Carrie Fisher’s had a lot happen in her life since the success of her last book, from the death of her father to losing over forty pounds. In her latest book, “Shockaholic”, she details her experience with electro-convulsive shock therapy and how it may be causing her to lose some of her memories. Here's an excerpt.
What was it I wanted to tell you? Was it the new T-shirt-ready saying I came up with: “There’s no room for demons when you’re self-possessed”? No, that wasn’t it, although I did want to get that in somewhere and now I have . . . Oh, yeah. I wanted to tell all you naysayers who bought this book begrudgingly—or received it as a gift from someone who doesn’t know you that well—that by the last page you will say to yourself (as I did), “That Carrie Fisher! I picked up Shockaholic expecting to read way more than I wanted to about some eager-to-please f--ktard blathering on about her drug addiction and her mental illness and her poor sad life. I mean, come on, this woman made millions of dollars on Star Wars. What is she complaining about? She’s so self-involved that they need to come up with a new word for what she is. I mean, does she have any other topic but herself? No wonder she’s mentally ill. She’s got herself on her mind ten, fifteen, twenty hours a day! It never ends. ‘Oh, here’s something about me, and here’s another thing about me, and, wait, here’s something about me I don’t think I told you. Oh, I did? Well, here it is again in case you managed to forget it.’ And the thing is, Who’s asking? Does anyone hear any questions? I think someone actually has to pull her aside—if you can get her to shut up for five seconds—and say, ‘No one has asked you a single question, not in twelve thousand years. Can’t you just give us all a break? We all have lives, too, but how can we live them with her continuously blowing the lunch of her life into our existence. No one has asked!’
“But I truly had no idea she was so smart—and so funny! And more to the point, so real! I was so completely fascinated and charmed by what she wrote that by the last page I had completely forgotten that she was an over-the-Beverly-Hill mediocre ‘actress’ with a wrinkly neck and unsightly upper arms. And probably the most important thing I came away with is that I now have the ability to forgive myself for all those judgmental, hateful, preconceived notions that I harbored for a well-meaning person who was only trying to make me take a good, long hard look at myself by sharing her story with me, after which I said, ‘Wow. I now realize for the first time that I need to love and respect others before I can truly love myself.’ And by ‘others,’ for the most part, I mean Carrie Fisher. From Shockaholic, I learned that a person doesn’t have to finish high school to have insight and use big words. Ms. Fisher may not be what is considered conventionally attractive—among other things her tits are so big that they’d have to add letters to the alphabet in order to identify her bra size—but it’s my opinion that you couldn’t find a better example of ‘good people’ in all of history. And, you’ve got to respect someone who has managed to overcome the previously unappreciated challenges of growing up surrounded by an unending procession of maids and governesses and cooks and guards, depriving her of the joys of being raised by a mother and father in a cozy house in a regular neighborhood with a dog and home-cooked meals and chores. This is a person who missed out on the ordinary, everyday essentials most people can count on as a foundation from which a sane, predictable life can be built, and who had to forge an existence for herself that made up for never having known the joy of saying, ‘What’s for dinner, Mom?’ or ‘No, I did not flush the fish down the toilet.’ Instead, Ms. Fisher had to develop values in the face of the hard reality of wanting for nothing. Sure, from the outside, her life looked too good to be real—but, if you think about it very briefly, I think you’ll come to the conclusion that perhaps it was too unreal to be good.
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You see, even after decades of therapy and workshops and retreats and twelve-steps and meditation and even experiencing a very weird session of rebirthings, even after rappelling down mountains and walking over hot coals and jumping out of airplanes and watching elephant races and climbing the Great Wall of China, and even after floating down the Amazon and taking ayahuasca with an ex-husband and a witch doctor and speaking in tongues and fasting (both nutritional and verbal), I remained pelted and plagued by feelings of uncertainty and despair. Yes, even after sleeping with a senator, and waking up next to a dead friend, and celebrating Michael Jackson’s last Christmas with him and his kids, I still did not feel—how shall I put this?—mentally sound.
So, after all this and more, you have no doubt guessed by now that I finally relented and agreed to submit to a controversial treatment that a long line of reputable psychiatrists had been urging me to consider for what seemed like centuries. With no small nod to squeamishness, I consented to undergo electroconvulsive therapy, formerly and perhaps more commonly known as shock treatment. Now, I, too, of course, believed what pretty much the entire Western world believes, thanks in large part to Hollywood’s portrayal of it—I believed that this treatment was an extreme measure primarily administered as punishment to mental patients for being crazily uncooperative. But it turns out that if you’re in sufficiently agonizing shape, you—or maybe not you, but, for example, I—will finally sob, “F--k it. Let’s say it even does turn out to be a punishment, which I doubt very much that it will, but if it did it couldn’t be much more horrifically harsh than what I’m barely able to endure now, so what are you waiting for?! Go on! Do it! Do it before you don’t have a mind to change.”Video: Carrie Fisher confronts problems in ‘Shockaholic’ (on this page)
But, as you may have heard, the main side effect of ECT is that it really messes with the part of your brain that deals with memory. What I’ve found is that, at least for the moment, most of my old memories remain intact, but I totally lose the months before and after the treatment. Exactly how much time I lose is really difficult to say, because what I’m ultimately doing is trying to remember how much I forgot, which is an incredibly complex endeavor, to say the least.
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It occurs to me that perhaps one of the reasons I found myself sporting my enormous bulk is another by-product of that memory-addling ECT. I may have simply forgotten how to not be overweight. So, before I fail to remember anything else that could result in any future social embarrassment, I thought I would jot down a few things that I might one day enjoy reflecting on. Or, if the ECT continues to take its toll, reading some of the things I’ve jotted as if for the very first time. Because, let’s face it, if the disastrous should occur and I fail to reduce my ever-expanding girth, I’d better have something funny to say. And perhaps even an insight or three. You know, something along the lines of the amusing musings of a chubby sidekick.
To paraphrase The Onion—and when I say paraphrase, I mean basically steal one of their headlines and change one word in an attempt to make it my own—you haven’t lived vicariously until you’ve done it through me. So, before I forget, what follows is a sort of an anecdotal memoir of a potentially more than partial amnesiac. Remembrances of things in the process of passing.
From SHOCKAHOLIC by Carrie Fisher. Copyright © 2011 by Deliquesce Inc. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc., NY
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