Carrie Fisher and the Dark Side That is Mental Illness

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

Carrie Fisher’s autopsy reports were released this week, revealing that at the time of her death she had a cocktail of numerous illicit and prescription drugs in her system. The news, as it always does with public figures, prompted a new wave of grief, and a fresh round of moralizing on the wastefulness of addiction and the perceived weakness of the victim; the kind of public interrogation of the dead we seem to thrive on. 

Carrie Fisher had always told us everything. She owes us nothing more than she’s already given.

In her writings and in her interactions with the press, she never denied her demons; always expressing with great candor, the pressures of celebrity and of enduring misogyny and ageism in Hollywood—all braved while carrying the massive weight and stigma of mental illness. She never shied away from letting us see her scars, even if they made us wince, even if we’d have preferred they’d stayed hidden. Mental illness is still the only kind of sickness we make people feel guilty for being afflicted with, and she was not going to apologize. She knew that it thrives in the darkness of silence and shame, and as much as she could—she let the light in.

Carrie spent her life entertaining us in her youth and trying to educate us in her later years. She is still teaching us in her passing. 

When you get to be a certain age, you realize your heroes are mortals. Watching people who inspired and entertained you as a child; people you looked up to as near-Gods, succumbing to sickness—the world loses a little of its wonder and you lose a bit of your innocence. But more than that, you recognize just how fragile each of us is; that translucent onion skin separating us from collapse, from being overtaken by the shadow parts of ourselves.

As someone who’s fought back the dark side that is my depression for most of my adult life, Carrie’s off-screen battles were far more awe-inspiring to me than anything she did alongside Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. She looked her illness in the eyes, then looked directly into ours and told us how much it hurts—just what kind of hell she was walking through every day. And even when she appeared to be getting the upper hand it was always a tenuous truce.

Carrie reminded us that nothing; not adulation or success or people who love you; nor any comforts found in material things or in medication, can protect you for good. Every victory you earn will be temporary, because the next day will bring new attacks and you will have to save your inner universe all over again. When you battle the demons in your own head, you can outwardly have every reason to be victorious, every advantage in the fight—and you may still eventually be overtaken. And it’s not because you were weak, and it’s not because you took an easy way out, it’s because you can’t escape you. You can never fully get out of harm’s way because you are the harm. 

People can try and parse out her life and decide what caused her death, but ultimately Carrie Fisher wasn’t an addict and she wasn’t weak. She was everything in life that she was as Princess Leia; fierce, unrelenting, and fully devoid of bullshit. She spoke truth to the demons without flinching. She took on the dark side of herself as boldly as she did Darth Vader—and she won.

With every day she lived in this place and created light for other people, she won. 

In every moment she lived unashamed of her illness, she won.

May the Force be with each of us who battle our darkness in this day.

Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.

 

 

122 thoughts on “Carrie Fisher and the Dark Side That is Mental Illness

  1. I am grateful for Carrie Fisher for being candid about her mental illness and doing a lot to erase some of the stigma of it, as a sufferer of depression myself.

  2. I too would like to thank Ms Fisher for helping bring mental illness into the mainstream. I have two sisters who suffer from depression and no one should ever have to feel that way

    • Sammie wrote ” I have two sisters who suffer from depression and no one should ever have to feel that way”

      No, Sammie, they shouldn’t but it happens. And people will say the most viciously cruel things to us. People are afraid it is a contagious disease and so they give us their prescriptions and then get mad at us when their prescriptions fail, as they always will.

  3. How very sad, such a loss for those who loved her. I don’t understand addiction, but perhaps a life is so troubled and the mental illness so overpowering that she had no choice.

  4. That was absolutely beautiful, insightful and enlightening – as are all your posts. When the day comes, will you do my eulogy? Wait, never mind. I plan to ascend. Thanks again!

  5. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Carrie}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} I know who much it hurt. I know the temptation to self-medicate so it doesn’t hurt so badly. Our loving Lord has you in His embrace and you are healed and cured.

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{John}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}]

    No doubt the trolls and in particular the troll who is stalking me here will be delighted to read what I am going to write.

    I hear you, John. I hear every single word. I first manifested symptoms of depression when I was nine years old. My mother thought I was shy and didn’t understand that I experienced certain things as traumatic incidences: suddenly being transferred to the public school system; being forced to play field hockey on my very first day when I had no idea how to play it because we hadn’t had PE in the RC private school I had been attending; fearing for my soul in public school amidst the hell-bound Protestants, as the Sisters on my RC school had taught us. The death of my cat.

    As I grew, the stressors only got worse, adolescence, boys, never being encouraged to do things in which I excelled. Well, let’s just say, the stressors became more severe the older I got. I did get myself through college with an excellent degree in Biblical and Theological Studies and through seminary with an even better degree in Theological Studies, specifically Church History.

    The plan was to get a Ph.D and teach in seminary or university but my last year of seminary was rough. I was working part-time, going to school full time and I was just plain exhausted. I didn’t see how I could possibly continue with my studies and working to support myself when Ina couple of years I was going to have to add teaching to that load.

    I had astounded myself by doing brilliantly in my part-time job and so I worked in the business world until I was forced to apply for permanent disability for Major Depressive Disorder in 1995.

    I just couldn’t do it. The pain was so very intense it took everything I had to get out of bed in the morning and make a cup of tea.

    I had been in therapy since I was 15, on anti-depressant meds since I was 31. People would say horrible things to me about my depression.. that there was something wrong in my relationship with Jesus, that I had unconfessed sin in my life, I had not thoroughly yielded myself to Jesus, or that God was punishing me because I was not a properly subservient wife and refused to allow my husband to rape me more than once and for divorcing him.

    I spent years working hard to learn to manage my symptoms, to make a life of commitment and service to Jesus. I began to have longer and longer interludes between my depressive episodes, faithfully taking my meds and seeing my psychologist and psychiatrist on a regular basis.

    However, the biggest difference came with I was exposed to Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Both my psychiatrist and my psychologist believe I have no symptoms of depression at all.

    I’ll be the first to admit DBT is not for everyone, although I could wish for all of us who have mental illness in this country coud at least try it. Major Depressive Disorder is an epidemic in the USA.

    My recommendation to anyone who struggles with any form of mental illness is to google Dialectical Behavior Therapy and the name of your community and search for practioners who run DBT groups.

    • Thank you for sharing your struggle. I’m grateful you’ve found something which works to ease the demons for you. <3

      • Thank you, Tammy. It has been a long, dark road the majority of my life although it has some plus sides.

