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129: Navigating Fatherhood and Mental Health as a Veteran- Corey (Full Transcript)

Jey (00:13.877)

Alright, alright settle down, settle down. Welcome into another episode of the Young Dad Podcast. I'm your host Jay, super excited to be with you again for another episode. Episode who knows what number this will be because there's just been so many great ones. The catalog is filling up, but there's still plenty of space to go for more. Before we jump too far in, I do just want to go to everyone to go down to the description of the episode no matter what.

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So without any further ado, let me introduce who's on the screen next to me here. It's Corey. Corey, you're the host of the Your Two Dads podcast. It's a solid resource for dads, for veterans. And it's a fun show. And I've enjoyed listening to it. I've enjoyed watching the clips on Instagram. I've enjoyed your reels. It's a good time. So tell us, tell us about you. Tell us about your platform, how it got started.

Cory (02:07.781)

Oh God, I always hated this in college when they wanted me to talk about who I was. So I guess just real briefly, in terms of any relation to the podcast, I was in the army from 2000, 2004. And I never thought that I would be a dad until right around the pandemic. But we, my wife and I.

just kind of made the decision to do it just all of a sudden. And the next thing I know, I've got a son and it occurred to me pretty early on that I had a lot to learn about being a dad that my dad had not really done anything to teach me about what to do. And so there were a lot of like generational cycles slash.

curses that I was going to have to break and a lot of growing that I was going to have to do. And I figured after, you know, thinking about it for a while, that podcasting would probably be a good way for me to easily learn lessons because I already liked podcasting. I already had a podcast at the time and it's no longer going, but it was a learning experience. And I realized that I could keep it going in a different format as long as I had.

far less people to deal with. And so a buddy of mine got a different, like a different version of this podcast started and then we kind of had a fallen out. We went our separate ways and I wanted to continue. So I changed the name and got on a different co -host that lasted for a really long time. And then, you know, life got in the way and he went his, we didn't go our separate ways, but he had to step away from the podcast.

And I've just been evolving it and changing it to kind of better reflect who I am. I'm a, you know, like a veteran, as I said, and a father. So I wanted to talk to vets, talk to dads and just be a resource for them to first and foremost, get, you know, their story out there, let people know what it's like to be a veteran, to be a dad, the mental health side of that, the, you know, just every aspect of that. And.

Cory (04:30.661)

In addition, I try to have fun sometimes with top five lists or talking about Star Wars, comic books, whatever the case may be. We sit here right around the one year mark and I've got a decent following in terms of where I started because I started out with like 80 Facebook friends and now I've got...

almost as many listeners and far more followers across social media. So, you know, I'm happy with where the podcast stands in terms of growth. I'm trying to branch out with things like this, things like guest spots and things of that nature. And really further test myself because the anxiety is real. The anxiety is real every time I hit record. And I thought it would be easier with being a guest, but it's no easier. The anxiety is still there.

So that's something that I'm trying to help myself get better at. Overall, I just want the podcast. The podcast is making me a better father. It is making me a better person. And I just, my hope is this, it helps someone else do that too.

Jey (05:45.909)

Absolutely, I love that. Well, first and foremost, thank you for your service to our country. It's meaningful, it's impactful, and veterans are not appreciated nearly enough as they should be, in my own personal opinion. I was never eligible to go to serve due to health conditions, unfortunately. I knew that very early in my...

adulthood that I wasn't ever going to be medically able to I would be a big liability so I Appreciate men and women like yourself who have served made that choice did the thing because it's hard work it's hard work for those four years and So the hardest things that people can do and so I appreciate it. It goes a long way One thing that I've always read it. Oh good

Cory (06:32.837)

Well, I mean, I was just going to say like, I never know what to say other than thank you.

Jey (06:39.829)

No, of course. I mean, one thing I've always tried to instill in my kids and my daughters, because I was taught this way, like growing up when you see whenever you see a serviceman or women, whether it's a police officer, a firefighter, a paramedic or someone in the uniform, like an army uniform or a native uniform or Marine's uniform, or just, you know, the camouflage uniform of their different kinds. Or very obviously, you can tell they're servicemen or women.

