After a successful West Coast tour, Missoula resident Melissa Bangs is returning home with her one-person show, "Playing Monopoly with God & Other True Stories."
The evening-length monologue documents Bangs' experience with postpartum psychosis, a condition she experienced after giving birth to her first child at age 40. With humor and candor, Bangs recounts how sleep deprivation, and imbalanced hormones led to a breakdown and time in the Providence Center.
She was diagnosed as bipolar and given a prescription for lithium, which had an emotionally flattening effect. With the help of a naturopathic doctor, she learned that she had postpartum psychosis and mania and was able to recover fully.
After researching what happened to her, she learned that 15 percent of women reported coping with some sort of mood disorder after giving birth, indicating that it's likely much more prevalent.
Bangs, who trained with the comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade, was inspired to share her tale, first at Missoula's quarterly Tell Us Something storytelling series. From that relatively short time limit, she wrote, produced, directed and performed a full monologue that had sold-out performances in Missoula.
In a review, Elke Govertsen of Mamalode magazine wrote, "I will tell you that tears ran down my face, I laughed loudly and my throat was tight the entire time as I tried to manage my emotions. I sat in the dark and watched Melissa in the spotlight tell her story and I marveled at the sheer guts and immense talent it took to do this right. When it was over I felt changed. Opened up. Exhilarated and exhausted. What I felt was nothing short of awe."
The title, by the way, refers to specific aspect of her psychosis during her breakdown — she thought that a person's visible flaws were indications they were divine. One day, she was playing a board game with an attendant and thought he was God. (She asked him to clean up the poor neighborhoods on the Monopoly board.)
In the five years since her experience, Bangs said that both Community Medical Center and Providence/St. Patrick Hospital are providing support services including individual therapy and support groups.
Previous performances of "Monopoly" in Missoula sold out, so this return run provides locals another chance to see it.