Reading Hannah Jane Parkinson’s heartfelt tribute to Carrie Fisher in the Guardian meant I finally get celebrity advocacy of mental health. Sometimes I’ve felt celebrities have used mental health issues to excuse any kind of behaviour, whether they really have a diagnosable illness or not (I’m sure many do), while the rest of us have to do our time in the real world of unforgiving judgement.
Hannah portrayed a very different picture. A woman who’s life was constantly on display, and who determined her own record, not only for her benefit but for the benefit of others with bipolar. A woman who is lauded as an icon in a gold bikini – but is so much more: an actor “for a long list of performances… the writer of …books.. prolific script consultant…mental health advocate..dog lover… eccentric tweeter, mother, storyteller.” (Parkinson, 2016)
Carrie gave words of inspiration and encouragement to others who experience bipolar. The outpouring of love and thanks from people in the mental health community is a testimony of that.
The world needs those who are courageous enough to put their life up as an example, as imperfect as any person’s life is. By seeing celebrities as flawed and as human as ourselves, it can give us hope for a better, more regulated life too, or at least one where we can live with dignity, respect and love.