Author:Paul Gilmartin

Tyler Smith

Paul talks with avowed Christian and movie podcaster Tyler Smith about his recent diagnosis of depression.   Paul questions his own prejudice towards organized religion.  An inappropriate incest joke makes things nice and uncomfortable.   Probably too much talk about God, but there it is so go fuck yourself.

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Jimmy Pardo (Voted #10 Ep of 2011)

Comedian Jimmy Pardo appears for the first time as a guest.  They bust each others balls then get down to the business of being funny, and the pain and anxiety underneath it.   Note: The audio was accidentally mixed for stereo, and some people find it a little annoying.  Apologies.

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Jacuzzi-Shitters

We all know the person;  well intentioned, but a sad sack.  Everyone is having a good time and this person just can’t relate to it, so they bring up something morose or negative and kill the vibe.
I used to be one.  A Jacuzzi-Shitter.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it.  I never did it consciously.    I thought I was a person of depth because I could shamelessly change the conversation from the weather to my dad’s attempted suicide.

In hindsight, I didn’t know any better, and that’s the part that’s so hard about depression.   You don’t have anything to compare it to, so you assume everyone feels the way you do; filled with dread and a gnawing, lonely, soul-engulfing sadness that makes getting out of bed a chore.   Guess what?  They don’t.   A lot do, but most don’t.

I’m proud that I’m not that guy today, and I feel no guilt in avoiding Jacuzzi-Shitters even though I used to be one.   I’d be happy to talk to them about their sadness or depression if they ask for help and it’s at an appropriate time and place, and they’re not looking for me to be their therapist.

Part of my living successfully with depression is avoiding depressing situations that I’m not equipped or responsible for.   And none of us are responsible for someone else’s happiness.   If by being my natural self I can add to your happiness, great, but I’m not responsible for it, and it does me no good to pretend that its okay for you to unload your misery at an inappropriate place and time; Or to pretend it is okay for you to avoid seeking professional help and continue to drain non-professionals like me, because you’re too cheap or afraid.   I’ll cheer friends on, but I won’t try to save them. The more I work on myself the easier it is to set boundaries with people who have no sense of them.

It’s like there used to be some sick divining rod in me that was drawn to the negative, but I could never even see it.   I didn’t think I needed therapy.   My wife, God bless her, nudged me towards help, but it took years.  It took me wanting to kill myself to realize she might have a point.

Being “real” is dealing with your depression by seeking the appropriate help at the appropriate time and place.

There are no excuses for not getting help.   But asking for help isn’t easy, especially for men, because society has never portrayed it as strength.   Add to it the fact that two of the hallmarks of depression are difficulty opening up and difficulty making decisions.   It’s a dangerous combination.

What isn’t difficult is injecting your sadness into an unequipped group whenever you feel like it.   But it’s difficult for THEM.  And it’s Jacuzzi-Shitting.

I’ve now been opening for years to people equipped to hear me and as a result I feel great.   But it started with me getting outside my comfort zone and asking for help – from a professional.   I now know that saying, “Help me” and “I don’t know” saved my life.  It didn’t make me weaker, it made me stronger.

My hope is this site is a place where people can safely share what’s festering inside them instead of shitting the Jacuzzi.

So eat a big bowl of chili, grab your keyboard and lay some pipe.    In the meantime I’ll try to think of some more disgusting metaphors to scare visitors off.

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Grey DeLisle

Paul interviews Grey DeLisle, one of the most in-demand VO (voice over) actors in Hollywood.  She’s the voice of Daphne on Scooby Doo,  Azula on Avatar: The Last Airbender.   They talk about pervy relatives, her date with a pervy celebrity, and breaking the cycle of bad parenting.  You can follow her on Twitter @greydelisle

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Depression & Rage

I was sitting in a coffee shop, wondering what to write a blog about and I heard a man screaming at the top of his lungs. RAGING. I thought, “Oh, another actor talking to his agent.” Then a couple rode by on bikes, and the man was yelling at the woman.

