BONUS EPISODE – Discussing Depression with Professional Comedian Paul Gilmartin – Host of the Mental Illness Hour

Paul Gilmartin, comedian, and host of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast talks about his own struggles with depression, what led him to start his podcast, how meditation has helped him, what he does for self-care and why we need to continue to destigmatize and talk about mental health more in society. Find Paul at 

Go to to sign up for Tony’s “Magnetize Your Marriage” virtual workshop on April 7th. You’ll learn the top 3 things you can do NOW to create a Magnetic Marriage.

With the continuing “sheltering” rules spreading across the country, PLEASE do not think you can’t continue or begin therapy now. can put you quickly in touch with licensed mental health professionals who can meet through text, email, or videoconference often as soon as 24-48 hours. And if you use the link, you will receive 10% off your first month of services. Please make your mental health a priority, offers affordable counseling, and they even have sliding scale options if your budget is tight.

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Tony mentioned a product that he used to take out all of the “uh’s” and “um’s” that, in his words, “must be created by wizards and magic!” because it’s that good! To learn more about Descript, click here


VC-Bonus ep 2022-03-24.mp3

[00:00:15] Come on. Take a seat.

[00:00:22] Hey, everybody, welcome to a special bonus episode, episode 314 of the Virtual Couch, and I am your host, Tony Overbay. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified mindful habit coach and writer, speaker, husband, father of four. All the normal things. But on this bonus episode today, I want to just get right to the interview. And I used to do more of these bonus episodes, the second episode later in the week, and I’m always grateful for the feedback where people will email and it’s new listeners who have a little bit of trouble trying to access the back catalog. And there are so many podcasts out there in the world. I think at the time when I started doing podcast five years ago, the number was around 600,000 and I’ve heard now over 3 million podcasts. So I know there can be a lot of just a lot of clutter, a lot of noise in that arena. So I want to put out a bonus episode every now and again. I go through and I look at the most downloaded episodes in my five years of podcasting, and this is one of them. And it’s I really want to say it’s one of the first I will call it a big gift that I had way back in the day.

[00:01:21] It was maybe in my first ten episodes, and I had reached out to a very funny gentleman named Paul Gilmartin, a professional comedian and host of the Mental Illness Happy Hour, which was a podcast I’ve been listening to for years at the time that I released my podcast. So I’m stepping on the intro because I talk about this with him. So I am just going to get right to a little bit of business. I am going to talk about my upcoming Magnetic Marriage Workshop. That’s coming up on April 7th. So I’ve got a little cut, copy and paste from a previous episode where we’re going to talk about that next. And then we’re going to get your right to the interview with Paul Gilmartin, where we cover the topic of depression and Paul’s journey. And I think it’s just powerful. He’s hilarious. I will say in doing a little bit of editing, I did take full advantage of an amazing software product called Script, and you can always see a link to that in my show. Notes to script is I say it’s made of wizards and magic, but you get a transcript that looks just like a word document of the audio file and you can go in there and edit out.

[00:02:25] So I edited out all the others and ums which are a ton, but holy cow that I say, you know, and I mean so many times in the original recording of this. And so I edited all those out, if you know what I mean. I don’t know. I was trying to say it right there too, but I’ll probably edit that out. So let me get to that. This episode with Paul Gilmartin. If you’re interested in the voodoo and magic of the descriptive software, go look in the show notes. I’ve got a link there and I hope you’ll sign up for this magnetic marriage workshop that is coming up soon. And I hope you enjoy this episode with Paul Gilmartin. I want all virtual couch listeners to know that on April 7th. So that’s in a couple of weeks, two, three weeks, I’m going to be putting on what I’m calling a magnetize your marriage workshop. It will be virtual and I will be promoting that on social media as well on this podcast and my Waking Up to Narcissism podcast. And, and here’s what I’m excited about with this is that I’m going to talk about.

[00:03:18] The tools.

[00:03:20] That you need to have a more connected relationship to be able to have more connected conversations. I often talk about my four pillars. I talk about differentiation and being autonomous and and interdependent and untangling yourself from this codependency and enmeshment and all of the buzzwords. But we’re going to talk a lot about what that actually means and what that looks like, because I am very I’m very convinced I know that this is the case, that no one has the tools. We do not have the tools from the start. And I’m talking about from childhood, from our adolescence. So you have to find the tools to make your marriage better. And you honestly, you don’t go looking for those tools until you need them. And then simply finding the right tool doesn’t fix the relationship either. That that is actually when the work begins. And I it is a little bit of a challenge. It can be difficult work. I remember being a newlywed and people say and marriage is such hard work and my wife and I often said, Oh, it doesn’t seem very hard. And we’ve been married 31 years. I’m a marriage therapist. We love each other to death. And that doesn’t mean that everything is just peaches and cream or it’s just roses and a walk in the park.

[00:04:25] Because the more that you are in a relationship, the longer that you’re in a marriage, the more that you go through things, the more that you realize that you really are two different people and you have different experiences and different thoughts and belief systems that start to bubble up to the surface. And you need the tools to be able to communicate about them. And the craziest thing is that I really believe people just don’t even understand what a relationship can look like. And as a matter of fact, Preston and I are getting some amazing feedback from previous iterations of the magnetic marriage course where people said that they even thought that they were doing pretty well, but they didn’t know what they didn’t know. So go to Tony over bacon slash magnetic and and sign up today. And now let’s get to the interview with Paul Gilmartin. I had an opportunity to interview the host of one of the top podcasts on iTunes, The Mental Illness Happy Hour. And I love the name alone, the mental illness Happy Hour. The host is Paul Gilmartin. Paul is a professional comedian. He is hilarious, but he’s also very open about his struggles with clinical depression, suicidal thoughts, that sort of thing.

[00:05:27] And so I just feel like he brings such a nice, nice mix of reality and humor. But so his topics, again, heavy. They can be sad, they can be hard to hear. But having people that are willing to open up about their own mental health struggles is just so incredibly powerful. He was a 16 year host of TBS long running dinner in a movie series where he costar and a five star chef would cook a meal that was typically themed around a movie that was playing on TBS. And then they basically improv coming in and out of breaks and it was hilarious. They used to watch it regularly earlier in my marriage, before we had kids when my wife worked retail. So he has as a standup. Paul has dozens of TV appearances, including NBC’s Late Friday, CVS, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. And he’s done his own half hour Comedy Central presents, which is aptly titled Paul Gilmartin. So admittedly, when I reached out to Paul to ask him if he would be willing to come on the virtual couch, I got to be honest, I assumed as a new podcaster that I wouldn’t hear back from him, but he was so incredibly gracious and responsive and I couldn’t believe how quickly the time flew during our interview.

