A short interview with comedian, Maria Bamford
conducted by Kyle Dowling
THE BELIEVER: You’re very open about the difficult times in your own past. Depression, mental illness, insecurity.
MARIA BAMFORD: Yeah. A mental health issue for me is that my whole life I’ve been bipolar. Sometimes I didn’t realize it. I’ve been hospitalized for that and wow—at least for me—it’s really embarrassing. There’s a lot of shame in that and generally I have to keep telling myself it’s just a health issue. It’s not like I made it happen. And like any other health condition I need to go to the doctor. I need to regulate my meds. I need to pay more attention to diet and exercise and getting support around the illness. I think those issues are like any other but I know in telling certain friends about it some wouldn’t want to visit me at the psychiatric hospital. It’s so different than somebody getting a hip replacement where it’s, ‘We’re getting you balloons and a teddy bear!’ And, you know, I had some friends that react that way. ‘We’re going to get you balloons! But we’re going to take the ribbons off the balloons because… you know!’
BLVR: But with everything that you just mentioned, somehow it manifested itself in comedy. It didn’t go down the road of “poor me.” You decided to make light of it. How did you make that decision?
MB: I don’t think it was a conscious thing. I think in the moment it’s a little hard to talk about it. For me, it takes at least a minute to have a sense of humor about things, at least 60 seconds.