PrimeTime: Carrie Fisher Interview

ByABC News
December 20, 2000, 2:58 PM

Dec. 21 -- I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital, Carrie Fisher tells Diane Sawyer on PrimeTime Thursday.

Fisher, the actress who turned Star Wars Princess Leia into a superheroine, tells Sawyer her manic depression creates such a roar of energy in the brain that she is left with uncontrollable mood swings and frenzied thoughts, and suffers sleepless nights.

A Neurobiological Brain Disorder

I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully, says Fisher. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.

It has taken her 20 years and a mental breakdown to say these words publicly. I have two moods, she explains. One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes its out.

Manic depression, a chemical disorder also called Bipolar Disorder, is a type of mood disorder that is characterized by unpredictable mood changes, known as manic and depressive episodes. In a manic phase, one may experience excessive energy and irritability, heightened mood, decreased need for sleep, exaggerated self-confidence and may engage in recklessly pleasurable or dangerous activities; depressive episodes may be characterized by severe lows, loss of energy, inability to concentrate and persistent lethargy. While there is no cure, it can be managed with medication such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, anti-psychotics as well as psychotherapy.

The world of manic depression is a world of bad judgment calls, says Fisher. Just every kind of bad judgement because it all seems like a good idea at the time. A great idea So if its talking, if its shopping, if its the weirdest one for me is sex. Thats only happened twice. But then its wow, who are you?