[00:06:32] And he was fantastic. And I have to tell you, I love what I do. I love my job. I like to I love to speak. I love to have that opportunity to, again, help bring this topic to the to the crowds that I get to speak to. And and when I do that, I’m sure I’ll get nervous. And but then once I’m talking or speaking, then I just really I just love it. I love the energy to feed off of off the crowd or wherever I’m speaking. But man, I was nervous to interview Paul and I, and it was just so funny. I think I had texted my wife two or three times of how nervous I was, but boy, he made it easy. He really did. And I just felt like the time flew by. It was a wonderful interview. I’m so grateful for him to take the time. So let’s get to my interview with the host of the mental illness happy hour, Paul Gilmartin. If we. Okay, so I’m already recording and I’ll, I’ll edit this first part out, but I’m going to go and do a little bit of an intro and basically spend a good couple of hours going over your Wikipedia page. Is that fair?

[00:07:33] Sure.

[00:07:34] Okay. All right. My my guess is Paul Gilmartin. Paul is a popular standup comedian, TV personality. And and I think many people will remember you from longtime host of Tbs’s dinner and a movie. Do you still get recognized by that a lot?

[00:07:46] Paul Every once in a while. Every once in a while, you know, I’m a little fatter and a little older than I looked when I was on the show. But, yeah, some some people occasionally will recognize me.

[00:07:57] Gotcha. And I am I am so excited to talk to you about your podcast, the mental illness, happy hour. And before we even get to that, though, back to I was a dinner and a movie fan and so I decided to do a little deep dove on you. Paul and I went on YouTube to see if I could find any good clips. And I’m curious if you remember making Pig’s Feet. Do you remember that one?

[00:08:16] Do I do. I’m trying to remember what movie that was for.

[00:08:20] Gosh, you even referenced it in the clip that’s on YouTube. I’m drawing a blank, though, but the pig’s feet. By the end, Clyde made it look pretty good. What did you like? Most of the things that you guys cooked.

[00:08:30] Oh, yeah, yeah. The 99% of the stuff that he made was great. And if it was ever something that I didn’t like, it’s that I didn’t like the ingredient it was being made with. Not that. Not the way he made it. Yeah, he was an amazing cook. There was times I was sitting down and eating something and the camera’s rolling and I’m thinking I’m being paid to eat five star food and make jokes. This is crazy.

[00:08:56] That kid doesn’t get better than that. And do you remember anything in particular that was Pig’s Feet was unique? Anything else that comes to mind?

[00:09:03] Oh, my God. So many different things. I remember not being too crazy about goat. I remember not wanting to eat bugs. I remember being surprised by how good tongue tacos were.

[00:09:14] Wow. Yeah.

[00:09:15] Some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.

[00:09:16] And if I remember in right to that was about that sweet spot where Fear Factor was big and people were eating a lot of bugs and intestines and that sort of thing. Did you guys you feel like you had to go down that path at times?

[00:09:27] I don’t think so. I think Clod is just always that. He was the chef on the show and he has always been an adventurous person. And honestly, what drove things more than anything was the title of the dish. He would find a title first, and if it made us laugh or it seemed like it was a great title, then he would figure out what the recipe was going to be so that that drove it more than anything.

[00:09:50] Gotcha. Hey. And while we’re. Are you okay if we spend a little time here with food? Is that okay? Yeah. Are you much of a do you consider yourself a foodie?

[00:09:57] Yeah. Yeah, I am. It’s funny. I cooked a lot. Excuse me. Oh, my God. Yeah, that’s good on an interview. To be honest, I used to cook a lot, and I started doing dinner in a movie, and I totally stopped. Maybe because I was doing it for a living. But then about a year ago, a sponsor sponsored our show, Blue Apron. Yeah. And I started cooking for myself again and remembered how good it felt. And it’s also a way to for me to slow down, do something nice for myself, and it’s nice to not have to go to the grocery store. So I’m back into it, but I’m not cooking outside of the the meals that get delivered much. But I’m learning a lot because I don’t have to. I’m not spending three quarters of my brainpower trying to think of a joke about a movie, so I’m paying attention.

[00:10:51] Yeah. And I think that and I want to get to and we’ll get to some mindfulness stuff a little bit later in the interview. But I can imagine cooking and food prep. My wife feels like cutting vegetables is the most therapeutic thing that she can do. Yeah. You like that? The food prep part?

[00:11:04] I don’t know. I like how it feels when I sit down to eat and I’m just like, wow, I just did something good for myself. I feel it was kind of like when I make my bed, I feel like I’m taking care of myself and spent so much of my life just distracting myself with compulsive behavior or addictions. When I do something healthy for myself, it always feels good.

[00:11:31] I have a theory I use in my practice called the emotional baseline, and I feel like that is the more things you do from a self care standpoint. It raises this emotional baseline and everything that’s coming at you on a day to day basis is going to come at you regardless of where you’re at to face it. So whatever you can do to raise that baseline, you’re going to make a better decision. So absolutely right. And I love making the bed when you get up or even people that maybe aren’t, if they’re out of work and they’re setting an alarm clock just to be able to get up, I have women that will put on makeup, I guess, mint to the 2017. So whatever it takes so to raise that baseline. So yeah, I love that. Hey, one more thing on the food. You’ve mentioned on several occasions, you have used ice cream to self-soothe. Yeah, yeah, that’s my go to. So I’m dying to know what your what’s your brand?

[00:12:16] What’s your what do you llamo Ben and Jerry’s guy. And my new favorite is. American Dream and probably my all time long favorite was fish food. I also really like there’s a limited batch called One Love, which has been an ice cream with graham crackers, fudge peace signs and swirls of caramel. That one’s really good, but I haven’t done it in about three weeks. I was starting to get a little a little tubby there. And but more than anything, I knew I was numbing my feelings and that I ought to probably just go ahead and feel what it is I didn’t want to feel.

