Rest in power, Carrie Fisher.
Actress, jokester, and animal-loving icon Carrie Fisher died on Dec. 27, 2016. As evidenced by the response that followed, her impact dismantling stigma surrounding mental illness will live on for generations to come.
The "Star Wars" legend, who died at age 60 less than one week after suffering a heart attack, was more than an actor. She fought for animal welfare. She railed against sexism, body-shaming, and ageism in Hollywood. And she often spoke candidly about living with addiction and bipolar disorder.
To many fans, Fisher's openness about living with mental illness made a big difference.
Helping to stomp out the stigma against mental illness quickly became one way that fans honored Fisher's legacy.
People began opening up about their own experiences living with mental illness using the #InHonorOfCarrie hashtag on Twitter.
As their responses show, Fisher's commitment to live freely helped normalize mental illness. And it helped countless others do the same.
I've been "out" about having BP I and an anxiety disorder for most of my adult life. I'm out because of people like Carrie. #InHonorofCarrie— Queen of Ergots (@Queen of Ergots) 1482939256
Because, really, mental illness is nothing to feel ashamed about.
I suffer from depression, anxiety & OCD. I'm not ashamed & I wish more people understood these afflictions. #InHonorOfCarrie— Terminally Moody (@Terminally Moody) 1482938941
Many used the hashtag to "come out" as someone living with a mental illness.
I've never been brave enough to admit I suffer from social anxiety disorder & depression. #InHonorOfCarrie--she was a beautiful person. TY.— Jeanette (@Jeanette) 1482937008
Sharing a secret with thousands of strangers is a very brave thing to do, after all.
I’m pretty open about being in recovery; I’ve been more circumspect about mental illness. In honor of Carrie Fisher: I’m bipolar, too.— take care of yourself (@take care of yourself) 1482867369
One fan shared how Fisher's book, "Shockaholic," changed their life.
Others used the hashtag to send a simple, thoughtful note Fisher's way.
Just by being herself, Fisher helped others understand you are not your mental illness.
Just by being herself, she helped others — at any age — seek help.
I finally decided at 51 to seek treatment for now diagnosed GAD with reoccurring Major Depression this year. #InHonorOfCarrie— Jennifer G 🌊🌊🌊🌊 (@Jennifer G 🌊🌊🌊🌊) 1482937902
And just by being herself, she made it OK to not always be OK.
Fisher helped people understand why they should receive the care they deserve.
Let's break some barriers #InHonorofCarrie. I suffer from anxiety and depression. Currently on antidepressant and have a therapist— Tesla Beard (@Tesla Beard) 1482872441
She lived a life that showed why no one should be held captive by any mental illness.
Some of the strongest, wisest, kindest & intelligent people struggle with mental illness. Carrie Fisher was proof of that. #InHonorOfCarrie— Harry Cook (@Harry Cook) 1482919589
And in some small way, her bravery helped whole families heal.
Fisher's on-screen legacy will no doubt live on for generations to come. But it's the person who brought Princess Leia to life that the world will miss most.
As Maya Angelou once said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Fisher made us feel alive. She helped us laugh. She helped us cry. And for millions around the world, she made it a little bit easier for us to simply be ourselves — mental illness and all.