Dear Carrie Fisher

Dear Carrie,

I’d like to think you are somewhere out there watching all of us post tributes, videos, and tell stories about how much you meant to us. You’re probably touched, moved, and–let’s be honest–laughing up a storm.

I’ve never met you. I can’t say that I know you.

But I kind of feel like I do. I’ve been reading your biographies and while I’m well aware that reading someone write about his or herself does not make one an expert about that person’s life, you’ve provided a window–however small–into your life. Your candor is refreshing; your stories are heartbreaking and hilarious. You’ve managed to capture that weird, sweet, beautiful thing we call life somehow sounding elegant and brash all at the same time.

I’m currently read The Princess Diarist. I don’t know where exactly you were in your life when you wrote your entries. I do know that you’ve captured the convoluted mind of someone dealing with a mental health disorder. It’s beautiful and disturbing and haunting and perfect.

Like I said, I never met you but your passing has left this odd emptiness in my heart. I was upset when I first heard of your death but like so many things with life you figure out how to box it up and move forward.

It wasn’t until more recently while watching your friends talk about you at the Star Wars Celebration in Orlando and staring at a piece of fan art I have as my wallpaper on my tablet that I realized what exactly I was missing.

There was no one like you and there will never be anyone else like you. No one can sit on couches at chat shows with Gary at their side and make us feel like you’re sitting in our living rooms. No one can make us laugh and cry all in the same moment the way you did.

No one else will ever be our Princess.

With Much Luv,

Jana

Letter to an Editor

I wrote this response to an article I read in one of the local newspapers here back in May. The links to the original article and my response are at the bottom of the page.

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I refer to the letter “Collective effort to curb youth depression” (May 2), where the writer said: “We should start being happy and encourage others to be happy.”

I am bipolar and I say this from experience: When you’re dealing with anxiety and depression, you cannot just “start being happy”. Depression and similar mental health disorders are fundamentally a chemical imbalance in the brain.

“Choosing” to be happy is a preposterous idea when the chemicals in an individual’s brain are not properly balanced. It is like asking a person with asthma to just stop having asthma attacks.

One of the things I have learnt to master is disguising my pain. I smile. I say “Good morning”, I say “I’m good” when people ask me how I am doing. And I can deceive those closest to me without their having a clue.

In order to truly understand and help those around us with mental health disorders, we must be willing to inform ourselves about mental health and be unafraid to ask questions when we see someone in pain or suffering.

It is casual attitudes and fears of breaching another person’s privacy that can create situations where an individual feels the need to take his or her life. With no outlet to discuss our desperate situation, we feel trapped and helpless and see suicide as the only way to end our pain.

It is society’s responsibility to educate themselves now — not after they have heard about someone who has committed suicide or find out that someone they know suffers from a mental health disorder.

If we wait for a time when we feel comfortable or the topic becomes salient to us, it will already be too late.

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http://www.todayonline.com/voices/collective-effort-curb-youth-depression

http://www.todayonline.com/voices/how-society-can-help-those-mental-health-disorders