[00:12:53] Okay. And so have you had do you feel like you have you had a problem with therapeutic eating in the past? Do you feel like that’s really what that ice cream is? Or have you had other.

[00:13:02] A lot of times the place I’ll go to to soothe myself is a video games pornography. Those tend to be those tend to be the kind of the go tos. It used to be drugs and alcohol, but I’ve been sober from that for about 14 years, which is Wow, but I’ll use anything. There was a period of time when I was using the fantasy of shopping for land online, just imagining myself on these big plots of land that I could never afford. Right. And just anything to take me out of me is will do it. I’ve collected guitars, I’ve collected football cards. I’ve been obsessed with learning how to juggle. And then there are the healthy behaviors that I don’t do compulsively like playing guitar, playing hockey, playing Scrabble, things like that. And those are good, healthy behaviors that balance my life. But I’m not using to escape in my life.

[00:13:55] Well, there’s I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book, The Power of Habit. Charles Duhigg, have you heard that one? So it’s a good one. It’s the latest on brain research around habits and how they’re formed. And he makes the argument that, in essence, we are all addicts and it’s basically trying to find what that healthy addiction or that socially acceptable addiction is. So what you’re talking to there and I think I sent you this in an email, but on that note, you were with me on a 63 mile run on Saturday, a couple of your podcasts and yeah. And down in San Diego I did a 100 K down there but and a lot of that is it is a, it’s my socially acceptable healthy addiction that actually allows me to eat the ice cream. I mean, we’re trying to cover it.

[00:14:32] I mean, how do you how do you by the time I finish a four mile run, I think I can’t do it. Yeah. How how do you run a 100 K, how is that even possible.

[00:14:45] Yeah, it’s so funny and I am so dying to interview you, but I appreciate that I haven’t even done a podcast about my my ultrarunning yet for myself. But it really became this place where when I was doing half marathons and marathons, my legs would get to this point where they would give out and you hit this wall. And then once you get in, in their little ultra world we talk about over a few years, you get these base miles on your body and it’s almost like your body says, Hey, don’t complain, like this guy is going to do this no matter if we tell them that we’re sore or not. And then at some point it just becomes this amazing mental exercise where you don’t just hit a wall, but you get through the wall and then you get to the next wall. And so here I am at this 100 K, and I’ve got my wife and my second oldest daughter pacing me the last 18 miles and it’s in the dark and we’re on trails and we’ve got these headlamps. And it is just it is an amazing feeling. And then every now and again, your legs say, Hey, can we quit? And so I just I don’t know, I love that. I love going to that place.

[00:15:39] How many how many of the miles do your legs or how many of the kilometers.

[00:15:45] Are.

[00:15:46] Your legs saying, let’s quit? That is so.

[00:15:49] Funny. Usually it’s early on I’m playing this mental game where I want to ask everybody around me in the first ten miles, Hey, are you like certain? Are your legs certain? Are your legs certain? But then I don’t. And then I feel like about 15, 20 miles in. That’s just what it is. And you just settle it in for the long haul. So you actually accompanied me on a nine mile climb that that was in the middle of the day. It was about 90 degrees and it was exposed. And I ran out of water. And and in those moments and I think that this is something I like to talk to with my clients as well. My wife is she’s a cyclist. And she had told me training once that this this cycling coach told her, never make an important decision while you’re going uphill, because when you’re going uphill, you are done. This is dumb. Why am I doing this? It doesn’t really matter. All I get is a t shirt and I’m done. And then as soon as you press that peak and maybe even go on a little downhill, then this is the greatest one with nature. And so I have clients that I feel like when they are just in those really tough spots or when they want to make those really difficult decisions or ones that are really going to affect them. Even to the point of when we’re talking about people with suicidal ideation and trying to get them from not trying to make that decision when they’re going up a hill.

[00:16:59] Yeah. I mean, isn’t that essentially what recovery is? Because in the beginning you feel so hopeless, you believe, yeah, it worked for other people and I’m different. It’s not going to work for me. The missing, whatever it is that you’re your compulsive behavior or substance was, you will never feel the missing as acutely. You will in the beginning, and then before you know it, you got your legs underneath you. Yes. And then all of a sudden, this view comes in of your life, the world around you, your place in it, and you realize, oh, my God, I’m so glad I stuck with it.

[00:17:38] Yes, that was perfect. And it’s funny because I do a lot with pornography addiction and compulsive sexual behavior. When I have guys that are coming in and they’re going to lose a jobs, marriages, you name it, and they come in and this is a coping mechanism they’ve been doing daily or multiple times a day for who knows how long. And oftentimes they even say, okay, I guess we can get to the point where I’m not doing it as much. And it’s but they don’t have any hope of putting those things to bed for long periods of time. And I just want to hug them and say, trust this process, right? You can do this. Yeah.

[00:18:11] It feels so real, though, especially with sex or love addiction, because that those drugs that are in your brain are more powerful, you know, than heroin. And the pharmacy is open 24 hours and you know how to pick the lock. And it’s it’s agonizing. I know people in recovery from sex and love addiction who have overcome heroin addiction said that heroin has nothing on sex and love addiction.

[00:18:41] So I’m doing some some training for partners who have been through if their spouse has been a sex addict. So the trauma caused the partners. And just today we were on a training with Dr. Kevin Skinner, who’s wrote a he’s written a bunch of books about that. And he was talking exactly about cocaine and the where the pornography addiction, the part of the brain that that affects. Those guys are best friends. They got rooms right next door to each other.

[00:19:04] So they do. Yeah. When you meet people in recovery whose primary drug was coke or crack, there is almost always it seems like a acting out sexually went along with it.

[00:19:16] Yeah yeah. Which is just wild. That is the I was going to say the other part to that with the addiction piece is when you have interviewed people, what are the biggest struggles that you see when people they have some sobriety underneath them and then they go off the wagon.

[00:19:33] Not knowing what their.

[00:19:33] Triggers are? Yes.

