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Carrie Fisher - Writer and Actress

Bipolar Disorder with a Dose of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

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Updated October 05, 2009

Carrie Fisher, the child of two Hollywood stars (Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher) started out with a lot going for her - and something against her, too: manic depression, which her mother says is genetic. Fisher and Reynolds were divorced when Carrie was two (so he could marry Elizabeth Taylor). Carrie was onstage as part of her mother's night club act at 12, and in her young teens was diagnosed bipolar. At 19 she had her first movie role, in Shampoo. In 1977, she starred in Star Wars, her most memorable role as Princess Leia. A role that made her an iconic action figure with a hairstyle everyone made jokes about - a central theme in her 2009 Broadway show Wishful Drinking.

Sometime in the 1970s Carrie began cocaine use which eventually led to an addiction. According to the Internet Movie Database, she had a serious alcohol problem by 1980, and in 1985 suffered a drug overdose which resulted in her entering rehab. From this experience came her first best-seller, Postcards From the Edge, which was made into a film starring Meryl Streep in 1990. That year saw Carrie publish her second novel, Surrender in Pink, about her relationship with and brief marriage to Paul Simon.

In 1997 Carrie was again hospitalized, this time, according to her mother, to rebalance the medication she takes for bipolar disorder. Then in November of 1998 she checked herself into a drug treatment program. According to her publicist, "The combination of the prescribed medication required for manic depression and the pain medication prescribed to her recently from getting dental implants caused her to recognize the problem early on and act immediately."

One thing readers may not know is that Carrie Fisher has become one of the highest-paid "script doctors" in Hollywood. Her credits - or "uncredits," since this kind of work is generally unacknowledged - include Hook, Sister Act, Lethal Weapon 3, and Milk Money.

In 1999 Carrie's father, Eddie Fisher, published a tell-all autobiography entitled Been There, Done That. According to reviews, in this book Fisher documents a 30-year battle with drug addiction and dozens of affairs with Hollywood leading ladies. Carrie reacted to this book by telling the Toronto Sun, "I'm thinking of having my DNA fumigated." Could it have been that DNA which gave her the tendency to be manic-depressive?

We wish Carrie Fisher continued success and thank her for the honesty that has shown others with bipolar disorder that it is possible to triumph over adversity.

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