At age 11 I was hooked on classics. No, not Bach. Asimov. Heinlein. Bradbury. I was heavy into Science Fiction then as now. May 25th, 1977 was the day everything changed. That’s when Star Wars came out. I pity anyone who hasn’t seen it in a theater. That first scene, when the Star Destroyer goes overhead, the audience looked up. The damn thing was so big, the shot so amazing, so convincing, we were sure it was only a few feet over our head. 3P0 walked, talked and worried. And a lovely princess stood up to a black beast and made us all cheer. NOTHING would ever break this girl.
I’ve had an intellectual crush on Carrie Fisher for 36 years. When I heard she was Bipolar I was horrified. She was diagnosed in 1980, but didn’t accept the diagnosis until 1985. There she was, bright eyed, that lovely voice rolling with laughter with an undercurrent of steel that helped the Rebels win, telling the entire world not only that she had a severe mental illness, but she was fine with it. It’s one of the things that makes her who she is. She’s not blowing it off, but she’s dealing. Not only that, but she’s being honored for that fight.
Princess Leia and I fight the same battle. Every single freaking day. Way to go girl! She gives me hope. (Notice how I avoided “A New Hope”? I hope you appreciate the self discipline that took.)
Is sports more your thing? Let’s talk football, and another inspiration of mine. Brandon Marshall, the former Denver Bronco. You might think he’s an odd choice, as he was essentially run out of town. Drafted in 2006, he was charged with misdemeanor battery in 2008 (jury found him not guilty) and arrested for disorderly conduct in 2009 (charges dropped). When he played for the Dolphins he was stabbed in the stomach by his wife. The Dolphins traded him to the Bears after he was accused of hitting a woman in the eye. Why does he inspire me?
Brandon Marshall suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, which is another issue I suffer from as well. And let me tell you, I HATE that name. You can’t imagine how many times I’ve been asked if I’m “borderline crazy” and when I’ll know for sure, one way or the other. Ha. Ha. It is to laugh. BPD may have the silliest name of any mental illness out there, but it is a very serious disease. It’s defined by black-and-white thinking. You love someone one day, they’re your bitter enemy the next. There is NO gray area whatsoever. It leads to very intense, highly unstable relationships resulting in, among other things, a lot of job changes if you’re not diagnosed.
But Brandon Marshall IS diagnosed. It took a while, and 2 jobs, but he got there. He’s even married still. Considering the strain BPD puts on all relationships, that’s a miracle. *applause* He told the press in 2011 not only that he has it, but that he hopes to spread awareness about BPD by becoming a spokesperson for the illness.
Football isn’t your thing? How about basketball? Another name has been added to the list of heroes, and I’m so proud of this young man. Royce White, rookie player for the Houston Rockets. Talk about gutsy!! He didn’t just tell the public he’s mentally ill (he suffers from an Anxiety Disorder). He told the Rockets, with quiet dignity, that a mental illness is exactly as legitimate as a physical one. He has special needs, they need to be addressed. The Rockets disagreed, a labor dispute ensued, he was suspended for 3 weeks. He held his ground. On January 26th 2013 Royce White was reinstated, the two having come to a “mutual agreement”. He put his entire career on the line to prove that mental illnesses are legitimate, and won.
Princess Leia can handle this. Brandon Marshall is dealing with it. Royce White just fought so people after him might be taken seriously. I can do this. So can you. We’re not alone out there.