Maria Bamford mines her own mental health issues for Netflix's 'Lady Dynamite' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Maria Bamford mines her own mental health issues for Netflix's 'Lady Dynamite'

Actor Maria Bamford is shown in a scene from the show "Lady Dynamite," which is scheduled to stream on Netflix. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Doug Hyun/Netflix MANDATORY CREDIT
May 19, 2016 - 6:20 AM

TORONTO - Maria Bamford knows well the adage that comedy often comes from a dark place.

After all, she's mined her own mental health issues for her standup act, which she'll bring to Montreal's Just for Laughs festival this summer.

And her new star-packed Netflix comedy series, "Lady Dynamite," is loosely inspired by her struggles with depression and bipolar disorder.

"It is an amalgamation of the imagination of the writing staff and some of it is the storyline from ... when I had a mental shutdown," she said in a recent phone interview.

"Part of it is also surreal and goofy and was inspired by things that I said but not necessarily what happened."

Kicking off Friday, the series begins with the California native playing a somewhat fictionalized version of herself: a sweet comic in an eccentric show-business world trying to find balance.

After a six-month break in a "psych ward," she's on meds and looking to work less. But her manager, played Fred Melamed, is keen to get her back in the saddle.

Guest stars in the first episode include Patton Oswalt, Ana Gasteyer, Jon Cryer and Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray and "Extra" fame.

Bamford, whose other credits include the "Arrested Development" reboot and "Louie," said her "mental shutdown" was partly a result of her medication not working anymore.

"It was a gradual feeling worse and worse," she said. "I've always had some sort of depression, a sort of suicidal ideation thing, and I kind of accepted that as a normal state of being."

Something also changed after she turned 40, possibly from hormonal changes or stress.

"I was extremely agitated, like every moment was unbearable," said the 45-year-old. "I just didn't want to be around anymore. It was bizarre.

"It was like ... if you're in a lot of pain and then you just want it to all end. I've definitely experienced the depression that's more like, 'Oh, nobody loves me, everybody hates me. I want it all to end in some sort of fantasy-like way.'

"This was more like, 'This is untenable.'"

Bamford said she was admitted to a psychiatric facility twice, once on her own accord and once on the advice of others.

"That was really helpful in terms of just keeping myself safe for myself because I just didn't feel like I could trust myself to be on my own," she said.

In recent years, Bamford said she's found a good combination of medication and has "rarely felt any sort of depression."

And she feels like she's triumphed, gaining her own series despite her struggles.

"I'm violently, aggressively optimistic and positive," she said, "and as a result of living in Los Angeles for so long, you have to believe in everything — and I do."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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