there on the screen was Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) turning around to face the audience, beaming in the way only Carrie could, and she said, “We have hope.” It was one last serendipitous pep talk from a woman who has inspired me to be strong and brave when I was at my most vulnerable. Rest in peace, my fellow warrior.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

 

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