        When I was in seminary and taking a class called “The Spiritual Experience of the Early Church” and then another one called “The Spiritual Experience of the Medieval Church” I was introduced to the contemplative, mystical path and I longed for that with every fiber of my being. But I thought, that because of my constant struggle with depression that I couldn’t have it. Then in a conversation with my parish priest, who also taught the classes, I realised that depression had already turned me into a contemplative and mystic. Before I even knew to ask for it, God had already given it to me.

        Cannot tell you how much that has helped me manage not to give in as so many others have done.

        Major Depressive Disorder alone is in epidemic numbers in the USA. And that is just counting the people who are in treatment. We can only speculate how many others are not in treatment who need to be.

        And that is only one form of mental illness. The mind staggers at how many people with mental illness there actually are in the USA. And because of the stigma, not enough mental health services are available and too many people afraid of the stigma to get help.

    • gloriamarie. thanks for bringing up DBT. i hadn’t heard of that treatment before. it’s good to learn as much as we can about various treatments that people have had positive results from.

    • “I had been in therapy since I was 15, on anti-depressant meds since I was 31. People would say horrible things to me about my depression.. that there was something wrong in my relationship with Jesus, that I had unconfessed sin in my life, I had not thoroughly yielded myself to Jesus, or that God was punishing me because I was not a properly subservient wife and refused to allow my husband to rape me more than once and for divorcing him.”

      That’s horrible. It’s frustrating to see the way Christians can treat one another…it reminds me of how Job’s “friends” approached him when he lost everything.

      I know the road was probably hard and long for you, but I’m glad you were able to get your healing — and I’m sure you can use it as a powerful testimony for other people going through the same thing. I bet you’re quite an encouragement for the folks around you.

      • Jeff wrote “I know the road was probably hard and long for you, but I’m glad you were able to get your healing — and I’m sure you can use it as a powerful testimony for other people going through the same thing. I bet you’re quite an encouragement for the folks around you.”

        Thank you, Jeff. I like to say I am healed, but not cured in that I have learned how to live with the illness and accommodate it.

        The way evangelical Christians treated me was they way they treated anyone who didn’t conform. I daresay that in the short time I thought of myself as evangelical, I was guilty fo the same sins. It seems to be what drives them to conservative politics: keeping it all so safe.

        I realized that the evangelical Christians I knew then and have met since are not governed by the love of God, but ruled by a spirit if fear. They want everything the same and labeled because what is known is by their definition safer than anything unknown, even if the unknown might be healthier and the known more destructive.

        To be afraid of the unknown is a terrible burden.

  6. A beautiful tribute, John. I really admired Carrie Fisher; she opened my eyes to see how depression can be so awful. Eternal Peace to her.

  7. Now this is a good blog. I have so much compassion for people suffering with mental illness. Unless you haven’t experienced depression you do not know how dark it feels. So sad there is such a stigma associated with it.

    • Anonymous Again, thank you. People indeed do not have any idea.

      There’s a book I recommend that won the Pulitzer: The Noonday Demon: an Atlas of Despair. My best friend read it in an attempt to get a grasp of what I experienced and she found it very helpful.

  8. I respect her for being open and not hidden something that it was hurting her. Mental illness is a great issue that still we are at the entrance gate of learning. She is fine and finally resting in peace of the demons that did not give her the freedom to be.

  9. Carrie Fisher’s autopsy results did not change a single thing I felt about her, other than another wave of deep sadness at her loss and yet another for her long long struggle with the disease of addiction. Her wise, wry voice was one of wisdom in the face of chronic debilitating illness. What a tremendous loss for the world.

  10. I always found Carrie Fisher to carry an “ole soul” , full of wisdom and as John put it devoid of BS. May she fly now with the angels free of all which afflicted her here. Rest in Peace Carrie, you deserve it!

  11. Heart-warmingly spoken as always John. I attempted suicide a year ago tomorrow 21 June but survived and for that I am greatful. It is a lifelong battle but with your words, it adds to the will to fight on x

    • Tony Griffin, I am happy to hear that you are still fighting on. Your life is precious because it is yours. May you have more good days than bad! Godspeed!

  12. {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Tony J Griffin}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    I am so glad you survived yet so sorry that you were so deep into the Insidious Dark that you made this attempt.

    I have lived with Major Depressive Disorder since I was nine. I am much older now and it has been hard to get to this place where I am now. I wrote a comment about my experience somewhere here today.

    Happy to have you with us.

  13. Well done John P! You have honored the very best part of Carrie Fisher and anyone else who puts their pain and struggle out for others to see, try to understand and learn from. It is a gift to all of us when people in pain share it as much as it is when someone creates beautiful art and shares that with us. In the end, it might be even more important than we know.

    The stigma of mental illness, which can run the spectrum from just something a person learns to live with to something that disables and incapacitates is part of ‘the human condition’.

    Having a strong connection to God can help because that is certainly a mental endeavor that can keep you on a path, but when it is something ‘misdirected’ or ‘disconnected’ inside your brain, it may not be something that can heal or be “fixed,” and coping, managing and learning how to navigate your situation may be all you will ever be able to do because the pain is always inside you.

    Sometimes you beat it back, have some good times, some happy events, a career, a family, and a loving walk with God, but you may never feel it leave you. The vigilance can be exhausting. It may come back around when you least are able to fight. I may catch you unaware and wreak havoc on your life and your health, over and over and over. For many, it is a lifelong battle. For some, it is a battle that only ends with death.

    Peace be with you now, Carrie Fisher!

  14. Like Carrie, I suffer from bipolar 1 disorder, and like her I used to self-medicate, although I used only alcohol as my drug of choice. I don’t think any the less of her because she died with drugs in her system; rather, I’m sorry for her pain and hope she’s found the peace that eluded her in this life.

    May the Force be with you, Carrie Fisher.

    • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Marla}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

      I am so sorry that you have this illness. I only have unipolar and it has been hard enough.

      I hope very much you have found quality treatment.

  15. Thank you John for this brief glimpse into the world of depression.
    Hopefully many will notice and be kinder to all who deal with life as it unfolds around them and all of us.

  16. Each day I look forward to your posts and often they resonate personally as does today’s. I very much appreciate your words. Perhaps you could explain the following sentence which seems to indicate the patient (sufferer) is at fault. “You can never fully get out of harm’s way because you are the harm.” I do not believe that was your intent. Thx.

    • Sue Mattingly asked for John P to explain something. I am not John P but I’ve been here long enough to know that John very seldom comments here. I think I’ve only seen it once. So with your permission, Sue, I will share how I understand what john wrote.

