I am a fellow “Traveller”
The late actress and fellow Bipolar sufferer, Carrie Fisher said it best. She described those who live with Bipolar Disorder as “Travellers”.
I was told this by a friend who is also living with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. He is an author and once was lucky enough to speak with Carrie Fisher briefly during a Scifi convention. She confided in him that, to her, people with Bipolar Disorder were “Travellers”. When John shared this with me it seemed to make perfect sense, it resonated in my soul.
The choice of word Ms. Fisher used, “Traveller”, has haunted me for a number of years. Or, maybe it was in the way she had confided in him how she viewed those who shared the life journey of Bipolar Disorder.
Carrie Fisher was known for stealing moments during public appearances to share her inner light with fans. The wait times during her meet and greets with the public were often quite long due to Carrie’s frequent displays of her unique personality. There are a plethora of blogs (like this one) that have recently come out after her passing which describes these stellar moments, such as how she would put glitter on those around her.
She felt it was a way of making the darkness that threatened to overwhelm her retreat just a little. Carrie wished to bring sparkle and light to a dark day, not only for her but also for everyone around her. She campaigned openly as a mental health advocate using her fame to further a better understanding of not only Bipolar Disorder, but mental health in general. She was a true pathfinder, leaving crumbs of her light for us to follow through the dark inner wilds of Bipolar Disorder.
“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. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.”- Carrie Fisher
John, himself, experienced Carrie’s unique insight into life with Bipolar Disorder when he was blessed with a few extra moments with the actress due to a logistics shuffle in her schedule. He sat with her while the convention liaisons figured out how best to direct fans from where she was signing autographs to where she was to pose for photos.
During this brief window of downtime, he was able to tell her that she had inspired him to overcome many of the hardships he experienced while suffering periods of mental health instability due to Bipolar Disorder. John went on to explain how reading about her life journey in her books had given him hope as a Bipolar sufferer to continue to live proactively with his disorder.
After patiently listening to him, Carrie took his hand gently in her own. With a knowing smile, she leaned in close to ensure that only he would hear as she softly confided in him that he was a “Fellow Traveller” like it was a secret knowledge she was passing on. In that stolen moment John felt that she had shared a parcel of wisdom that was meant for only those who “Travel”, those who ride beams of light that only shooting stars can hitch a ride upon. And, that he was one.
Carrie Fisher made my friend feel special that day when she privately shared with him her personal perspective on Bipolar life, knowing very few would really understand her meaning. She took the time to personally touch another human’s soul in a way that chased away the loneliness and isolation he felt. The word she chose to use to describe a Bipolar life, as one of a “Traveller”; one who is in constant search of the unknown (in the world within and without themselves), encountering the fantastic, never at rest, and always far from what they feel is a true sense of home, is very insightful.
At many points in my life, I too have felt as if I am a “Traveller”, a stranger in a strange land. I continue to self-identify as an “Existential Traveller” and feel that term accurately describes my life journey with a Bipolar brain.