I was going to get this out there earlier in the week, but unfortunately a power outage screwed up my wireless card, so I’ve been having trouble connecting to the Internet. In any case, welcome to the second installment of my new weekly feature, the Depression Book Club, where I talk about books that are either about depression or that have helped me deal with depression in some way. This week’s book is similar in some respects to last week’s as it is also a comedic memoir by someone with depression. Wishful Drinking, however, does something that makes it stand out in a unique and different way from the previous book: it shows us that even the people we admire and idolize can suffer from mental illness.
Wishful Drinking is the memoir of the late Carrie Fisher, beloved by many for her role as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. It was written following the electroshock therapy that she underwent to help control her severe Bipolar Depression. This is a fact she mentions in the introduction, as she is not shy about her mental illness. In fact, Fisher even mentions that part of the reason she wrote the book is to help fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Her main weapon in this fight is her dry, sarcastic sense of humor, which fills the book with a distinctive character and helps make even the worst of the stories within very entertaining.
It doesn’t hurt that Fisher lead a life that was far from typical. Born the child of two celebrities and later becoming a celebrity in her own right, Fisher had adventures that most of us can only dream, and several that we would never even think to imagine. And yet many of them are familiar, to: the bad break ups, the time your mother embarrassed you in front of your friends, and, of course, the struggle with that strange and horrible force that makes you doubt you own brain. For all the wild and outlandish tales of celebrity, the book never loses its sense of common humanity. That, I think, is it’s biggest strength: it shows us that even larger-than-life celebrities are still human.
Wishful Drinking is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and at your local independent bookstore. If you’ve read the book and want to share your thoughts, or if you’ve got a suggestion for a book to read, leave a comment below. Otherwise, I’ll see you next week.