2016 has not been a good year. It has had its tumultuous moments. War and unrest caused unimaginable suffering in Syria forcing the mass of evacuation of many, leaving many with nowhere to go and no one to help them. A long and vicious Presidential Campaign in the United States left a country divided and traumatized with many fearing the next four years of the electoral college’s selection’s term in office. The world lost many talented artists as well. We lost Elie Wiesel, Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie, Arnold Palmer, Nancy Reagan, Patty Duke, and just this week, Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher.
Carrie Fisher was a child of Hollywood Celebrity. Both her parents were A-listers. Eddie Fisher was a singer and entertainer and Debbie Reynolds was a star of movies, dancing and singing. Their marrage ended in divorce when Eddie fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor by spending too much time consoling her after her husband’s tragic death in a plane crash. Carrie Fisher followed her parents footsteps into acting and entertainment. At 17, she co-starred in her first movie, Shampoo, the quintessential Hollywood movie about Hollywood in the free love 60’s and early 70’s. The male lead was the world’s sexiest man, Warren Beatty. In those days, it didn’t get any better, so you thought. For Fisher, it actually did. A few years later she starred in Star Wars. Mega hit! A life time of sequels and forever being known as Princess Leia.
While Fisher died returning from promoting the latest installment of Star Wars and her newest book, many are remembering her bravery in talking about her struggles with mental illness and alcoholism. She was first diagnosed as being bi-polar when she was just 25. All through her life she worked her illness into her books, screen plays and humour. She had that twinkle telling you that she is going to make you laugh when you just as easily be crying. it became okay to share about your struggles. She even humorously quipped that there should be a Bi-polar Pride Day.
So, we are at the end of a year when many are reflecting on the past and looking to the future. Some may be fearful, some may be anxious, and some may even be hopeful. The question is how do we all find hope in the next months? How do find a positive renewal of ourselves.
Recently I was watching the Dr. Phil show and he mentioned an interesting concept called psycho-neuro-plasticity or PNP for short. PNP refers to the renewal or rebirth of brain cells. Scientists have observed that the brain of trauma victims, stroke patients, and emotionally injured individuals can be rewired to heal from their injuries.
Some psychologists are using PNP to treat the mentally ill as well as those with addictive diseases. The approach is 3 steps which involve healing the brain by getting stronger physically, nutritionally and through restorative rest, then building healthy brain functions by undoing negative messaging (i.e.. fake news), strengthening self-image and belief systems, and basically wiping the slate clean of the bad messaging in one’s life. The final stage is very similar to the 12 step programs where one learns let go of fear and embrace love and spirituality in what ever form that means for them.
Of course, this could be all be gobbletigook, but it also offers hope that the brain can be healed not just pharmacologically numbed. It also makes us aware that when we hear bad, negative and hateful things they leave a scar just as much as a knife or a fist can.
We can be new again. We will have to work at. We will be renewed!
RIP Carrie Fisher