I’ll bet you thought what I did. Oh, they must be a couple.

How fucked up is that? If he’s spewing that much hate, they must be in love.

I don’t know if he suffers from depression, but my guess is he does, because while I didn’t yell like that out loud, I felt that way inside. Lots of screaming while driving alone. Imagined conversations. Imagined slights. Lots of thinking about me, and never about anybody else.

I always thought my wife was the problem. Turns out it was me. I was driven by fear and felt if she didn’t act the way I wanted, my fears would be realized. Sad but true.

I know this sounds cheesy, but I’m lucky to have found a woman as patient as my wife. She knew I had a good heart but needed help. She gently encouraged me to seek it and I eventually did.

But for years, I was as angry as that guy. The difference was, I mostly kept it in. I would let it out in cold, cutting comments. But really it was just pent-up rage from self-hatred and fear of everything.

Once in a while I would let it out. In fact one time I let it out on strangers. I must have loved them. I was stuck in traffic in downtown Chicago and a bunch of pedestrians were in my way, blocking my green light and I lost my shit. I was laying on the horn, screaming out the window, frothing at the mouth. Suddenly a guy right out of 1950 – fedora, briefcase, trenchcoat – poked his head into my window about four inches from my face and with a combination of sympathy and disgust, calmly said, “Son, get a hold of yourself.” It stunned me. I had been so lost in my anger, fear, self-pity and perceived victimization, I couldn’t see myself. But Ward Cleaver did.

I have a feeling that guy on the bike is just like I was.

Mr. Cleaver was a turning point. I thought about what he said. He got through to me because he was a complete stranger. Because he wasn’t family. Because I knew he had nothing to gain, he must be telling the truth. Sometimes we discount what those closest to us say because we filter it through our experience with them.

I got into therapy shortly after that and it’s been a long haul since then, but I think back to that day often. It was a turning point. Depression doesn’t always mean moping around feeling down. Sometimes it expresses itself as rage and fear.

I’m proud to say if those pedestrians did that again today, I would not react the same. I’d gently tap the horn, smile and if they didn’t move, plow through them. Then I’d back up and repeat until tasered. I’m kidding of course. But I would fantasize about it. I may be better, but I’m still not well.

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Sad Songs

Everybody has that handful of songs that takes them back to that awful feeling of being twelve and in love with someone who doesn’t feel the same way.   Is there anything more powerful than the emotions those bring up?

I was in seventh grade and in love with Loretta Wiltgen – or what I thought was love.   We had been going together for about six months and she broke up with me.

About three months into our going out, spring break arrived and my dad thought it would be good to still not show an interest in the family but do it in a station wagon in Wyoming.   I didn’t get to see her or talk to her for ten days.    If we had had texting, I would have come home with bloody thumbs.   I remember being so “in love” with her I would scan the highway for the same GMC truck that her family had.   When I would see one, my heart would pound.   At dinner I would take her picture out of my wallet and sigh.

I came home even more “in love” with her than ever.  A couple days later, I’m minding my own business, getting ready to tear into my lunch, extra excited that I had managed to trade Carole Ferraro her Hostess Ding Dong for my banana (what the fuck was she thinking?) I had the still-wrapped Ding Dong in my hand.    Loretta’s best friend Jackie walked up to me.

“Paul, Loretta wants to break up with you.”

I couldn’t speak.    I just stared into space and squeezed the Ding Dong.

I cried for days and the songs that were popular then were forever etched in my memory, paired with those feelings.  Loving You by Minnie Ripperton, When Will I See You Again by Three Degrees, If You Leave Me Now by Chicago, Dream Weaver by Gary Wright, You are So Beautiful by Joe Cocker, I’m Not in Love by 10cc, the list goes on and on.

What’s the point of all this?  Loretta is a whore.   Sorry the wound is still a little fresh.   The point is I can know intellectually that it was just a silly, typical, adolescent event, but why do the emotions feel so REAL when I hear those songs?  And worse, why do I play them over and over while I masturbate through tears?   Okay maybe that second part isn’t true, but there is something in me that likes to relive that pain.   Why?

