I could probably write a few thousand words about Carrie Fisher and my childhood. I won’t because it would entail loads of nerdy, Star Wars banter and that’d get boring rather quickly.

Many of my earliest memories as a  child revolve around Star Wars. In particular, I remember playing Star Wars in my garage with the neighbor girl that lived across the street. I’d wrap my scrawny arms around her and grab the rope that hung from the rafters, she’d wish me good luck and kiss me on the cheek and then we’d swing across the garage to safety while just barely dodging the ill-aimed shots of imagined stormtroopers. As a kid I wanted to be Luke Skywalker but as an adult I realized that Leia is the real hero of Star Wars. While others fail and leave the cause she stayed true and kept up the fight. Carrie Fisher the person in many ways epitomized some of the most essential  attributes of Princess Leia.

The Star Wars mythos was fairly important in my childhood and even now remains a relevant touchstone to a part of my life when I wasn’t struggling with PTSD and depression on a day-to-day basis. For that I can be doubly thankful to Carrie Fisher.  Far more than just her instrumental role in Star Wars was the way that she has confronted her own mental health issues boldy and unflinchingly.  I can’t imagine what it was like to be in the public eye and deal with mental illness as deftly and intelligently, but she did it with a fierceness that was as refreshing to many of us as it was off-putting to those who think mental health issues shouldn’t been seen or heard. However, it forced people to talk about these issues and helped to reduce stigmatization.

She wasn’t afraid to deal with the often messy issues in public taking an extra burden onto herself and off of others. She showed that you have to be tougher than the illness and fight through the darkness, the Dianogas, and the muck towards the light. Every. Single. Day. No matter how dark it might get and how that darkness may threaten to invade and overtake your life, you keep going. It’s tough, it’s hard, but it’s worth it.

I feel like a piece of my childhood died yesterday–someone put Mark Hamill in a bubble please–and while that’s sad it is part of life and the Force. The hero has to die so the next generation can grow and move on. So I’m ready to slide down that garbage chute and get started.

 Godspeed Princess!