      For one thing, the sentence you quoted is within a context and I believe that context is necessary to understand John’s point. John wrote, “When you battle the demons in your own head, you can outwardly have every reason to be victorious, every advantage in the fight—and you may still eventually be overtaken. And it’s not because you were weak, and it’s not because you took an easy way out, it’s because you can’t escape you. You can never fully get out of harm’s way because you are the harm. ”

      He is writing about what depression feels like on the inside of the depressed person. I say this because I have Major Depressive Disorder also and the thing is the harm is within us. Depression is within us. We can’t oust depression. We can’t get out of depression’s way because it is too deep within us.

      I hope this helps.

    • I guess I’m not really a fundamentalist after all. I thought a fundamentalist is someone who believes in the fundamentals of the Christian faith. I often call myself a Believer, I’ll just stick with that.

      No Believer would ever say, ‘so & so is in Hell.’ Because they don’t know. [However, I do believe there is a hell, and there is a heaven. ] I know many Christians don’t believe that. I don’t take issue with that.

      Carrie Fisher said, ‘I am an enthusiastic agnostic, and would be more than happy to be shown that there is a God.’

      God is faithful.

  17. Once again you got it right. I have had family members and friends who have suffered from depression and mental illness. I also have a family full of psychologists and they all would say Amen. Carrie Fisher was so refreshingly real and open in a plastic world. She did more to help people with mental illness and addiction than she can ever know. It would appear that her daughter is much the same so kudos to her, she must have also been a good mother. I am sure Carrie was welcomed and ask to sit a spell, have some tea and let’s talk, along with her mother. I believe that God will take wonderful care of her now. Peace and Love,

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  19. The Fundie View:

    Mental illness has nothing to do with brain chemicals—except maybe as a secondary response to a primary cause. Clinical depression and all other mental illnesses are caused by sin—and sin alone—within the mentally ill person’s life—and their failure to face up to this sin in their life and cleanse the sin from their life through “true” repentance. Therefore, if you have clinical depression or any other mental illness, the very presence of it in your life is a key sign (signs and wonders) that you have never truly repented of your sins and you are certainly going to Hell when you die. No doubt about it whatsoever, which is the reason why Carrie Fisher is in Hell right now. Yes. That is correct. Poor Carrie is screaming in unimaginable agony right now and will do so forever.

    The only real thing that will cure depression and any other mental illness is totally surrendering to Jesus and repenting of the sins that are causing the mental illness in one’s life. This is how we know John Pavlovitz is not a “true” Christian and is really a false teacher and false prophet. He suffers from clinical depressions. No “true” Christian has mental illness because total surrender to Jesus instantly kills off all mental illness forever Just listen to this fine and powerful Christian testimony:

    “Before I accepted Jesus, I was addicted to crack, heroin, alcohol, ecstasy, and seven other dangerous drugs—and cigarettes. I was schizophrenic, bipolar, and stark raving mad. I was also blind in both eyes—and all my arms and legs had been amputated at the trunk of my body. Everyone in my family died on the same day—even the uncles, aunts, and cousins—leaving me totally alone in the world. I had no friends in the world, and even though I had health insurance, my doctor would not even see me. Then in the twinkling of an eye in the tent revival down at the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Church, I was shot through with fear, accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior like a bawling baby, and escaped from Hell. In that very moment, the Spirit of the Lord seized me, and instantly, all of my drug addictions ceased, my mental illnesses went away, the scales fell from my eyes, all four limbs reappeared on my body, all of my relatives came back to life again—and I got a doctor’s appointment. I grabbed both poles of the battery in God’s Ford Thunderbird, and I felt the power of the Lord surging through my body!!! Praise the Lord!!!! Praise the Lord!!! Praise the Lord!!!”

    • Charles, I can assure that probably everyone on this blog who has a mental illness is already Entirely Too Familiar with the evangelical/fundie view of mental illness and we don’t need you to tell us.

      Perhaps you have no idea how painful it is to read such stuff. But it is. I daresay most of us have already been clubbed over the head with the fundie garbage.

      So until some fundie or evangelical brings it up, I would be more grateful for words of support for what we endure, not your sarcasm for those who willfully choose to be misinformed.

      It was so painful to catch even a glimpse of stuff I have heard too many times before.

      • Hi Gloriamarie. I too am a life-long sufferer from clinical depression. Back in the 1980s, when I was attending a fundie church, I tried to cure my depression be reading self-help books authored by assorted fundies—all straight of the shelf at my local Christian bookstores. Guess what? Those books and my fundie church made the depression I was suffering incredibly, incredibly, incredibly worse than it already was.

        The above two posts above are my sarcasm put here to shine a light of truth on Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism—to show just how lie laden, superstition-laden they are with regard to mental illness and many other things—and to warn people away. Medication, talk therapy with a nonfundie clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, and a few other nonfundie treatments like electric shock therapy, electromagnetism therapy, etc. are the only truly effective methods for dealing with clinical depression. Stay as far away from “fundie cures” as possible. It is like spending your time and money on the local witchdoctor in a Tarzan movie.

        • Charles and Gloriamarie, I get where both of you are coming from and if I could I would like to make a comment. I think that all the light that can be shone on the despicable way some Christians view mental illness is a good thing. I know that it is hurtful to the person with this illness but unless the rest of us know, nothing will change. It has to be out in the open, they need to be called on it. We don’t all know how they behave. If I have never experienced it, I can’t know so explaining even sarcastically is better than us being in the dark. That is my take, Peace and Love,

        • Ok, Charles, I grant you your point. It was very painful to see. Having been there, done that, been abused by evangelicals.

          I have also found that evangelical Christian psychologists may also be untrustworthy. Which is difficult as there are a great many psychologists out there who have zero respect for a person’s faith.

          We have to be good consumers of mental health services and shop around, if we are able.

          • Bless, you Kathleen B, B for the peacemaker you are. When I read Charles response, it was easier for me to see why he needed to write than and indeed, I can’t fault him for it any longer.

            But for a minute or two I was in a bad place what with remembering the horrible things people said and the way they said them, these my sisters and brothers in Christ.

            • I know that and I felt that, so don’t apologize, I just wanted both of you to know that by your honesty and your courage to speak your truths you help everyone.

              • Thank you. I can’t hope for better than to help people.

                If I can spare anyone the kind of suffering I’ve endured, I am glad to do it. But the only way to do is to speak up and I’ve been speaking up for decades and am happy to know that many people sought treatment because of my story.

                I am certain this true of Carrie, Robin, Charles, Mr. Dosher, all of us who have been up front about having mental illness.

                We speak up. We make a difference.

                • I would add that we all need to speak up much more. As a former health insurance executive said on a CBS 60 minutes episode many years ago, (paraphrased), “health insurance companies get out of paying for mental illness treatment because we know mentally ill people are too sick to fight back against us—so we take advantage of that and screw them to save money.” The Obamacare act was supposed to deal with physical illness and mental illness treatment on equal footing—but as my clinical psychologist told me, “The insurance companies found a loophole that allowed them to side-step providing mental health treatment—and they took it. However, they did pay for psychiatrist treatment of mental illness with medication and covered the cost of medication. The health insurance companies hate talk therapy because its costs so much and costs so often. However, a person can still get it outside of insurance for about $80 to $120 per 50 minute session.