[00:19:35] And thinking that they can handle those triggers because they don’t want to surrender more deeply to the reality of the power that their addiction has over them. And it may just even be a case of you need to stay away from that thing for your first six months or a year. Yeah, until you get some momentum going. But if we go back to that analogy of climbing the mountain, ignoring what your triggers are as you’re climbing that mountain is like saying, well, I’ll I’ll choose the path up the mountain that has the black bears running down at me as well. Yeah, yeah. Like now you got enough cut out for you. But when we’re in that place where we’re in withdrawal and we’re feeling so empty and our disease is just looking for any tiny bit of oxygen to breathe, it will take it anywhere it can get it. And that can just trigger that release of whatever the chemicals are and then wanting more of them.

[00:20:38] Yeah, exactly. And I have to say, when I went back to school, I was in computer software for a decade and that wasn’t doing it. So I went back to follow this this path to be a therapist. And I remember even on one of the first days of graduate school, my instructor said, you’re going to get to a point where you have seen everything hundreds of times and you’re going to want to just tell the person, Just do this. But that’s not where they’re at. This is their journey. And and I feel like that with those triggers. So I work with clients and we try to identify trigger and then there’s this pattern, right? Trigger thought action. But once, you know, we work with those triggers, once that thought comes, we’re trying to put distance between thought and action. But I always use this. Are you a Star Wars fan?

[00:21:20] I watched the first one, but I haven’t seen much of the other ones. Well, just.

[00:21:24] That concept of a tractor beam. I feel if they’ve ignored the trigger and then there’s the thought and we haven’t put any distance between action, then you get locked into that tractor beam and then it’s, you know, you’re headed toward the action. So yeah. And then I feel like at times all I am is and I say this lovingly, but almost an excuse killer. So it’s the people like you say that feel like, you know, I’m ignoring that trigger. That one’s really not that bad. Or if that one comes up, I’m not too worried. And then I have so many thoughts that come to mind of I had this executive, corporate executive that was acting out in his office, and so he had his computer screen was facing away from the door. And so when we finally identified that as his go trigger and then the thought in action, I’m like, Hey, flip the desk around. And he’s like, I can’t do that. Because then people will see confidential data on the screen and your office is 30 feet long. I don’t think anybody has that good of a vision that they’re going to be able to spot that, flip that desk around and let’s say let’s knock that excuse down.

[00:22:18] Yeah. Yeah. Because it’s. Think more than anything. Yeah.

[00:22:23] Yeah. Hey. So get back to the deep dove. I also thought I had never heard until I was really looking at the last couple of days that you were sitting there looking at you were staring at premed and. Yeah, okay. Yeah. You would have been a very funny doctor, right?

[00:22:38] I think I would have been a very unhappy you know, I’ve always loved science, but I just felt like there was something inside me that needed expressing and that I was just choosing that path because it seemed safe. And I thought, I’m not married, I don’t have kids. My parents had always said, Do something that you love. And generally, usually the money will follow because you’ll do it well. And so I changed my major. But yeah, I was getting ready to take the MCATs. I was a junior in college and I had really good grades, but something, something in me snapped.

[00:23:10] And it was that. Did you turn to stand up at that point or was that you into acting or it was I theater.

[00:23:17] Yeah. Okay.

[00:23:18] Okay. And I have to ask you as well, while well, we mentioned the word doctor, have you watched the show, The Good Doctor yet?

[00:23:24] I have not. Is it good?

[00:23:26] Yeah, it’s pretty good. I love it. I work with a lot of high functioning autistic clients. And so there the guy is a high functioning autistic doctor. And I think it’s got some potential for some serious Saturday Night Live skits. But I mean, you know, because he always does a nice look away and it seems like it’s about 5 minutes while he’s has this view of the body and what’s going on. And I feel like that might not be so helpful for the patient, but.

[00:23:48] Right. Yeah, yeah. I would imagine there’s more than a few doctors that are on the spectrum and really, you know, when that person is so horrible. Yeah. And I experienced this a lot as a kid because I have a lot of operations and stuff and some were on my genitals and it was getting a doctor that had no compassion or bedside manner was really traumatizing. Really traumatizing.

[00:24:16] And I know this isn’t maybe where I was planning on going.

[00:24:19] But so I.

[00:24:20] Do as a male therapist I work with, I’ve lost track of the doctors, attorneys, CPAs, all the good manly jobs. And I have found there’s there’s doctors on the spectrum. And then I also find that I work with a fair amount of people that maybe have a nice little dose of a personality disorder, a little sprinkling of narcissism in there, which.

[00:24:38] Oh, my God. Yeah, I have a friend who’s a doctor. And he said it is the number of surgeons that are narcissists is just stunning.

[00:24:50] Yeah. Yeah, that’s what I find, too. So, I don’t know, chicken or the egg. Yeah. Hey, can I ask you so this is a little bit this is some of the stuff that I had, hey, if we had time. But when you talked about doing what you love and the money you’ll follow, and that’s you’re a great example of that. I feel like I had to get to that point. And I love, absolutely love what I do. I’m also a huge comedy nerd and I love listening to interviews with comedians. And that’s how I found you back in the day in particular, when you were doing a little bit of Republican Representative Richard Martin. And which, by the way, do you remember obviously the tagline of what was what his I don’t know, his mission statement was. It always kind of was.

[00:25:24] Was it is an American neat or was it different?

[00:25:26] No, I love that one. I had the one jotted down where he hopes to spread spread hope to suburban couples having trouble affording a second, second home.

[00:25:34] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then and then the line that’s been added is, I hope you never have to see a fella in an Adirondack chair lose the will to live.

[00:25:44] Oh, I miss him. I do. I miss him. But so in a lot of those interviews, I would hear this concept of never have a plan B that these comedians are actors have said never have a plan B, because then you’ll fall back on that and you won’t go after the plan A, what are your thoughts on that?

[00:25:59] I think it’s a personal decision for each person. I think some people need that and I think other people need the reassurance that if this doesn’t work out, that they can do something else. Or just like some writers need a deadline. If I get a check from somebody to do a project, it will get done. If it’s up to me to do it, it’s very up in the air whether or not it’ll be done because I can procrastinate like nobody’s business. Yeah, for me it was I wasn’t. I didn’t have a plan B in mind, but that might have also been because I started achieving a decent amount of success out of the gate, and not necessarily because I was great. It was more because the time was the late eighties and comedy clubs were exploding and they needed comedians. I couldn’t have picked a better time financially to get into comedy, so I don’t have much personal experience with thinking about that. But actually, now that I think of it, my dad had said to me when I changed my major to theater, I’m just so worried because I don’t think you have the skin of the thick enough skin to handle show business. And I remember probably my first two years in it just plowing through out of spite. Sure. Just to prove him wrong. But he said, if you ever change your mind, I will be willing to pay for you to go to medical school. So I suppose I did have. That. But I had zero desire to go back and and do that.

