Multi-talented star Carrie Fisher was, among many other things, an advice columnist for the Guardian. In her final column before her death on Tuesday, she offered heartfelt advice to a person living with bipolar disorder who asked the actress how she was able to live through the illness.
"Trying to deal with my mental illness and meet all of my responsibilities at school, work and home feels like a terrible balancing act," the advice-seeker, identified as Alex, wrote. "Sometimes, I let everything drop. It feels like only a matter of time until the things that I drop shatter irreparably."
Fisher responded by saying that, by dealing with a bipolar diagnosis at such a young age, Alex was already far ahead of the curve. Fisher also stressed that Alex needed to find some kind of community of other people living with mental illness. The actress spoke about her own experiences facing her alcoholism by going to meetings that she didn't like to attend. She eventually learned that she didn't have to like them, but she had to go.
"My comfort wasn't the most important thing — my getting through to the other side of difficult feelings was," Fisher wrote. "However long it might seem to take and however unfair it might seem, it was my job to do it."
Fisher said that both she and Alex were facing a "challenging illness," but there was "no other option than to meet those challenges" and to be an example to others who shared their diagnosis.
"That's why it's important to find a community — however small — of other bipolar people to share experiences and find comfort in the similarities," Fisher said. "You're ahead of the game. You're doing more than I did at your age, and that's courageous."
She closed the letter by saying: "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."
Fisher has been outspoken about her struggles with mental illness since the late 1990s. In a 1995 interview with Diane Sawyer, she spoke about her manic depression.
"I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital," Fisher said. "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."
People on Twitter took a moment to thank Fisher for her advocacy in combatting mental illness stigma.