                  If the American people would just stand up and scream their lungs out about the need for mental health treatment and the need for insurance to pay for it, things WOULD change. If I were 18 years old right now, I would start up a movement to get myself a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and offer to see patients in my home office for $25 per hour. One of the biggest problems in mental health right now is the mental health practitioner who feels that he or she should be able to make just as much of a financial killing off patients as a neurosurgeon. If enough charity minded people entering the mental health field would do this, the price of talk therapy would come down for everyone.

                  I can hear the whines though about blah-blah-blah years in school and blah-blah-blah years of clinical internship—and if you knew how hard it was—you would see why my $250 per hour sessions are the reward I need and deserve. But you know what? If you went through all that just because you wanted to get rich like all Americans do—then F**k Toi!!! Helping people who are hurting is far more important than money—and if you don’t like it—go talk to Jesus about it.

                  • Charles, I have a grandson who just graduated with a degree in clinical psychology and is going on to earn his phd and he agrees with you. He is not planning on getting rich, he is doing it to help people, actually wants to work with prisoners so that when they come out they will have a chance to stay out. The only reason I tell you this is, I think this generation looks at things differently and that gives me hope. Peace,

                  • Dear Charles:

                    This from the world socialist web site today …

                    ‘The establishment of a system of universal, free health care for all requires placing the entire health care system—the private insurers, pharmaceuticals, giant health care chains—under public ownership, managed democratically to serve human needs, not profit.’

                    That’s change in which I can believe!

                    Blessings!

    • There is absolutely nothing in your words that is Christ-like. You express the antithesis of what Jesus Christ stood for while he walked this earth. Whatever is “surging through” your body sounds more like evil, hate and abuse than anything connected with Christianity.

      • Sue Baugh Mattingly, yes, he does do that. He is niot expressing his own opinions, he is telling us what evangelicals/fundamentals do and say to those of us with mental illness.

        He is completely correct in his assessment which is why I found it so hard to read. I and others I know have been at the receiving end of this treatment.

        What Charles writes about evangelicals/fundies is actually what they do.

  20. I was actually unaware of Ms. Fisher’s personal struggle. When I entered therapy for the first time when I was 17, I was counselled to be open with the world about what I was going through ~ because NOTHING was WRONG with me. Truthfully, I had a condition, but it wasn’t something I should be ashamed of – no more than a being hit by a car and ending up in a leg cast was my fault.

    By the time I was 21, with the help of a good therapist and Zoloft, I was okay. I was taken off my meds and continued on with my life. I never lied about what I’d been through and encouraged other sufferers they could talk to me if they wished. Openess helps.

    I fell apart in 2006 and nothing has fixed me since and I now accept, at 53, I’ll never have a normal life again. I am open with my bipolar disability wherever I go on the internet and with my writings. I am not ashamed.

    Ms. Fisher waged a long war both internally and with the world around her. If you have your arm in a sling, leg in a cast, or even are bald from Chemotherapy, others know you are suffering from an illness and know how to be sympathetic. When you recoil, or relapse, they have a visible reminder of what’s wrong with you.

    When your battlefield is your mind, there is no telling what counts as a victory, or loss, to the outside world. What cracks off a bit of our resolve, or makes us smile, isn’t always something we can point at and define in real world terms.

    Worse, as the struggle goes on – without those visible reminders of our struggle – it becomes easy for other people to push back in their minds something is fundamentally wrong with us ~ we are different and drugs only prop us up, therapy are just weapons in the battle ~ neither are the solution to the illness. In some cases there is no cure. It is a long, often lonely struggle, to the bitter end.

    I always take my medicine as proscribed (except twice and both times the meds were literally destroying me and I called my psychiatrist to let him know). I encourage others to do the same. Just because we are feeling fine is no reason to stop.

    I have taken over the counter medication suggested by friends as well ~ things like Fish oil. I also do light therapy for the same reasons.

    I don’t drink or do illicit drugs – because I am AFRAID. I am afraid they will make me feel better. I am afraid I will become addicted to the normal.

    I do not consider myself superior than Ms. Fisher because she went down the at road because I know I’m motivated by fear, not some concept of Greater Willpower, Honor, or promises made. I fear the abyss.

    I also understand how easy it is, when you suffer from a mental illness, to smile when you are crumbling inside. People love you and you see yourself only bringing more misery to them … so you smile. So you insist you are ‘getting better’, or ‘today wasn’t so bad’ when you know it is a lie.

    We certainly feel like s**t, so why would we want to share that pain with those we care for? It is hard to share what we see as an endless, dark road with no end in sight with those who show us some care and concern.

    It is one thing to say “I don’t know why I’m even alive today” to someone who loves you. It is another to say that the 147th time, or the 2,265th time … and know, in your soul, tomorrow will be more of the same.

    Why not lie and smile instead? Why not try to bury the pain, loneliness and despair in ANYTHING to give some credence to that lie when hope is such a distant thing?

    Ms. Fisher wasn’t ‘super brave, or ‘very weak’. She was in a Endless War and fought until the day her body finally gave out. She didn’t curl up inside and die. She did things to she knew were wrong to give her the illusion of normalcy. She undoubtedly know the bill for those actions would come due one day ~ just not so soon. Not when it ‘seemed’ she was ‘going places’.

    What ‘seemed’ didn’t matter. In the end, we are all alone inside our minds ~ some more than others.
    What illicit drugs she took didn’t matter. She was an intelligent woman who made her choices. She lived with those choices and eventually died by them.
    We will never how she chose to balance what was prescribed versus what she felt was necessary to carry her through the day. Again, she was an intelligent woman and within her fractured mind, she made choices all who struggle this way must make.

    Peace be with her spirit now her long war is finally over.

    • Thank you for your honesty. Believe it or not it helps those of us who don’t have that particular struggle to understand. I do have ears to hear and I wish you Peace and Love,

      • Thank you, Ms. B.

        I say “screw the madness”.

        I had a reader contact me yesterday. He suffers from Asperger’s. He told me when he read about my protagonist at his Father’s funeral he cried. He told me it was very hard for him to express any emotions so that chapter was very special to him. He told me as he read the story, he felt such an emotional attachment to the protagonist as he hadn’t felt for anyone in real life.

        Screw the madness. It has allowed me to help one person feel when all there was for him was emptiness.

        Screw the madness. I have made a person I will never meet (he lives in India) happy and thus it is all worthwhile.

