National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Book Review: Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher
Simon & Schuster (2011), $22
By Brendan McLean, NAMI Communications Coordinator
By Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher is largely known for one role: Princess Leia. Her Star Wars notoriety has followed her and carried her through much of her life. But fame and fortune don’t exclude you from illness.
In the past few years, Fisher has been open about her struggles with addiction and living with bipolar disorder. In her most recent biographical book, Shockaholic, tells more stories from her life. Her reason for writing this memoir: the possibility of losing pieces of her memory due to electroconvulsive therapy.
Fisher deserves recognition for discussing her personal experience with mental illness and discussing the role of ECT in her recovery, a topic not often openly discussed because of its negative depiction in the past.
Apart from the first few chapters where she discusses her reasons for beginning ECT, the horrible depiction of ECT n the book does not touch on the topic much at all. Mixed with her wit and humor, she mentions it sporadically throughout her book as the impetus for writing down these memories but does credit it immensely for helping pull her out of depression: “And whereas before my brain had felt as though it was set in cement, leaving me … I don’t know … kind of stuck, the ECT blasted my Hoover Dam head wide open, moving the immovable.”
Shockaholic is often funny and many times, random. Her stories, however—including those with her step mother, Elizabeth Taylor, how she met and became close with Michael Jackson, and how she forged a relationship with her father, Eddie Fisher, after the two had been estranged for years—illuminate the importance of why Carrie Fisher decided to write down her memories. Her stories help reveal the importance of being open and honest with yourself, making amends with those who you’ve wronged and living without regrets. With those three keys in mind, and Fisher’s humor, the world is undoubtedly a better place.