A Letter for Carrie Fisher

Dear Carrie,

I very nearly didn’t write this. After all, aren’t open letters a pointless, self-indulgent staple of tragedy hipsters? Then again, who am I to judge? There’s an incessant stream of self-consciousness between my ears. (That pun was for you).

We never knew each other, Carrie. We didn’t even come close. You were a Hollywood star long before I was a lecherous smooch. I would never claim we had some special unspoken connection nor that we were kindred spirits – I have none of your comedic Midas touch and you have none of my… Look, I’m just going to put [insert talent here], self-esteem isn’t a strength of mine.

Getting back to the point: you were an inspiration to anyone who experienced mental health issues, addiction, sexism, or, well, life.

You weren’t the greatest actress in the world, Carrie. But you didn’t need to be. That wasn’t what made you special. You were so endearing because you shone a witty, vulnerable and earnest light on your not-so-private struggles. You did this in interviews, documentaries and perhaps best of all, your books.

Your writing, Carrie… It’s something else. Really. You absorbed every word Sylvia Plath authored and asked, “How do I make that funny?” With hysterical consequences, you deftly deployed self-awareness and self-deprecation in The Best Awful – depicting that tangled web of relationships, illness and medication in a way I haven’t encountered anywhere else.

There’s nothing funny about feeling depressed or suicidal. But if you’re fortunate enough to step back from your past illness and experiences, you find an undeniably absurd tapestry. It wasn't very long ago that I proudly threw myself into lifelong celibacy – I even declared a kind of social self-exile. Because as the saying goes: when life gives you lemons, throw yourself in solitary confinement...

My Grandmother used to say to me, “You’ve got to laugh if you don’t cry.” It took reading your work to understand what she meant. The key to life is laughing in the face of adversity – simple in theory, punishing in practice.

Life is unfair, gruelling, an uphill struggle without mental illness. We can’t do anything about that. But we can refuse to be the victims of our stories. Your life, your work, your many insights are proof that if we can’t be the heroes of our tales, we can still be the jesters.

Thank you, Carrie. You gave us a powerful weapon in our fight against the dark side.


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