[00:27:25] That’s a great I love that story. It’s a great example of I am a I love mindfulness. I preach it to pretty much all of my clients. I practice it. But I have this book that I picked up on one of the audible daily deals called The Upside to Your Dark Side, or have you heard of that one? And it’s it speaks to what you how you use what your dad said, let’s say. And it’s okay during the divorce, you all of a sudden want to get the six pack abs. If that’s what motivates you, then go for it. And, and, and that’s helped a lot of clients, I think, because sometimes they feel like they shouldn’t want do something for these reasons that aren’t completely from within. So.

[00:28:00] Right. Yeah, I think if the overall goal is personal growth being more spiritual, finding more peace, being a better citizen. Yeah, maybe the little narcissistic side routes along the way. Yeah. Give your give yourself those.

[00:28:15] And I and I always crammed that back into my emotional baseline theory. If that bit of self care raises your emotional base even just a little bit, you’re going to make better decisions from a higher plane. So, yeah, I’ll take that. Hey, I want to talk about the mental illness. Happy hour over 351 352 episodes at this point.

[00:28:31] Yeah, yeah, I believe so.

[00:28:33] It’s amazing. And I found it early. I had become a fan of yours, I think, on it. Heard you on the Adam Corolla show and maybe even never not funny or some of those kind of things. And then find your podcast. And so you have interviewed comedians, actors, musicians, doctors, therapists, psychologists, people who have escaped cults, attempted suicide, hear voices, you name it, you’ve covered it. And I know I feel like I’m now I’ll get clients that have already been to a couple of other therapists, and they come in that first session and they think, Man, I don’t want to have to go over the story again. But, you know, are you okay? Kind of telling me a little bit about what what really got you excited about the podcast and how you got it started?

[00:29:13] Yeah, well, I went off my meds in late 2010 and normally when I would try to go off my meds within a month or two, I would know whether or not it was a good idea. And of course it was always not a good idea.

[00:29:25] I was going to say, Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Okay.

[00:29:27] And for me, it’s a personal decision for everybody. But I so I tried again and after two or three months I felt great and I thought, I don’t need them anymore. And then at about five months, I started feeling hopeless again. But I believe that it was my life circumstances. I couldn’t see that it was the depression. And I started just thinking about suicide all the time and feeling like my life was really over. And I will never be able to experience joy or peace ever again. And then one day it hit me, Oh my God, this is the depression coming back. And I thought, Wow, I believe that mental illness is a real thing. I go to therapy, a psychiatrist, support groups, and I was fooled by it. Somebody has to talk about this, but in a way that isn’t kind of dry, academic or precious and new agey. And and I thought the template of support groups or just conversations between two friends or one minute you’re laughing at the most screwed up dark joke, and then the next minute you’re both vulnerable and crying. Yeah. And I thought, if I can create a podcast that kind of gives that vibe, that would bring a lot of comfort to people. Because I’m not a professional. I can’t give people the answers, but what I can give them is the feeling that they’re not alone.

[00:31:02] You can tell people they’re not alone, but when they hear a story and I experienced this in support groups, when I hear somebody’s story, I feel I’m not alone. And there’s a difference between. Because, you know, the emotions and the intellect and the so often you go to see a psychiatrist and it’s all intellectual for that good therapist, as you know, will help you process your emotions, help you feel seen and heard and comforted. And yes, there will be an intellectual component in there where they say here’s what might be going on, etc., etc.. But ultimately it’s about processing emotions and you need shoulders to to lean on. And I thought, I think I could be that. I think I could balance the dark and the light in a way that might be compelling to people and be helpful. And I had no idea if it would work. I didn’t intend to ever make a dime from it. I was still doing dinner in a movie and still going on the road and doing standup, and it just took off and I realized, Wow, I don’t want to be on TV anymore. Fortunately, the industry agreed with me.

[00:32:19] You’re using the concept of the secret. You were kind of making that happen, right? Yeah.

[00:32:24] Yeah. And excuse me, I had no desire to go to comedy clubs anymore. Okay? I still do my Republican character every once in a while, but that’s not really the act that I would go do in comedy clubs. Sure. And I thought, this is where I’m meant to be. This is this feels like everything I’ve gone through in my life was necessary for me to be able to be this host and do this show and have these insights and provide this safe space and this empathy and this humor.

[00:32:54] Yes.

[00:32:54] And so that’s kind of how it came about. I started it in March of 2011.

[00:33:00] And it’s been amazing. I think as a professional, I go to it when I see an expert on there or a client that’s similar to what I’ve dealt with. There have been a couple of times where maybe I’ve gotten behind on the pod and then I will go search for even a particular mental illness that you’ve interviewed somebody about professionals, I think go to it. I’ve sent plenty of clients there. And I just love what you were saying earlier about I like to say in sessions we’ve got logical brain and we’ve got emotional brain and they’re often on the same bus. And who are we going to let drive and and where? And sometimes I’m saying the emotional brain, it needs to sit in the back and not like where the cool kids sit on the seat with the little bump in the side and where we can beat up. And he needs to be quiet or it’s sometimes they can even drive together, but that that battle of logical and emotional brain is going just all the time.

[00:33:45] All the time. That one of my biggest fears when I started it was that I was just going to get a shitstorm from mental health professionals saying, What are you doing? What you do not belong in this arena. And so every episode I say this is a place for honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive negative thinking. It is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I am not a therapist. It’s not a doctor’s office. It’s more like a waiting room. That doesn’t suck. So I figured if I could put that out there, then people would know where I was coming from, that I wasn’t trying to fix people, that I wasn’t trying to pretend to have all the answers.

[00:34:34] And you’ve done a beautiful job. You really have. And that’s why this is what a treat to talk to you about this, too. I have to ask you, too. So when you get stopped on the street, are people either are you getting more of they are going to tell you a joke or are they going to tell you about a problem? It is okay. Yeah. Okay. And was that a transition over time is the.

