When Carrie Fisher died, I was incredibly surprised. Yes, surprised in the way that it’s surprising when you find yourself surprisingly attached to a celebrity. But also, mainly, because I knew that Fisher was an addict. Some small, strange, little part of me had forgotten: addiction is a disease. There’s no antidote, no cure-all. No mantra, no set of beliefs that can prevent YOU from succumbing if YOU relinquish control, lower your defenses, and say, “Maybe. Just this once.”
I don’t know the extent to which Fisher had relapsed– is there even an extent? After all, a relapse is a relapse, and for so many, it is a death knell. (Why? Imagine if you’ve stopped drinking, drugging, whatever, for years. And then you pick it up, right where you left off. What happens to the human body?)
On some level, I hope she hadn’t been struggling for long. Wanting to be better, sneaking around, feeling ashamed– because someone who so openly speaks about addiction obviously wants to be better. It’s not, nor is it ever, for lack of wanting to be better.
I read Fisher’s cause of death today, and my stomach dropped. What happened? What HAPPENED? Nothing. Something? Everything. All at once.
I admire this woman for battling an insurmountable set of demons, and for honestly conveying these battles to the public. It should go without saying that her efforts as a mental health advocate were tremendous. It should go without saying that those efforts were not for naught. And yet, based on the highly judgmental reaction to her C.O.D., I’m starting to doubt a large portion of the media’s awareness of, and sensitivity, to drug addiction, alcoholism, mental health.
So here’s a little refresher, for those who want to feel empowered: “I heard someone say once that many of us only seem able to find heaven by backing away from hell. And while the place that I’ve arrived at in my life may not precisely be everyone’s idea of heavenly, I could swear sometimes– I hear angels sing.” Carrie Fisher