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Mental Health Advocates Remember Carrie Fisher For Her Stigma-Busting Ways

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Carrie Fisher is being remembered not only for her work on screen, but also off script.

A huge mental health advocate, the actress suffered from bipolar disorder and addiction. She died Tuesday after suffering a heart attack on an airplane last week.

WJZ’s Tracey Leong explains how Fisher used her personal struggles to make a difference.

In Baltimore, health disorders are a citywide issue, and experts applauded Fisher for being so outspoken and raising awareness.

Best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, a role that she just reprised for 2015’s sequel, Fisher had an impressive career in Hollywood as an actress, writer and producer. Later in life, she became known for her mental health advocacy, speaking about her struggles publicly, including in an interview with Charlie Rose in 2009.

“I would like to be a good role model,” Fisher said then. “And in some ways I’m a good role model of what not to do, which is pills, etc.”

Fisher went on to write about her struggles, as well, in her book “Postcards From The Edge,” which later became a movie. She also talked about her life in a one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, that came to The Hippodrome in 2012.

“These are people who are tremendously successful and that many look up to so they work to normalize mental health,” says Stacey Meadows, of Baltimore’s Jewish Community Services.

An honest approach to mental health, like Fisher’s, “gives the rest of us hope and de-stigmatizes… mental health so that more people are willing to come forward and get help,” Meadows says.

“I’m proud of myself that I’ve been able to get through this stuff, and I’ve been able to – I can’t overcome it, but I can use it. … I have problems, problems don’t have me,” Fisher told Rose in that 2009 interview.

Experts think about one in five adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

If you or someone you know needs substance or mental health support, get help at BHSBaltimore.org.

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