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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

20 Questions for Carrie Fisher

The prolific performer talks about her experiences with bipolar disorder and addiction -- plus what it's like to reach a happier middle age.
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Is there still a stigma attached to mental illness and to seeking help for it? Have we as a society made strides in this arena?

Of course there's still stigma, especially when it comes to shock treatment [which Fisher experienced, and openly discusses in her memoir]. But it's getting better. I think there's more understanding now than there was, depending on what part of the country you're in, or what part of the world.

You're a mom to Billie, now 18. Do you embarrass her, does she embarrass you, or are you the rare mother-daughter team that stands united, never horrified by the other?

I embarrass her! I inspire a lot of eye-rolling. I have a manic personality. I don't act my age by any stretch. I'm not a master of the appropriate.

What parenting tips did you steal from your mother, and which ones did you kick to the curb?

My mother worked a lot. I swung in the other direction and was around probably too much. My mother, she loved us and demonstrated that. Whereas my father may have loved us, but he didn't demonstrate it. What I've learned over a lifetime is that love is an action … so I grew up feeling loved on one side and not on the other, which did not make me into the most confident of people … Billie has been shown love on both sides and it's an amazing difference. 

Is humor essential to good health? How often do you belly laugh?

Yes! I laugh a lot, actually. A lot. I've gotten to an age where I enjoy my life. I've spent enough time struggling with it, and at this point it's living on one side of the magnifying glass; I stay on the side of making big things appear small. I enjoy myself and I have a lot of good friends, good relationships. You learn to get there. Having gone through a lot of stuff I've gone through -- I don't want to do that stuff anymore. I take care of myself best as I can. I do the best imitation of maturity I can possibly muster.

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