I had planned to produce the next post in my ongoing narrative about OCD by the close of 2016. Truth be told, I started writing it yesterday, then started re-writing it today. I’m a bit stuck. After growing anxious and disillusioned by this, I’ve decided that it’s ok. In therapy I’m taught to focus on what I have achieved – and I have achieved something by starting the narrative. The next part will come right, and I’ll post it soon enough.
However, I still wanted to post something by the end of the week. It’s traditional as we come to the end of the year to reflect and look forward. I hear and read a lot of people saying that 2016 has been a bad year; either personally, in terms of celebrated artists and entertainers passing away, divisive political votes, the triumph of those propelled by a rhetoric of hatred, refugee crises and a feeling that the peoples of the world are being driven apart.
I, personally, have had a shitty couple of years. The most difficult period of mental illness has, excuse my language, fucked me over no end. But I did start making progress in a difficult battle in 2016. For those of you that are friends of mine on Facebook, you would have seen a rather emotional post a couple of weeks ago, celebrating that I had made a significant step forward in my recovery. I genuinely was very emotional, realising just so strongly that I can win, that I will get better, and I am getting close. My therapist told me that I am right to celebrate that.
So it has been quite difficult to swallow having had a more difficult patch over the past week. Then something very sad happened, and despite it being very sad, I think it helps remind me not to think of this wobble as a backward step, and difficult as it is, to remember my strength and that I am getting closer to winning.
Last night the actress, author and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher died, aged 60, and I am deeply saddened.
Star Wars has been a massive, positive, part of my life; as indeed, it has been a massive, positive part of our culture for the past 40 years. Aged seven, Princess Leia was the first love of my life. But what I have to say here is more than a fan-boy lament for a beautiful princess.
Leia is far more than a beautiful princess. She endured wrongs, and loss, and pain, but stood stronger for them, never giving up hope, fighting for what was right and just with a fierce independence, influencing those around her to find their best selves and move forward. I believe in that character as a cultural and feminist icon, who influenced millions in a hugely positive way.
The power of the character worked, because those qualities and values were Carries Fishers, and this great actress was strong and funny and true. She was alll this in the grip of a bi-polar disorder that rather than bowing under and hiding from (which would be understandable), she stood up to and spoke honestly about. She did so with a honest frankness, and a fuck-you attitude: she accepted the fight she’d been given, did not back down from it or any other, whilst remaining herself, her funny, don’t give-a-shit self who did not care what anyone thought of her. This brilliant self was an amazing example to the millions who loved her; an example to be yourself and stand up for yourself, to speak out about the struggle and do not give up, just like the rebel princess she portrayed.
So I’m going to speak up honestly about how I feel this week – not good. And I’ve not produced the blog article I wanted. But I will endure, I will fight on. My recent emotional celebration was not in vain. If I stand up to it, and believe that I am nearly better, I will get there soon. Thankyou Carrie for the example you led by, and the inspiration to others to speak out about their mental health.
And thankyou Leia for showing what you do when confronted by darkness.
R.I.P. Carrie Fisher. May the Force be with you, always.