I think one of the side effects of depression is feeling nothing.   And subconsciously we would rather feel something shitty than nothing.
For a long time I thought that I was SUPPOSED to feel that feeling; I deserved it.   But after doing a lot of work on myself I realized I sought it out because it was better than feeling nothing.  It was sick in its reassurance that I wasn’t enough.   I was getting an answer,

The real problem was that I was stuck in my head obsessing about myself and I wasn’t treating my depression.   Those songs don’t hit me today with the impact they used to because I know that message is false.  I feel the feeling come up, and start to take hold and then I see it for what it is and its power lessens and if I’m having a good day, I chuckle.

But I also couldn’t guarantee if I was in a roller rink having trouble finding someone for couple’s skate and they played Dancing Queen, I wouldn’t cry.

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Facebook and Fame

Am I alone in feeling the digital age is cracking the whip and I can’t keep up?   Every couple of months I realize there is some new gadget, site or app everybody but me knows about.
The number of ways we can connect to each other is getting bigger but the quality with which we communicate seems to be dropping.    I always preferred a small party of close friends than a huge party of acquaintances.   Sometimes the digital age seems like a kegger with endless free beer, but a lot of douchebags.

I’m feeling the urge to rebel.    Part of me wants to cancel Facebook and Twitter and close up my websites, but I know that’s not the right solution.   I have a famous friend who no longer uses email.   I think she got tired of trying to reply to everyone who wanted something from her.  I think her solution is a little harsh, but I get it.

The little taste of fame I’ve experienced made me realize that once you get more people paying attention to you, your next dream is that a lot of people will leave you alone.
I had always imagined fame would mean intelligent, attractive people succinctly complimenting me.   In reality it’s a drunk guy with bad breath cornering you with a racist knock-knock joke.   It’s backhanded compliments at the airport.  (I like your little show.  How come they don’t let you be this funny on t.v.?  I bet this show will lead to something big!)

I’m not surprised people love Facebook.   It’s shares a lot in common with with fame.   It’s seductive and addicting.  And if we look to it to make us happier, we’re fucked.

The myth of Facebook and fame is that the more people who are aware of us, the happier and more secure we will become.   In reality more people being aware of you only increases the number of opinions about you; and the intensity of those opinions.   Fame doesn’t guarantee increased self-esteem.  In fact it rarely does, because it increases your exposure to extreme opinions about yourself, and you go back and forth between wondering which one is the truth.    Truly famous people (unlike the marginally known like me) get all the good stuff we already know about, but they are also exposed to large numbers of people plagued by hostility, jealousy, and intense neediness.

I have been smothered by people because they think I’m a big deal and I have smothered people because I think they’re a big deal.   Both situations were pathetic.   Famous people give us the fantasy that if we become their friends, some of their life will rub off on us.   I totally get why famous people would want to hide from public view.   I get invited to weddings sometimes only because I’m on television.   I have never gone because it makes me uncomfortable.  Partly because it makes me feel like a pet someone is showing off, and partly because I’m afraid I might like it.

At our core is how we feel about ourselves and I believe that’s based on whether we feel we’re a giver or a taker.   For 40 years of my life I was a taker and to avoid looking at that, I had to base how I felt by what people thought of me.  It was a mental death sentence.   One day I was the king, the next day a piece of shit.

Living a more giving life gives us the freedom from self-obsession.   Self-obsession is the most alluring and poisonous dead-end.    The irony is that to find ourselves we have to think about others; Cheesy but true.

I don’t know if I could call myself a giver, but I can say I’m more of a giver now.   And I feel a peace that fame or money never brought.   Other people’s opinions can’t change that.
I used to think that I would know I’d made it if my face was on a billboard on Sunset Blvd.  Years ago Dinner and a Movie put my face on a billboard on Sunset Blvd.   Did it make me happy?   It made me lose respect for Sunset Blvd.

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