Amy did a post last week about Carrie Fisher, and her interview with Diane Sawyer where she said that “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on.”

The post really touched readers, a number of whom sent in comments, some of which I have posted below.

Amy wrote that “Her words resonate because … living with this illness is a lot of work.  Carrie Fisher is an iconic hero. Not only did she portray a princess and one of the greatest leaders of the Rebel Alliance, eventual savior of the universe and all of its many galaxies, but Fisher is also well known for speaking up about a matter that most employees tend to hide in their workplaces—bipolar disorder, once known as manic-depression.

In April, I wrote here about the stigmatization of mental illnesses. I told you that one recent study states that nearly 85% of people say they’re uncomfortable discussing mental illness at work, which can cause problems for your workplace.”

Readers responded.

Mike Duffy, Vice President Litigation Services, Chicago, was as candid and courageous as Carrie:

“Amy:  I had to write and thank you for your outstanding article on Carrie Fisher and the need for empathy and understanding for those with bipolar and other mental illnesses.  Our lovely 23-year old daughter was bipolar and died by suicide 4 years ago this February.  Our family is committed to doing all we can to remove the stigma of mental illness.  We will not stop until parity is a reality and every doctor asks about depression, anxiety, addiction etc., at every checkup.

Your article demonstrates your understanding of mental health and also the practical and legal reality of dealing with mental illness in a common sense way in the workplace.

Thank you so much for your work.”

When Amy asked Mike if we could post his comment – either using his name or anonymously – he replied:

“You certainly can use it in any way you want.  No need to do it anonymously unless you want to for some reason.  As you point out in your article we need to work on removing the stigma and the best way is to be as open about the mental illness that is all around us.  My wife and I are what they refer to as field advocates for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and support a number of other mental health organizations including NAMI.  The more we can publicize the issues the better.  Thanks again for what you do.”

Robin Benton, President of an employee benefit consulting firm in the Chicago area:  “As Ms. Fisher famously said, ‘One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. … At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of.’

No truer words were ever spoken. I remember seeing her coming out about her illness on TV when I was younger. I have worked with people who have suffered from this illness and found them to be some of the most dedicated workers I’ve worked with. Great article.”

Joanne McCormick (Nelson), a small business sales exec on Long Island:  “Interesting I was just discussing this with my co-worker, I am seeing more and more people (employees) asking about the mental illness part of the benefits package, whereas generally it was an afterthought. It seems to be a growing important item, very tough illness to manage and understand by others.”

Sloane Thompson, a “Forward-Thinking Connector * Physician Leader Career Coach” in the Indianapolis area:   “Thanks for posting this article. It has some good suggestions and an important message for employers and individuals as well. May the force be with you!”

Elizabeth Lykins, a transformational coach in Santa Cruz, CA:  “Nice article. Thanks for sharing. Carrie contributed more to us than she will ever know.”

Thanks again for your post, Amy!

Amy Gluck, FisherBroyles Partner