[00:34:52] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Also in Los Angeles, people tend to stop you less because there’s so many people that are recognizable. But yeah, I somebody came up to me in a coffee shop the other day and what somebody that I know from the business and and she was having problems with a daughter who had just been recently diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She was acting out in such and such. And I said, I know that it’s an incredibly complex personality disorder. It’s really intense for the person experiencing it. It’s really baffling for the family members and the loved ones. I highly recommend, from what I’ve heard, you were getting dialectical behavior therapy and you guys doing family sessions so that you can learn how her brain is working and she can learn how to communicate what’s happening in her brain to you guys so that things don’t escalate when there is intense feelings. And I bumped into her about six months later and she said it’s helped so much. And she found a great therapist who has helped give her child ways of expressing what it is that she’s feeling so that people can understand her and vice versa. And that would. Such a good feeling. I don’t think of myself as the solution. I think of myself as the cheerleader for you guys, that people in the trenches with the education and the expertize to grind it out every day. I have so much respect for what you guys do.

[00:36:34] It’s kind, okay, so I have so many things and I want to be respectful for your time too. I’m curious about just from a mindfulness standpoint because you talk about that quite a bit as well. I still will. I feel like when I’m preaching mindfulness to clients that I need to get my robe on and I’m bald, you know, little attachment, ponytail. And we’re going to sit on the floor and and I have this overall feel that about 25% of my clients are going to just completely to me out or maybe 25% are going to try it a little bit. And they’re going to tell me that the concepts are pretty good and then are know actually that’s my 50% and then 25% will embrace it and say it’s the greatest thing ever. And what is your mindfulness practice and how has that benefited you?

[00:37:14] Well, I like to joke that a lot of times meditation is just me thinking about myself with my eyes closed, because honestly, some days that’s what it is. But I somebody in one of my recovery groups had learned transcendental meditation and I had noticed a difference in her. She used to be wound really tight, talking a mile a minute, and she seemed to have slowed down. And I was like, What’s changed? And she said, I learned transcendental meditation. And I said, You know, how how can I learn it? And she said, As luck would have it, I’ve just been certified to teach it. And so I went to her house two days in a row and she gave me a mantra and told me how you want to sit and you want to have your shoes off and you want to be resting, sitting upright, but not stiff, relaxed, comfortable. You could be in a chair and you just think of your mantra. You just in your mind, you say your mantra, and it’s usually just a nonsensical phrase in I don’t know if it’s Sanskrit or Hindu or whatever, but it has no meaning to it. So your brain is able to wind down. It keeps your brain from doing the dance it does from jumping from one thought to the next at light speed.

[00:38:31] And of course your mind is going to wander. And she said, when it wanders, just bring it back to your mantra. It’s normal. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad meditator. Don’t assign any meaning to it. And after a couple of days, I began to notice a difference. And I began to notice that I didn’t feel like the clock in the opening of 60 Minutes that I used to feel like that in everything I did. I was three steps behind the universe and I had to catch up to everybody. And there was a sense of rushing and almost everything I did. And all of a sudden it wasn’t like that as much. And I realized, Wow, there is something to this. So I do it. I do it every morning. I’ve gotten away from doing it in the afternoon. I really wish I would get back into doing it twice a day, but that’s how it works for me. And it, it helps introduce me to what I’m putting emphasis on because if I’m getting away from my mantra nine times in a row over the same thing, then it’s hard for me to disagree with the truth that, wow, you’re really worried about this upcoming thing or et cetera.

[00:39:42] Okay, and so have you. And I don’t know Tim as well as I know, so I do headspace good old to just turn to the breath but in headspace there’s a big component of just the awareness.

[00:39:53] Try to. Oh, did you write it? Okay.

[00:39:54] What’d you think?

[00:39:56] You know, I liked it. It doesn’t work for me because I don’t like hearing somebody voice when I’m meditating. But if you don’t mind hearing somebody’s voice, I think it’s tremendous. The guy has a soothing voice. It’s not too precious. I think that’s where a lot of people get turned off from Eastern stuff, as it’s just been polluted by these stereotypes of people in robes and gurus abusing their power. And it’s it’s really nothing more than just clearing your mind and chilling.

[00:40:29] Can I say I don’t want to. I was about to say the book, but I don’t want to if people love it. But again, another one of these audible download of the days, it was a book about mindfulness and the whole book, I stuck with it for about an hour, but it was basically, Hey, when you’re driving in the car and you stop at a stoplight, that’s the time to turn to the breath. When you see a squirrel on the side of the road, that’s the time to turn to the breath. When you that was the whole book. Everything was just everything in your life. Turn to the breath. Turn to the breath. And I mean, I get it. But in the same breath, in the same breath, I can see why that would give it a bad rap. But I also have to tell you, I was at a I was at an NBA summer league game in Vegas. And I’ve got this kid behind me just hammering my chair. His feet are just going to town and I just listen to this book. And I had made fun of the book and and I turn around and I do the super passive aggressive look. The dad say, Hey, can you knock it off? And then Dad stared at his phone, of course, and so just joked jokingly. I tell myself every time this kid hammers the back of my chair is a time to turn to my breathing when I’m even like, Yeah, right. And so he started doing it. And I just start going in through the nose, out through the mouth, and I swear to you, at work. So then I had to stop making the wow, I know, right? But so that was the ultimate test. And then at some point we got up and left. But for that moment, it was beautiful. It really was.

[00:41:43] And isn’t that really what life is about is just finding a way to cope with the moment?

[00:41:48] Yes, yeah, yeah. And not letting your mind get away from you. And that’s so that’s what I was going to ask too. So on in Headspace they do a lot with just awareness and just observing the thoughts in your brain and not giving them any significance. Is that a part of the team as well? The transcendental meditation?

[00:42:03] Yes. Okay. Not judging your thoughts, just letting them flow downstream.