I always have encouraged my kids and try to set the example to say, hey, go and say thank you for your service. That's it. Because a simple thank you can go a really, really long way to someone in the service. And I think it's so important to recognize that. My grandfathers, they were in the service. World War II, or great grandfather was in World War II. My grandfather served in Vietnam and those post World War II wars as well. So.

lot of family history of military experience, military background. In my living room, I actually have my grandpa's flag case that my grandma gave me a couple years ago. She let me have it of her late husband. So I have like the folded up flag in the case and the Bible in the Cedarwood case. And it's just really special to me because I know I know how much sacrifice that took.

to get and know how much he sacrificed and how he died super young. Like he died in 2008. He was only 50, 57 years old when he passed away because of so much like lung disease and I believe it was lung cancer that would stem from serving in Vietnam overall. So it was, I, it,

There's special meaning because I know how much sacrifice that takes for an individual, for family, for one man to go and do. I've never done it myself, but I appreciate it when I hear it. And I try to get my kids to appreciate it too, because hopefully they'll never, unless it's their choice and they want to, cool. I'm going to support these girls no matter what. If you want to go and join the military, sure, do it. Cool. Have the best time and go kick some ass. You know?

Jey (09:00.661)

If not, and that's your choice, or you want to marry someone that's in the military, cool. You know, no, no matter the way, shape or form, like I'm going to support it, of course. So I think it's important to support our servicemen and women because they need it. You know, active veterans are going through a lot. I couldn't imagine being an active veteran in today's geopolitical landscape and the craziness of that. But.

we won't jump too far down that rabbit hole because it's a deep one. It's a deep one. And so for you on your show with what you've been able to do and accomplish so far, because you're only scratching the surface, what kind of things are those like, I won't say like common themes, but help educate us about what it's like to...

be a veteran and then a dad or veteran and a dad simultaneously or dad than a veteran or veteran than a dad, whatever that mix looks like, you know what I mean? Cause it looks different for everyone, I'm sure. Whether a dad than their vet or their vet and their dad or they become a dad while they're a vet, veteran, like actively serving. So what, what does that like? What are some of the things our servicemen and our servicemen are like struggling with going through and experiencing when it comes to fatherhood and mental health?

Cory (10:24.933)

Well, you know, I think like you said, it does kind of vary depending on whether you become a veteran or a father first, you know, however it occurs. Because I think that being a veteran first will help you be better prepared for fatherhood, you know, multiple different ways, self -control and hopefully, you know, a bit of self -confidence among other things.

Uh, you know, if you're, if you're a father first before you're a veteran, then you're probably in my opinion, a father, maybe a little too early and, um, things are going to be really hard. You should definitely listen to this podcast in my own, in order to, uh, to get all the tips that you can to make things easier for you. But for myself personally, I was a veteran so long ago that the only, well, I guess I'm still, I'm always a veteran, but I was in so long ago.

that the only thing that has really stayed with me is the poor mental health. And I mean, I've been, I've been depressed since I was, I knew I was depressed at like 14 or thereabouts. Like I was like, like I learned at that time, I was like, okay, so this is how I've been feeling. This is the term for it. So whenever it started, I can't say, but I knew that it was depression around that time.

And it only got worse in the army and the army also helped me develop an anxiety issue that I've never really thanked anyone for. I should, I should get on that. But, um, thankfully here, here recently, I've kind of gotten more of a, I don't even, like, I was about to say, I've gotten more of a handle on the anxiety, but really I, I don't think I have, like I.

Jey (12:00.917)

Ha ha ha!

Cory (12:15.173)

I thought I did. And then the first time I did something that was outside of my comfort zone, I was like, Oh, there you are, my friend. Where have you been? So I don't know. Maybe I don't have a handle on it at all. Um, but anyways, you know, all that being said, it, it does make it in my opinion, harder to be a dad because dads and I'm going to, I'm kind of. Glide into some cliches here, but like I'll glide back out. Um,

Jey (12:41.877)

You're good.

