Maria Bamford is Lady Dynamite in Netflix’s original comedy series which debuted in 2016.
Maria Bamford is also a woman with bipolar moods whose comedic work often revolves around the experience of living with bipolar. In her work she talks frankly about being hospitalized, mania, depression and obsessive thoughts.
I am indebted to the wonderful magazine (available in both print and online) Bipolar Hope for making me aware of her work. In the article about her in the November 2016 issue there is an interview with her and a summary of her professional career.
In a 2014 profile, the New York Times talks about her style of comedy –
Much of Bamford’s work examines the relationship between “people” — generally well-intentioned friends and family — and those who grapple with depression or anxiety or any other challenge to the psyche. Her act is a series of monologues and mini-skits performed rapid fire and often without regard for transition. Deploying a range of deadpan voices, she mimics the faux-enlightened who hover around the afflicted, offering toothless platitudes, bootstrapping pep talks or concern warped by self-interest. The humor of any given moment relies not so much on punch lines as it does on the impeccably timed swerves of her tone, the interplay between Bamford’s persona and those of all the people who don’t get her.
She was not diagnosed until age 40, and talks about the natural resistance that most people feel when they first hear about bipolar…
“I was really surprised at how resistant I was to going on a mood stabilizer, taking any time off of work, acknowledging that I needed to be hospitalized.
I remember my psychiatrist said, “You’re talking way too fast. You need to be on a mood stabilizer.” And I was just like, “What are you talking about?” I was just so angry. I didn’t want to go on the meds. It wasn’t until it got bad enough to where I was starting to feel unsafe by myself that I reconsidered.”
She also talks about her self care routines…
What does self-care look like for you?
“Music, exercise and reading. I meditate every day, and I go to a bunch of 12-step fellowships. I get a ton of help there. I’ve been to DA [Debtors Anonymous], UA [Underearners Anonymous], SLAA [Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous], Alanon, AA [Alcoholics Anonymous] and OA [Overeaters Anonymous] as a visitor. They have online and phone meetings, and that makes it easy if I’m out of town…. Friends and family are hugely helpful, and I’ll always call my psychiatrist if things get dicey. I get all the help that’s on offer. … I hope that if I had a relapse, I’d have the courage and willingness to go into the hospital.”