Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wisdom from Princess Leia

I have been questioned (mostly by my family) about why I feel the need to share my issues in a format so potentially public as a blog (it's not an unfair question - by sharing my stories, I'm opening up a wound for them, too).  There are people who aren't like me and who just can't understand putting something so personal out there like that.  I get that.  But that's not me.

I guess I'm just one of those people who feels much more comfortable in my own skin when I have fewer secrets out there.  I don't like hiding things.  If I'm hiding things from everyone else, I feel like I must be hiding things from myself as well.  And my purpose here in this life is to try and find my truth.  There are still a few things I won't write about in my blog - but I mostly do that to spare other people's feelings. 

Another reason is because I really love to know that I'm not the only one out there dealing with crap.  No one's life is perfect.  And there is no lonlier experience than feeling something and thinking you are the only one.  And if I don't like feeling alone in my experiences, other people mustn't, either.  And if I've learned something about the world - or about how I feel - then maybe by sharing it, other people will understand themselves better and not feel so alone in their experiences.

So I've been drawn lately to biographies - in particular those of women who have had emotional issues - who have had bipolar disorder (which I do not), or a nervous breakdown (which I have - twice).  I read  part of Rosemary Clooney's autobiography where she wrote about  a nervous breakdown she  had (culminating on stage!), I have ordered Rosanne Barr's new autobiography (she's had serious issues), I have Margaret Trudeau's book sitting on my floor at home, and I've been paying close attention when anyone famous is talking about their problems - probably so that I don't start feeling like I shouldn't be writing about my own stuff (one's family's influence can make one question oneself). 

Carrie Fisher's "Wishfull Drinking" made the cut to come on vacation.  When I ordered it from the library, I expected it to be much thicker.  It is a short book.  She does a one person stand up show by the same name, and I think this is just a printed version of the same material.  But so far I've found a couple of gems in the book (I keep a book just to write quotations in - I recommend this to anyone who either writes or thinks too much). 

For those of you who aren't familiar with Star Wars' Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher is the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (America's Sweethearts in the 1950s), she was an icon in the 70s and 80s when Star Wars was first on the scene, is a great writer (Postcards from the Edge was her first book) and she has serious bipolar disorder.  So bad, in fact, that she has turned to electroconvulsive therapy treatments for it - these wipe out her memory, but allow her to feel much better.  So here is what SHE says about being public about her illness:

"... I find that I frequently feel better about myself when I discover that we're not alone, but that there are, in fact, a number of other people who ail as we do - that there are actually a number of 'accomplished' individuals who find it necessary to seek treatment for some otherwise insurmountable inner unpleasantness"

... I wonder how many people suffer in silence because of shame ... because they feel so alone and embarrassed by their problems ...

She also passed along something - she heard someone say this once and it resonated with her - as it does with me:  "We're only as sick as our secrets". 

Thank you to whoever said that to Princess Leia and thank you to Carrie Fisher and all the other people out there who are willing to share their stories.  Because their stories make us all more human.

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