[00:42:07] Okay. And not to force a topic into here, but at the beginning I think of the Greg Behrendt podcast, which was hilarious, which I love. I love that I did a special pod on Tragedy in Vegas and How to Talk to Your Teens and Process Trauma. And basically, I was trying to tell parents to let your teenagers have a voice and don’t shut down their thoughts and don’t make them feel stupid about them and that sort of thing. But I actually went back and typed up what you said, which I loved, where you said the media essentially talking a lot but not doing a lot to address the core issues. And but you talked about how we wait until something awful happens. And there’s this flurry of observations, nothing concrete. The media pumps out sentimentality, porn and but you said get underneath how it’s happening. Can’t take mental health out of the equation. But I loved what you summed it up with was we don’t teach kids or parents how to deal with their emotions. And a lot of people don’t understand that they’re not bad thoughts or emotions, but it’s what it’s you.

[00:43:01] Can do with them. Yeah.

[00:43:02] And I think that so many people don’t that’s the part they don’t necessarily understand. So what does that mean to you?

[00:43:09] So many times I’ll get I’ll read a survey or I’ll have a guest who shares that when they were a kid, their parents would shame them for crying. You know, they would tell them, don’t feel that, don’t feel well. We can’t control what we’re feeling. We can only choose how to express it. Or they’ll tell you don’t think that which is the exact opposite. You know, it’s as you know it’s one of the ways that intrusive thoughts in room and comment because it gives you more weight to it it’s just like the child who you’re constantly praising their their body every day you are pushing them towards an eating disorder because you are over emphasizing the importance of their their physical body in terms of their self worth. And it’s really about prioritizing and learning how to express. But we live in the dark ages emotionally. And it is we like to think that we’re so modern because we can watch TV on our phone, but we don’t even know how to. We were taught algebra and we weren’t taught how to say. I’m feeling something or a healthy way of coping with it. We don’t teach kids what does abuse look like? So kids grow up with an abusive parent thinking, Well, I must really be a horrible person. And then they internalize that. And then you have to spend 20 years in therapy on doing that thing that if you had known, you would have identified early on. I’ve got an abusive parent. Maybe there’s somebody else I need to talk to or whatever. Just are the options. The options are so limited for people dealing with an overwhelming life. And I mean, my God, you throw in then all the stuff that’s happening in our world. Yeah, it’s a pressure cooker. It’s a pressure cooker.

[00:45:00] So of course, we need a way to be able to express anything that’s going through our head and then not having that judgment with it. I had a new teenager client today and I love I get to make this little speech that I think puts him a little bit at ease. And it’s and I’m not a big all or nothing statement guy but I have never had a teenager that hasn’t told me that their parents have said, Hey, buddy, I want you to be able to come and tell me anything. You come to me with any problem. I’m here for you. And then a week later the kid says, Hey, I got an F or I smoked pot or whatever, and then the parent just goes off the just goes insane. And then what does that teach the kid? It’s like, Well, I’m not bringing you anything again. I can’t trust that that’s not a safe place. Yeah, yeah.

[00:45:36] Yeah. Oh, go ahead. Yeah, yeah. So many parents make it about themselves.

[00:45:40] Yes, exactly. And whether it’s what they and I use this phrase, I got to get my almost probably the explicit thing on my podcast. But I say when you get you don’t want to get should on so people are you should do this you should do this and when you start feeling should on then one of the natural reactions is to push back and man, what a bad message to teach. It’s instead of listening to what somebody else is thinking or feeling or what to do with that.

[00:46:05] After the after the Columbine thing, many years ago, somebody was interviewing Marilyn Manson and they said, if you were the parents of those two kids that had done that and you had found out before they did it, what would you have told them? And you said, I wouldn’t have told them anything. I would have listened.

[00:46:23] Oh, that’s beautiful. Yeah, that’s beautiful. Hey. Hey, I know you’re almost out. You have a hockey game tonight, right?

[00:46:30] I do. I do.

[00:46:31] I love I just I have to tell you, I have a daughter that it’s my skating lessons. And the hockey guys would come in after there’s a hockey arena just a couple of miles away from my office. And when you guys put on all that stuff, you’re giants.

[00:46:42] Right? Yeah, it’s. And it’s heavy. My bag of equipment probably weighs £50, so. Yeah, you’re about two inches taller and about £50 heavier, but it’s such a great sport.

[00:46:53] I love it. Well, so then and I was thinking about back to when talking about this emotional baseline, is that does that fall under self care for you? How often do you play hockey and is it something that brings your baseline up?

[00:47:03] Oh, absolutely. It’s one of the most important things in my life. I play 2 to 3 times a week. It’s also social for me because it’s the same group of guys and it’s there’s something about getting together. With a group of people with a shared goal and supporting each other that I really love. Then you throw in, you’re getting endorphins. You get to express yourself physically. You get to have positive feelings about your body. Instead of negative feelings. You get to learn how to lose with dignity. I have had so many insights during or after hockey games. One that I had recently is we were losing like 10 to 2 and I was taking it personally and I realized, you know, the way the universe works is sometimes you’re the one in the sunshine and the other time you’re the one holding the door open for the other person to go in the sunshine and to expect to be the one who always gets to go outside in the sunshine is unrealistic. And so I looked up in the stands and somebody was really excited that this guy was scoring goals. And I thought maybe that guy had had a horrible week. Maybe he and his girlfriend had been fighting and they just made up and she came out to see his hockey game for the first time and they’re feeling closer than ever and they’re having a magical night.

[00:48:30] That’s okay. That is that is nice. Nice shift in perspective, because I think I would just want to win.

[00:48:38] It’s a battle. It is a battle, Tony, between my ego and because one of the ways that one of the few ways my dad expressed interest and joy towards me was when I would win pitching in baseball.

[00:48:53] Yeah.

[00:48:54] Okay. So I think something about that is and I’m afraid of disappointing my teammates and being talked about, oh my God, we’ve got to get him off the team, etc., etc..

[00:49:04] Hey, a couple more minutes if you’re okay. I’m curious. I wrote down a couple of my favorite episodes and Maria Bamford, I mean.

[00:49:10] Amazing.

[00:49:11] And that is just one of the first times where I really felt like and I know it can sound silly, but wow, you from the outside, you just assume that she has everything funny and just but boy, she talked about such deep suicidal thoughts and being institutionalized. And I just that was one of those where I’ve been able to point a few people to that episode in particular and just how amazing that was.