        I hope Ms. Fisher felt the same way I did when I read his e-mail ~ just a hundred million times better ~ when she interacted her fans. She brought such innovation, inventiveness, hope and joy to so many … strangers.

        She shared a phantom connection with so many, I hope it gave her comfort to know she uplifted lives, ignited happiness and inspired dreams among the totally unknown and otherwise unreachable. She made a difference by pursuing her craft, despite the steep personal cost.

        Ms. Fisher’s death should remind us:

        We can all affect people’s lives in unexpected ways.

        We never know when our time is up so do the most we can with what we are given as opposed to worrying about exactly how much longer we might have.

        We all can inspire people so we might want to consider what we inspire them to both consider doing and what they think about.

        • I agree, and I would add that we all have our demons. Some out in the open for all to see, some not so much. I don’t worry about when my last day is, I try to treat each one as my last. My goal anymore is to make someone smile, make someone laugh, make someone forget for a moment that demon. It might just be a Thank you, or what a kind child you have or just a smile and a “Stay out of trouble” but if you work at it, it gives you as good a feeling as the person you interacted with. Life will end whenever but until then, make it better for others, my motto. Like I said, some demons you see, others are well hidden and we would do well to remember that. As a grandmother of a grandson with Asperger I can relate and for that I thank you. Anyway your take helps me with my take so Peace,

        • I think that Carrie Fisher’s legacy…(I never even saw Star Wars) will be that she helped bring mental illness out of it’s hushed tones and into the sun-filled parlor where it belongs, with family & friends.

          • leslie m, may I say I am astonished that you wrote “I think that Carrie Fisher’s legacy…(I never even saw Star Wars) will be that she helped bring mental illness out of it’s hushed tones and into the sun-filled parlor where it belongs, with family & friends” for two reasons.

            #1) How can you possibly say you’ve never even see Star Wars when it is such a cultural icon?????????????????????????????????????????? I am all flummoxed to read that.

            #2) Given the kinds of things you have posted in the past, I am stunned in a delighted way to see “she helped bring mental illness out of it’s hushed tones and into the sun-filled parlor where it belongs, with family & friends”

            Yes, I completely agree with you. There are, my psychologists and psychiatrists have told me over the years, probably millions of people not getting mental health services because they are terrified to admit to it or are in denial about it. They are suffering needlessly and it breaks my heart because I know how hard my life has been and I’ve taken advantage of as much treatment, reading, education, that I could.

            Here’s the thing, though, if you really believe this, then you simply must oppose the AHCA because is very little provision for the treatment of mental illness in the version we know about.

            For many of us posting, the mental illness we have is a pre-existing condition and we won’t get health care.

            • Gloriamarie. like you, i’m a volunteer in mental health arena too. [ in a Christian capacity, i assist those that need assistance. i’m not affiliated w a church, i just do this on my own, probably about 15 hrs a week, yesterday I was at Housing Authority, and then Burger King, tomorrow I’m meeting w people at the Library to play board games.]

              Re Star Wars… personally, i don’t care for anything Sci-Fi. Super boring. In 1977, I thought ‘Annie Hall’, was the better movie. haha. My favorite author(s) at the time were John Updike, Calvin Trilling, and Joan Didion. I devoured The New Yorker every week.

              This Health Care thing is beyond me. Sorry. All I know, is that i do what ever I can do avoid getting sick or landing in the hospital. I’m 60+.

              • Leslie m wrote : i’m a volunteer in mental health arena too. ”

                Good for you, leslie m. We need more people volunteering.

                I am confused by this, ” in a Christian capacity, i assist those that need assistance. i’m not affiliated w a church, i just do this on my own,”

                Not sure what you mean by in a Christian capacity. I consider my faith to be the basis of my being and hence, everything I do is from a Christian capacity.

                “Re Star Wars… personally, i don’t care for anything Sci-Fi. Super boring.”

                thud Thud THud THUd THUD (tat’s me fainting in shock that anyone could find SF boring. It’s my favorite genre.

                The only thing I remember from Annie Hall is Woody saying, “It’s ok. I can walk to the curb from here.”

                About the TrumpNocare… Today I read in several sources that Mitch McConnell is only going to give the Senate 10 hours to look over their top-secret version of the bill and then demand a vote.

                If I were a Senator, I would find that not only insulting but an obstruction of my oath to represent the American people to the best of my ability.

                Had can they read and become knowledgeable about this tome in only 10 hours?

              • balderdash, utter nonsense, in a high dudgeon, harrumph and pish tosh

                Star Wars did something very important for SF movies. And there have been some stunningly wonderful ones since.

                2 of my favs are the directors’ cuts only of Blade Runner and The Abyss.

                Cowboys and Aliens is just a lot of fun and who can object to looking at Daniel Craig? Or Harrison Ford? But both together? My oh my

                • gloriamarie. [I liked Blade Runner a lot. The punk aspect of it.]

                  …previously, what i mean about my ministry with needy / mentally ill, is that I pray, do music worship, study the bible with them, and much of our conversation is about our faith, or Jesus, or what Jesus says. And the programs i assist with, are ‘faith-based’. … thrift shop, hotel, substance abuse clinic, etc. I do not work for a Govt agency (although, I do interact with Govt agencies.)

                  • So glad you like Blade Runner. You might like the Abyss if you can find the director’s cut.

                    Thank you for clarifying what you meant about a Christian capacity.

                    My volunteer work is in a County facility.

    • Mr. Dosher wrote “I fell apart in 2006 and nothing has fixed me since and I now accept, at 53, I’ll never have a normal life again. ”

      Please, I beg of you, google your city for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I thought nothing would ever give me a handle on my depression but DBT did.

      Thank you for sharing your story. It helps all of us to speak the truth about who we are. That we have a mental illness is a fact of our lives and should be treated as such.

      • Thank you, Ms. Amalfitano. I have not been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but I will bring this up with my psychiatrist when we meet again. I’ve certainly gone through enough failed drug regimens and therapies for what they think I have.

        I have bi-polar with social anxiety issues, but have been treated for depression in my youth and ADD more recently (to no effect). Suicidal impulses are something people struggling with depression and bi-polar have to deal with as well. It certainly won’t hurt to make the inquiries.

        Again, thank you very much.

        • Mr. Dosher, you make me remember something I should have said. Marsha Linehan herself has Borderline Personality Disorder and she developed DBT originally to help herself and others who were not helped by other forms of therapies, such as CBT. Thus the first edition of the DBT Skills Training Manual addressed its use with Borderline patients.

          However, over the years, many people have identified these skills to be applicable to other forms of mental illness. Dr. Linehad (a former RC nun, btw) revised the second edition of the DBT Skills Training Manual to include treatment of all forms and is no longer exclusively for Borderline folks.

