CS Independent: Fighting Our Own Dark Side

Posted 01/12/2017

Colorado Springs Independent
Laura Eurich

When Carrie Fisher died last month, sci-fi fans everywhere felt like they lost a family member. While most people immediately identify Fisher as Princess Leia, she was a hero to many for her openness about her battles with mental illness.

As I read tributes to Fisher, I saw just as many that recognized her candidness about being bipolar as those celebrating her role in Star Wars. Listmaker BuzzFeed.com even posted 13 things Fisher said about living with mental illness. Included in that list: “The only lesson for me, or anybody, is that you have to get help,” which she told People magazine in 2013.

When our idols speak candidly about their struggles, it makes it easier to get beyond the stigma of mental illness. Acknowledging mental illness is just the first step, and as Fisher said, you have to get help, which isn’t so easy.

I learned this firsthand about 18 months ago when I tried to help someone find a psychiatrist. After a family practitioner suggested Amanda (not her real name, because let’s be honest, there’s still some stigma) meet with a psychiatrist, we looked to the list of her insurance-approved providers in Colorado Springs. At that time, there were about 60. But one after another turned us away. I looked at the printed pages of names, the majority crossed off, and realized someone in the midst of a crisis might see this exercise as unbearable.

Since that time 18 months ago, things have sort of improved.

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