[00:49:35] You know, she and she shines a light on it, which can always, always help. Yeah, it’s so helpful to talk about just today I’ve been going through it’s too long to go into, but I’ve been dealing with a lot of shame lately and, and I’ve just been on the phone talking with people and there’s probably two or three people that I talked to today that are going through the same thing, which is going to that I’m not good enough, etc., etc.. And it helped, it really helped to talk about it. It just didn’t make it go away, but it took some of the power out of it and I felt less alone. Kind of like what my podcast hopefully does.

[00:50:12] Absolutely. Yeah. And I have to say as well, one of the I remember one of the episodes that stuck with me the most, too, was it was it was Dr. David Hiroshima. Do you remember that great episode?

[00:50:23] Yeah.

[00:50:24] And it’s one of those things where I’ve got a lot of a lot of good old family folks listening to my podcast. And that is not one I would necessarily say if you’re not a big fan of talking about mental health, that might be a tough one to jump into. But he basically worked with rapists and child molesters in a lock down facility outside of Coalinga. And first of all, it’s Coalinga. Isn’t that the place where all the cows are or is that just.

[00:50:45] The smelliest place on earth?

[00:50:47] So is it your and I didn’t go back and listen this, but is there a possibility that in your podcast was where I first heard the name couch sweats or.

[00:50:56] It would have been somebody else? Because I don’t recall hearing that before, but I have a terrible memory, but I don’t think I use that term. But somebody else might have. Yeah.

[00:51:07] Okay. All right. I had heard that one, though. And, you know, and that one even too. When you’re driving through Coalinga, even if you have the we will put the recirculated air on miles ahead, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to be smelling that stuff, right?

[00:51:19] Coalinga will kill a good mood unlike anything else. Yeah.

[00:51:23] And I love it. I was one time driving with a buddy, and the window was down. He’s asleep, his mouth open. And I wasn’t about to wake him up either. And I was willing to take that one just to be able to for him to wake up halfway through that and experience a mouthful of that. Clearly, it was beautiful. Like, I’ll never forget that. But I think if you remember much about that episode or what was that.

[00:51:43] What do yeah, so do what was that.

[00:51:45] Like to interview someone like that. That was the part for me.

[00:51:48] Was fascinating. Yeah. Okay, fascinating. I’ve always been drawn to darkness and oddly, I find comfort in hearing the stories of other people not hurting people, but seeing that other people have it far worse in terms of their dark thoughts or their dark urges. So in a way, it’s kind of selfish. It’s like sometimes I’ll watch a Hitler documentary to feel better about myself. So so narcissistic. But it it just reassures me that I’m not the worst person in the world, that my problems aren’t the worst problems in the world, because I need that perspective every day. It’s why I go to support groups.

[00:52:30] Yeah, I love that. I do. And I thought, what was this? And here’s where my train of thought went with. That was when he talked about basically needing to get out of that job because of the emotional toll. And then my train of thought takes me to I have a nice practice, I love what I do, but sometimes at the end of the day, I send my wife a text and I just say I’m stuck because trying to process a lot emotionally. And I’m curious, how has that been for you? There’s this great feeling of the service you’re providing, which I am so grateful for and so are my clients. But what’s.

[00:53:00] That like? It can get a little overwhelming sometimes, so I always try to make sure to not let my battery get too drained. The emails sometimes can be kind of overwhelming. Sometimes people don’t have a lot of restraint in writing what they’re going through, which I understand some people so desperately want to be heard and seen and felt and understood. I’m one of them. I don’t fault them. But from my end, when you get ten emails in a row where somebody is listing five pages of trauma and they are losing hope, I can only take so much. Sure. So I try to respond to every one. But there reaches a point where I have to start reading quickly and my responses have to get shorter. But I try to let them know that they’re not alone and that it’s really important that they seek help and not try to deal with this on their own. And I don’t feel guilty for doing that because I know if I’m drained, I worthless as a host and a friend and etc., etc..

[00:54:01] Okay, so I’ve done an episode on the these inappropriate thoughts syndrome. Is that is it bad for me to admit that while you were saying that I wanted to throw a joke in there about do you ever want to just reply with unsubscribe? Is that bad? Is that bad?

[00:54:16] That’s fantastic. That is fantastic.

[00:54:19] But I don’t say that. I didn’t say that out loud. Right.

[00:54:22] Oh, God. I just had one the other day and I’m trying to remember what it was. And I was like, Oh, I have to share this with somebody. Yeah, at least once a week. I think of a joke that I cannot share publicly but is so hilarious, and there’s about six or eight people that I know would love it.

[00:54:42] And yeah, I’ll tell you what you got. You’ve got my email address now. Any time you send that, I mean, those things go through my head all the time. They do all the time. When I think, don’t say it, don’t say it. Don’t say it, you know? Yeah, yeah. Hey, I’ll let you go. I know you’ve got a hockey game to go to, but I cannot even thank you enough. I was. And I will wait. I will not. But maybe in a couple of years, if I get back on, I’d love to do a feature off, a level off. That was all you do with it. I love that. That’s great. But your podcast is has done so much good and I really appreciate it. And it’s helped me become a better clinician. And it’s and it’s just helped so many of my clients normalize a lot of what they’re going through. And so I really appreciate you doing the work and I know this can sound trite, but please let me know if I can ever help with anything for you or any of the people that you interact with.

[00:55:27] I really appreciate that. If you’re ever passing through LA or are you based in LA?

[00:55:32] I’m actually in Sacramento, but I am down there quite a bit.

[00:55:34] Yeah, yeah. Let me know next time you’re coming through and schedule permitting. We should have you come on for an episode and maybe talk about sexually compulsive behavior or some other stuff.

[00:55:44] That would be a blast. That would. That sounded funny, right? Hey, that’d be awesome.

[00:55:47] Let’s talk about child molester. Exactly.

[00:55:49] Let’s do it. Okay.

[00:55:50] I can’t wait.

[00:55:51] Hey, Paul and I’ll. And I’m going to, of course. Mental illness, happy hour. People can find you their mental podcast, any other places.

[00:55:57] That’s the main.

[00:55:58] Stuff. Okay. Thank you so much for your time and good luck tonight at the hockey game.

[00:56:02] All right.

[00:56:02] Thanks so much, Paul. Take care.

[00:56:04] Still emotions flying past. I heading out the other end. The pressures of the daily grind is wonderful and that’s the place to go.

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