          • That is a testament to how little we know how the mind really works as well as how what might work for one person won’t work for another.

            No drug is the Magic Bullet.

            No therapy provides the Perfect Skill Set.

            We each struggle forward knowing what might work for us, might not save another. That hurts yet it is our reality.

            Especially when I was younger when Zoloft and Christian Therapy ‘cured’ me, I felt a sad kinship for those I left behind ~ those in therapy who hadn’t improved and weren’t returning to a normal life.

            I know a year later we lost another one to suicide despite all the same pathways we’d walked down together. She felt unworthy of love and despite our efforts, she couldn’t accept her inner beauty remained untarnished.

            F**k it all – it hurts even now to remember her.

            That was at her service Doctor Bob reminded me of one his most crucial lessons: you can never save a person. A person must save themselves. All you can do is be ready – to stand by and be prepared to help when they ask for it.

  21. I differ with John’s comment that Carrie Fisher was not an addict. In her own words, Carrie claimed to be an addict.

    Most likely, her use of alcohol and drugs began as self-medication for her bi-polar disease. But at some point she couldn’t NOT drink or drug due to what most scientists would hypothesize was a change in her brain chemistry. I seem to remember that her father was an alcoholic. That would add a genetic component to her disease as well.

    Regardless, alcoholism/addiction IS a disease, and not one to be ashamed of. I agree with John that Carrie was not weak. But this disease cannot be cured by willpower (or by faith in Jesus and I speak as a Christian). An alcoholic/addict needs help to continue to abstain, and relapses are a part of the disease. AA is helpful for some (not all- there are other recovery modalities) recovering alcoholics/addicts because they can find help in a community of people who are also recovering (never recovered) from a disease. For example, a relapsing alcoholic/addict is never shamed in a 12 step meeting. Common phrases that are said to him/her are “welcome back,” and “we don’t shoot our wounded.” There is tremendous sadness when a member of AA dies due to alcohol or drugs. But there is never negative judgement. It is a disease that can kill, and it can happen to any recovering alcoholic/addict who takes just one drink or drug.

    And yes, many alcoholics/addicts also started drinking and using drugs to self-medicate their mental illnesses. That is why therapy and medication is needed in addition to communal help. But most alcoholics/addicts in AA would say that in their experience, therapy and medication, by themselves, are not enough to maintain sobriety and abstinence.

    I speak as a recovering alcoholic of 30 years, who has also suffered from clinical depression for my entire adult life. (Fortunately, medication usually works for me, though I occasionally have to change the meds or the dosages.)

    • Those are great points and thank you for reminding us. I have family members in AA and family members who treat the addicted and everything you say, they say. Thank you,

    • Two things you should never call a person:
      “An ex-Marine” and “a former alcoholic”.

      An ex-Marines implies they left the Corps with a Dishonorable Discharge. “Them thar is fighting words!”

      A former Alcoholic implies you know nothing about alcoholism and addiction. “My friend, you are a sadly ignorant fool.”

      Ms. S, fighting alcoholism and depression at the same time is truly harsh. I’m sure the desire for one to surrender to the other is a constant battle, even with medication.

      I’ve dealt with meds working for a while then either needing a higher dose, or stopping to work at all … the Russian Roulette of the pharmacological world. Best of luck to you and God Bless.

      • JD. how about… ‘recovering alcoholic’? I think there is a distinction between those in ‘recovery’ and those are not.

        • Indeed Ms. M. Perhaps we could go “those who need to be in recovery” and those who are “in recovery”. I hate to think of people who are trying to tackle Alcoholism alone, or those who think it isn’t a problem for them.

          As you have pointed out, there are plenty of groups and people willing to help so they don’t have to go it alone. Even the stigma isn’t as bad as it was thirty years ago ~ acknowledging you need help. Sharing is a sign of strength, not weakness. For most sane people anyway 😉 .

          • You are right about it being less of a stigma today than 30 yrs ago. My husband has battled alcohol all his life, he has been in recovery for 17 years, my brother in law just went into recovery and there is a notable difference in those 17 yrs. Also you are also correct about how one thing will help one and not another. I had two cousins with schizophrenia, one has been on meds for years and has done quite well, the other couldn’t stay on them, he would decide he didn’t like the way they made him feel, half dead, so he didn’t and needless to say his life span was not very long. There seems no rhyme or reason, it just is. Hopefully they will continue with their research and find different answers for different people. My grandson tells me they will, so one can hope. Such a waste of such beautiful, talented people. Peace,

          • My conservative Christian pastor has a PhD in forensic psychology, & abnormal psych. He had 35 year career in Law Enforcement . He (with the help of his congregation who have been thru the rehab program) operate 2 substance abuse centers , 1 Men’s home & 1 women’s home, a Church, a thrift store, 3 Food /meal Ministries, and a residential Hotel for those on the street. [I’m not an addict or mentally ill, but virtually everyone I hang around & work with has those challenges.]

            Suffering is a normal part of life. However, we have a little different take than Pastor John, because we believe that we are ‘weak’. We lean on Jesus 24/7, and faltering / relapse is not un-common. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. We all assist ea other –just not at the same time.

            • what I find so disturbing is the experiences that some of you have had with Fundamental and Evangelical churches. Not all churches as those can be lumped in that sorry category. I can understand why Christians with those experiences would become bitter and angry. I have experienced it myself. The temptation is just to give up with the mindset that church attendance does more harm than good. There are a lot of pastors out there teaching wrong doctrine and that is sadly the result. Always go to the word of God for truth, see what God would say and if it does not match up with what the Pastor is preaching and teaching and how the conregation treats their own, its time to look for a bible based church. Life is hard, we will have trials and it’s through our trials we can grow and know the Lord is our comforter. People will disappoint you, look to God, not man. I suspect we have more in common than what we thought. As Leslie M. Says, God is faithful!

              • “what I find so disturbing is the experiences that some of you have had with Fundamental and Evangelical churches. ”

                I didn’t ever say my experiences were with churches. Mine were people from a variety of churches, even mainstream denominations.

  22. I was deeply saddened to hear of the drugs in Carrie Fisher’s system. She recorded how hard she struggled both with the drugs and the mental illness. She embraced 12-steps and its attendant spirituality, even if the details remained fuzzy to her (or she just didn’t want to tell us), counseling, psychiatry and its drugs, electroshock–apparently she would go to any lengths to get sober. Over and over again. But with her bipolar disorder, sobriety meant a return to her broken brain, instead of clarity and peace. And then the cycle starts over, of looking for something to quiet that ravaged mind. And if that weren’t enough, she gets to play out her life in the fishbowl of celebrity, as a daughter, a wife, and in her own right. She was braver than anyone in her movies, just to keep going and keep trying, until she literally could not take one more breath.
    Rest in the peace you never had, Princess, General, and just Carrie.

