With the latest Star Wars release a few months back, I went down a black hole of interviews on YouTube and was reminded of how hilarious Carrie Fisher is. I knew she had written an autobiography, so I thought this would be the perfect time to check it out. It turns out she actually has three autobiographies and a number of novels, and after reading this I think I’ll eventually make my way through them all.
This first autobiography is based on her one-woman stage show, and it’s basically an overview of why she is so messed up, starting right from the beginning with being born the child of two celebrities, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.
I am truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.
Carrie Fisher has dealt with fairly severe bipolar disorder her entire life. Before she was diagnosed, as happens with many who suffer the same, her use of drugs and alcohol got out of hand and she found herself essentially self-medicating without knowing it – uppers for when you’re down, and downers for when you’re manic. It got bad enough that she underwent electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) a few years before writing this, and I read somewhere that she has continued to use it to treat her depression since, which she goes into more detail about in later books.
ECT has come a long way from how it’s portrayed in the movies, even current movies, where someone is strapped to a table as punishment and the lights dim and flicker in the room as the patient’s body convulses. It is now done while the patient is medicated, they feel no pain, and it can apparently have incredible results in some people.
One side effect it can have is memory loss, which Fisher experienced, and she writes this from the perspective of regaining her memory after receiving ECT and seeing her crazy life from the outside – a fictional, drug-addicted princess with parent issues who not long ago awoke to find a dead gay Republican next to her in bed.
Resentment is like drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die.
This is dark and hilarious, and Fisher’s narration of the audiobook really added to the experience. Her delivery was perfect. One of my favourite bits was her telling the story of how George Lucas explained to her his scientific reasoning of why she couldn’t wear a bra in space.
This is mainly stories from her childhood and her struggles with mental health, so you won’t get many Star Wars anecdotes in here. She’s actually been very outspoken about mental illness and the stigma around it for years now. It’s clearly something that’s affected her life and something she’s passionate about, and she tackles it with a lot of humour, which is always the best way to talk about potentially awkward topics.
I thought I would inaugurate a Bipolar Pride Day. You know, with floats and parades and stuff! On the floats we would get the depressives, and they wouldn’t even have to leave their beds – we’d just roll their beds out of their houses, and they could continue staring off miserably into space. And then for the manics, we’d have the manic marching band, with manics laughing and talking and shopping and fucking and making bad judgment calls.
Fisher is brutally honest on this. I don’t know how people can write so scathingly about their family and still be on speaking terms after, but she definitely doesn’t hold back anything here. At times it felt like she was trying a little too hard with her jokes, and presenting stuff as a little more scandalous than they came across, but it was never enough to take away from the experience.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. Her next is Shockaholic, which I’ll be keeping an eye out for at the book sale next week.