Carrie Fisher’s brother is speaking out to kids about mental illness, using his sister’s battle with bipolar disorder as proof that treatment does work.
Teaming up with the Child Mind Institute’s new #MyYoungerSelf social media campaign, in which celebrities share their experiences growing up with mental illness, Todd Fisher, 59, says he noticed his sister was different from a young age.
“When Carrie and I were growing up, we knew there was something going on with her,” he says in the video above. “Her behavior got more and more extreme, everything seemed to be more difficult for her.”
At the time, there was no diagnosis for bipolar disorder. “She was struggling through something and was very alone,” Fisher explains. “All she had was the support of her family.”
Eventually, Carrie’s mother Debbie Reynolds found a specialist who Fisher says “made us aware of this disorder.” Carrie received treatment for bipolar disorder on and off for the rest of her life, and while there were hiccups along the way, medication and therapy allowed Carrie to flourish personally and professionally.
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Fisher’s sister and mother died in within a day of one another in December. Reynolds died on Dec. 28 at age 84 from an apparent stroke, the day after Carrie passed away at age 60 following a massive heart attack on an 11-hour flight from London to L.A.
“When I lost Carrie recently, I was standing at our family service, I said, ‘We need Carrie to put words to what just happened,’ because there really are no adequate words that describe these kinds of losses in life,” Fisher says.
Fortunately, Fisher points out that Carrie left behind an incredible legacy and highly respected body of work. “She left us with this amazing inspiration of a person that survived incredible adversity,” he says. “She excelled at life in everything she put her hand to, whether it be writing or acting or even Broadway.”
Fisher adds that his sister could accomplish anything she set her mind to and that might not have been possible without treatment. “Without the help of her doctors and family and medication, I don’t think we would have seen what we were seeing,” he explains.
“To any child who’s struggling today with mental health or a learning disorder, take a look at Carrie,” urges Fisher. “Use her as your role model. Do not be afraid to ask for help. You’re not alone, and treatment does work.”