As we all know, 2016 has been the year of shock and loss, or at least it seems. We saw surprise referendum results, surprise presidential election results and witnessed the loss of many great individuals.
Now I’m not going to mention all those we’ve lost this year as I’m sure everyone is aware, I am however going to focus on a few people as this year we’ve lost some truly inspirational and trailblazing people.
Today we learnt that the wonderful Carrie Fisher has passed away, just aged 60 and we’ve lost yet another talented artist. A lady that spoke openly about her mental health struggles and paved the way for stigma fighting action. We should be thankful for that, or at least I am thankful for the lady who used her platform to show there is nothing to ashamed about regarding having a mental illness.
Carrie Fisher once said in an advice column ‘We have been given a challenging illness, and there is no other option than to meet those challenges’ such a blunt yet powerful statement as it’s true. Those that are mentally ill have no choice but to address and fight those demons – no matter how difficult yet are often met with cruel preconceptions about said illness. I applaud the bravery in Fisher speaking openly and using the platform she had to help others and be a wonderful advocate for mental health. RIP Carrie, thank you for empowering your fans.
This brings me to but a few other great losses of this year, including David Bowie, George Michael and Prince. I’ve heard people complain, some of the opinion that ‘people die every day, we should stop going on about it’. This may be true, but I feel there’s a point being missed here. For me it’s not that these people where famous, it’s what they did with that fame. David Bowie and Prince, both inspired generations by showing they don’t have to conform, showing you can be creative and be yourself and I’m sure both have inspired many artists along the way with their trailblazing talents.
We have George Michael who has been described as an advocate for the LGBT community, showing there is no need to be ashamed of your sexuality and celebrated his (rightly so). My point is this, these great people we have lost all used the spotlight they had to try to create a better and more accepting world. A world where we accept those regardless of sexuality, race, gender OR ILLNESS. I thank Carrie Fisher and the other late great artists for their courage and hope we can do more to change attitudes.
One more thing is certain, life is uncertain. We do not know how long we have to live our lives, but we can decide how we live it. I’ve spent all my life afraid of my illness and the perception people have of it until something changed 12 months ago. If anything the loss of those this year has inspired me to keep going, to keep fighting stigma against mental health because it does exist, and so yes Carrie, I will ‘meet those challenges’. I’ll meet them every day and I’ll keep talking until everybody realises it’s okay to be poorly. It’s okay to talk