Thank you and Farewell to a Duke And the Princess.

6 Jan 2017

Last year the world lost two talented actresses who touched my life as they bared their lives in public so they could help others.

When I was nine I loved the Patty Duke show with the two characters played by the one person - back in the 1960s. I identified with the well-meaning but often reckless Patty rather than the conservative cousin Cathy. This year I read that Sydney Sheldon the producer had made the two characters as he had seen the two sides to Patty's character.

Fast forward to 1990 when I had 3 young children and was being pressured to go on medication. I was still in denial about my bipolar diagnosis some 14 years earlier. A friend lent me a book that she "hoped would help me". I usually would smile and say thanks then never look at the book, but this time I was curious as it was written by Patty Duke. Call Me Anna, was the title because as a child she lived with guardians who managed her acting career and they changed her name. She was told Anna Marie is dead, you are now Patty.

I started to cry and read and nod and smile and cry.

I even wrote a letter to Anna that I never posted but I felt she would understand me.

Anna(Patty) had written a memoir where she admitted to having manic depressive (bipolar) and wrote so honestly about her behaviours when manic and depressed. My life was so different I was not a famous film star I had not had the pressures she had. I couldn't even tell my neighbours I had bipolar but she told the world.

I did not hear about Carrie Fisher until someone in the mid 2000's gave me her book the Best Awful. (This will sound unbelievable to many Star Wars fans but I have never watched a Star Wars movie!)

I really liked her honesty and sense of humour. She said in the show, Wishful Drinking "Having waited my entire life to get an award for something anything... I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. How tragic would it be to be runner-up for bipolar woman of the year?"

Sadly Carrie's mother Debbie Reynolds died a day after her daughter. They had a difficult relationship all acted out in public. Todd, Carrie's brother said his mum cared a lot for Carrie over the years when she was unwell.

Both Anna(the Duke) and Carrie (the princess) experienced addiction and mental illness. They both chose to use their celebrity status to be honest about their struggles and to give hope to others.

I realised that having every second of your life scrutinised and recorded would put a person under so much pressure. I admired Anna and Carrie for choosing to be open.

Were you touched in some way by these 2 women? In what way?

Do you think it is harder for a celebrity to be honest about their mental illness or do you think it would be same for anyone?


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