      • Charles, I’ve always wondered.. in what way did Obie Wan become “more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” because he didn’t seem to actually become more powerful.

        • I think that after death he merged with good side of “the Force,” and he was still able to reappears in ghost-like form and give directions to Luke, etc. The Jedi knights just drew from the power of the force as they needed some, but they were not part of it. That’s my best guess.

  23. I want to thank everyone for authentically sharing and expressing themselves regarding this blog post. For either relating or trying to relate to mental illness and addiction in an honest way. It means the world to people you don’t even know and brings Christ so close. Again, with gratitude.

        • Someone please tell me how long will the likes of Joe Catholic (aka Camille) and Wayne (aka Black Mamba) be allowed to post here? Why are their twisted and perverted words allowed to be visible? Why are they not removed immediately? Is this a technical issue I’m not familiar with?

          • There isn’t a monitor and someone apparently has some tech savvy. This is a very disturbed human being. Peace,

            • Yes. They’re both very creepy. Makes one really stop and tremble at how unsafe and vulnerable children are on the internet… That people as diabolical as this have access. This is a real shame; behavior such as this should not be allowed.

              • I agree. Most times I can ignore but sometimes it is so egregious I can’t. Can’t imagine having to worry about children on the internet. My grandsons are old enough not to worry anymore but they were closely monitored by everyone because there are such creeps out there. I think they shouldn’t be allowed either but I suspect that won’t happen.

          • Susan wrote “Someone please tell me how long will the likes of Joe Catholic (aka Camille) and Wayne (aka Black Mamba) be allowed to post here? ”

            Actually, they are not. John bans the email and IP addresses used and this person sneaks back on.

            It was really nice here yesterday with no trolls, wasn’t it?

          • That is me. I just ignored the step away from the keys warning. This made me mad. The woman is dead, so to use her life and death like that, just couldn’t help myself. Sometimes I am not proud of my reactions but there it is. Peace and Love,

            • Oh {{{{{{{{{{{{{Kathleen B}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}} I completely understand.

              The lack of compassion, empathy, and sympathy are dead giveaways that the person posting as Camille is Joe of the many aliases.

              What is heartbreaking about Joe writing as he did as Camille is that he himself is so desperately in need of psychiatric treatment. Of course, he will read these words (unless John P has already banned him) and take them as an insult.

              Equally, of course, I couldn’t possibly mean them as an insult when I myself have benefited from those services.

              But he won’t be able to receive them as the prayer they are, but only as condemnation.

              • I agree and when people live in fear I think that all other emotions like empathy, sympathy etc get smothered in the fear. It is sad but sometimes they need to be called out because what this person wrote was callous and mean, using this to make his point. Up til then everyone had been so thoughtful and kind, telling of their experiences or those of family members, which I suspect is exactly what John wanted. This sharing, even for people who don’t suffer from some disorder, they have family members, and I believe we all have our demons, was a wonderful insightful conversation. He dumped cold water on it. I say Shame on him, but I am moving forward and only going to remember the good posts. Peace and Love,

                • He says crap like that solely because he enjoys upsetting people. He told us this was one of reasons for coming to this blog. Which is one of the ways we know he needs psychiatric treament. People in their right minds do not enjoy hurting other people.

                  • Well, I don’t care to watch NASCAR. But just because I don’t care to watch it, I’m not going to family’s house, set up an art easel and park my happy ass I’m front of the TV and ruin it for everyone else. I’ll go to another room.

                    There is something seriously wrong with that kind of motivation.

                    • Susan, that’s because you know to behave as a grown up.

                      I hate to see anyone in the grip of mental illness and not seek help.

                  • Gloriamarie, do you always wallow in self pity parties? I’ve read many of your correspondence the last several months, and I’ve learned that you are very unhappy, unstable, and have become unhinged. I’m really worried about you. I think you have to get a life and focus outside of John’s blog.

                    • Don’t be quick to judge Rachel. If I had to deal with a quarter of the things Gloriamarie has to deal with I would have lost faith in G-d long ago and would probably not be here today.

                    • Robin wrote, “If I had to deal with a quarter of the things Gloriamarie has to deal with I would have lost faith in G-d long ago and would probably not be here today.”

                      Bless you for those words, Robin. Thank you.

                      Back in the day when people were discovering the gift of tongues, and people were praying for the Holy Spirit to give them this or that gift, my prayer was for the gift of faith.

                      Across the years, I have come to accept that the Holy Spirit did indeed honor that prayer because my faith has often been the only thing that kept me going.

                      And my cats.

    • Susan, thank you for saying that.

      Over the years I have watched people who desperately need mental health services either disdain them, not believe they are ever necessary, deny the existence of mental illness, ruled by the fear that someone will discover they are ill and all sorts of permutations.

      My nuclear family is the poster child for dysfunction. When I was fourteen and fifteen I could not bear my pain and I acted out in a way that got attention real fast. I was punished and punished and punished and that only made it worse.

      My parent’s marriage was a disaster, they were terrible parents. Mom has Narcissitic Personality Disorder, Dad most likely had Borderline Personality Disorder.

      Of their three children, I am the only one who sought treatment as an adult. When I was fifteen Virginia Satir’s Family Therapy model was in vogue and so mom dragged me, one of my brothers (the other was just a few months old), and dad off to the Family Guidance Center. Within a short time, my father refused to go and so then my brother followed his example. Mom and I continued.

      I continued in therapy when I went off to college and every week since. Mom left treatment after she left my father, because, according to her, he was the source of all her problems. Mom has never come out of denial about her narcissism and at 92, I guess she won’t.

      Stories need to be told. Over and over and over. None of us have to live in the grip of mental illness. All of us who have benefited from treatment need to speak up because we never know who might overhear and benefit.

          • Gosh Gloriamarie, why aren’t you a baby-eating Serial Killer? You certainly have all the boxes checked.

            Oh wait ~ you chose to take mastery of your life and saved yourself from a horrid background then have gone on to work hard and are now trying to save others … I think Joe would prefer you be the baby-eating Serial Killer. At least consider such a change of careers for his sake? 😀

            • Mr. Dosher, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at what you wrote.

              But, you know what, on the whole, I think I probably have a more positive impact on people than does Joe because I chose to take mastery of my life and not be a victim.

  24. I’m sorry for Carrie Fisher dying in the manner that she did, and I am especially concerned about her soul, as I don’t know if she was a Believer in Christ! That’s my ultimate concern, not false platitudes.

    • What Carrie chose to ingest is, or was, her own damn business. I say good for her! I hope I go similarly, with my boots on.

