Paul R. Gilmartin is an American stand-up comedian, podcast host, and television personality. He is the longtime host of TBS’s Dinner and a Movie and the presenter of The Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast.
What was your childhood like? Any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
Good from the outside, not so good on the inside. No yelling or hitting but neglect by my dad who was in his alcoholism and being the surrogate spouse for my mom, which did quite a bit of damage. Now, I’m working on it and healing.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t positive things about my family or childhood; there were many, but those are the broad strokes.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Never be afraid to ask for help. It will help you and then you will be able to help others which will help you emotionally and mentally even more.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
People that say “stick by your family no matter what”. Your family is who you decide to let into your life and just because you’re related to somebody doesn’t mean you should tolerate toxic or abusive people. It keeps us from growing and learning boundaries.
People who buy into that usually wind up taking that anger they can’t express and projecting onto somebody or something totally unrelated. I think we’re seeing this happen with the way people are voting these days. It’s emotional it’s not logical. I’ve yet to meet one person who loves our current president that has been to therapy. I’m sure they exist but I haven’t met one.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
When my alcoholism was at it’s worst and before I started taking meds. So roughly between 1999-2003. Lots of depression, anger, sadness, distorted thinking, entitlement, arrogance, selfishness and suicidal ideation.
In 2003 I finally got help and have been sober since then and take my meds because I need them.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Support groups. Especially 12 step groups. There is nothing like hearing someone’s story and realizing “I’m not alone; things CAN get better”.
What is your morning routine?
I’m a night owl so I go to bed about 4 am and get up around noon. I shower, take my meds, meditate, pray, make my bed then get to the business of worrying about everything that could go wrong ever.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Cutting toxic people out of my life.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do?
Pause, breathe and look at the big picture. I ask myself “Will this thing I’m upset about matter in 5 years?” The answer is almost always “no”.
What’s book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
A New Earth by Eckhardt Tolle. It’s such a practical guide for stepping back from your mind and your cyclical negative thoughts about yourself and the world around you.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
“Have compassion for others but not at the expense of compassion for yourself”. I had an epiphany a few years back when I had to make the painful decision to cut someone out of my life.