    • Camille McGee wrote “That’s my ultimate concern, not false platitudes.”

      So you have no concern for how people experience this life? You have no compassion, empathy, or sympathy for her struggles or the struggles many of us have shared here?

      Please answer yes or no. Thank you.

      • I stand by my original posting. I’m concerned with the whole person, BUT especially the soul of a human being just as Christ was more concerned with the the soul of a human being when He uttered these words, “what shall it profit a man if he gains the entire world, yet lose his soul.”

        Again, I am concerned for this woman’s soul because as far as I have her speak, I don’t think she knew Christ.

    • “That’s my ultimate concern, not false platitudes.”

      Ms. McGee, I am uncertain if anyone here is not concerned with Ms. Fisher’s soul and reward in the Afterlife after her long journey through some truly tough times which she often shared.

      How you wove ‘false platitudes’ out of people relating how Ms. Fisher touched their lives, or invoked memories, is somewhat bizarre though. Why would you imagine people are being false at a time like this? Sure, this is the internet and everything you read should be judged as coming from it ~ but what is particular about this place, time and event?

      Trusting and taking things at face value costs you very little. No one is asking you to bail out a Nigerian Prince. In turn, you might discover people you otherwise disagree with most of the time are decidedly human, learned and insightful in ways you hadn’t realized.

  25. Pingback: The Spotlight | Popcorn In My Bra

  26. I don’t know much about Carrie Fisher’s personal life because I don’t follow Showbiz news, and such, but thanks for bringing more awareness to mental health issues. My mom refused to take drugs and didn’t drink, except for taking prescribed lithium. She always said she was high enough already and didn’t need the rocket boost– it was her way of having a sense of humour. I think my mom was one of the fortunate ones she could have easily gone the other way. It is her life long battle. You reminded me that my mom admired Carrie Fisher and said once many years ago that she helped her understand her mental illness better than any therapist. So good to see she impacted the lives of so many. It was wonderful reading the comments.

  27. Helpful Responses To Passive-Aggressive People
    June 15, 20174 minute readby Frank Powell
    In my previous post, I outlined several common passive-aggressive behaviors. Go check it out if you haven’t already. After skimming through these behaviors, I hope you asked the man in the mirror some difficult questions. All of us exhibit passive-aggressive behaviors from time-to-time.

    Once you addressed number one, something else probably happened. You identified someone you know (a co-worker, friend, family member or spouse) as passive-aggressive. And now you’re wondering how to respond.

    Chronic passive-aggressiveness has tangible effects on everyone. For the passive-aggressive person, their behaviors erode their self-confidence. A spouse or friend of someone who’s passive-aggressive can become insecure. If you employ a passive-aggressive person, their behaviors can disrupt team chemistry and potentially undermine business.

    So, there’s that.

    But, if you’re a Christian, there’s something else, a more important motivation to address passive-aggressiveness. It’s primarily a spiritual problem. Passive-aggressive people have bought into some lies. Again, I detailed these in the previous post, but these lies, I believe, directly impact the passive-aggressive person’s relationship with God.

    In my journey to overcome deep-seeded passive-aggressiveness, viewing these behaviors as a spiritual problem has been game-changing. Realizing, for example, that regardless how uncomfortable it is to share my feelings and opinions honestly, God calls me to speak truth and delights in me doing so (Psalm 51:6).

    So, I’m going to give you some practical and helpful responses to passive-aggressive behavior, but before addressing these behaviors in someone else, check yo self. Specifically, check yo heart.

    If your end goal is to improve your relationship or work culture, you’re doing it wrong. The end goal should be to help the passive-aggressive person draw closer to God.

    Why is this so important?

    In my experience, if you make the end goal about your relationship or friendship or whatever, you will try to change or fix the person. That rarely ends well.

    Write this down: you are powerless to create lasting change in another person.

    If, however, you make the primarily goal spiritual, you place yourself in the position of mediator, a middle man of sorts. And, more importantly, you leave the changing up to God. This is a far better approach. Leave the outcomes up to God.

    With that said, here are some helpful responses to passive-aggressive people.

    1. Do not enable passive-aggressive behavior.

    Take gossip, for example. If your friend or spouse is passive-aggressive, you have an obligation to call out and redirect any such talk.

    This obligation extends beyond passive-aggressive people, though. If you follow Jesus, you should not allow gossip among your brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, in my five years as a pastor, gossip was far too prevalent among. Even more unfortunate, I perpetuated the problem. Sometimes indirectly by allowing it. Sometimes directly by initiating it.

    Rather than unloading our frustrations and true feelings on other people, Jesus calls us to approach the individual directly (Matthew 18).

    Imagine how different our relationships and churches would be if we responded to conflict this way? Gossip erodes trust. Don’t tolerate it.

    The same can be said for all passive-aggressive behaviors. Identify when someone refuses to comment or procrastinates and address the issue with the person.

    2. Speak assertively and specifically.

    Passive-aggressive people avoid conflict and confrontation like a plague. And that’s precisely why you must initiate it. When you do, address a specific behavior, rather than speaking in general terms. Don’t say, “You always give me the cold shoulder.” Mention a specific time when the shoulder was cold and explain how it made you feel.

    And, please, don’t do this over text message or e-mail. Talk with the person directly.

    Even if a passive-aggressive person shares their feelings via text or e-mail. Respond with, “Can we talk about this tonight after dinner?” or “Let’s discuss this in my office this afternoon?”

    3. Create a safe environment.

    Passive-aggressive people believe that if they express their true feelings, particularly ones involving anger and frustration, they will be rejected. Most likely, they heard this message as a child. But because anger is a normal human emotion, passive-aggressive people are left with a dilemma. They can’t avoid feelings of anger, but they also can’t express them. So, they opt for a passive approach, hence passive aggression.

    Whether you’re married to a passive-aggressive person or you employ one, it is imperative that you create and reinforce a culture of honest and open sharing. Your spouse, your employees need to know they’re free to disagree and share frustrations without fear of rejection or isolation. They must do this respectfully, of course. And because passive-aggressive people don’t have examples of this, you need to model it.

    4. Defuse with humor when you can.

    This requires considerable self-awareness. Infusing humor at an inappropriate time can lead to more harm than good.. When applied at the right time, however, humor can be a powerful communication tool. It can defuse and disarm a tense situation. It can also shine a light on difficult behaviors.

    I would love to hear from you. What are some helpful responses to passive-aggressive people? Leave a comment below.

    Grace and peace, friends.

    FRANK POWELL
    Frank is lead writer and editor for the blog at Bayside church. He is also a husband, father and Jesus-follower. Occasionally he plays golf. Often he drinks coffee.
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