Cory (12:43.941)

That dads are meant to be, you know, tough. We're meant to be rock solid, uh, you know, meant to bear any trouble or, or worry. And it, that is not the case at all. We are, we are just as human as, as we were when we were 14 or just as human as mom is or little Sally. Uh, you know, we have feelings and sometimes it's really hard to deal with those. And so it, it becomes difficult for me.

sometimes to be a strong dad when I'm going through an extended period of depression or my anxiety has spiked for whatever reason. And I don't blame the army for that necessarily. It did exacerbate or maybe out and out create the issues that I'm dealing with. But at the same time, I'm thankful for the time I spent in the army. I never regret it. I just don't want to go back.

the, um, you know, I did many, many things for me that I will always be grateful for and, uh, support anybody that wants to join. And I think it's more times than not a pretty good decision. Uh, and even if you, even if you're joining, you know, the Navy or the air force or something like that, like it's still a good decision. Um, you know, it's, uh, it's going to be, you know, really good for your, for your everything. Um, you know, not to, uh, not to be too, um, I guess melodramatic about it, but.

The, you know, even with those positives coming from the army, it still has made it hard for me to maintain, uh, you know, my, my good dad status. I struggle. Um, there are times, there are days where I'm like, well, that day was a fail. I spent way too much time on my phone. I was way too caught up in my own mind. I didn't play with my son enough. You know, I didn't, I gave him way too many snacks when I could have just.

made him something to eat because I'm lazy from being depressed or whatever the case may be. So it is, you know, it's a constant battle and I do the podcast to try and help myself to give myself an extra sword and suit of armor in my struggle. And I'm sure it helps, but you know, it doesn't make it easy. That's for sure.

Jey (15:03.925)

And I think it's so important to recognize that and to have these open and honest conversations about yourself, with yourself and with others who are walking the same walk, you know, because, you know, as you probably well found out at this point, you know, talking to veterans, talking to other dads who are veterans, you guys are walking a similar path, you know, you're walking the similar life and trying to get through it and...

It could feel real lonely. You know, I can only imagine for myself, just being a dad going through divorce and being single for a really long time before meeting my now wife. Um, like it's, it's a lonely, lonely path. Like even when I could remember just how I would joke about it and I shouldn't have joked about it, but I did to cope with it at the time was after my divorce, probably at the time of my divorce, I was about two 30.

I was crazy heavy, heaviest I've ever been. Like I was just, I was just not in a good shape at all. I didn't feel good, nothing. And a lot of it, I think, were the side effects of the marriage, of the depression and things I felt like while in the marriage trying to battle it out, tough it out towards the end there. That caused a lot of it. Stress, depression, all the things caused it. And then...

post the divorce, I just, I lost it. I lost everything, not monetarily, not physically or anything like that. Like I didn't lose like my home. I didn't lose my kids. I didn't lose my dog. Um, actually got to keep the dog that we had. The dog was mine because I was like, well, I have, she's my registered service animal, my registered emotional support animal. So get fucked. Um, pretty much, but, um,

Cory (16:43.557)


Cory (16:52.549)


Jey (16:55.445)

I had lost a ton of weight. I went from one to I went from 230 down to 175 in the span of a few months, which was crazy unhealthy. Don't do that, people, because I was maybe eating. I was maybe eating a meal a day. I was drinking exorbitant amounts of caffeine just to get me through because I didn't I didn't want to sleep when I slept. I cried.

Cory (17:12.324)


Jey (17:25.237)

When I woke up, I cried. When I didn't have my kids, I cried. Or I stayed up for hours upon hours upon hours upon hours playing video games, watching YouTube, watching videos, staying up. I isolated myself so hard. Like I had friends who were reaching out. I just ignored them. I ignored every call. I ignored every text. I ignored everyone. I didn't even tell my family what was happening.

My family who's all been through divorce, who's all been through it, who's all been Who has all happened to you know, I literally went and seen my family Within a month after the separation and the divorce like starting and initiating. I didn't say a word. I didn't say nothing While I was there with them Went to a Mariners game status quo. I lied to all of them. They're like where is she? I'm like, oh she had to work

getting stuff, she couldn't get it off, so I just decided to cut myself. Bold face lie. Just straight up. And then I, it was the drive back home after that weekend, I stayed there and I was like, hey, look, this is actually what's going on. I didn't want to say nothing while I was there. I couldn't, I couldn't think of the words. I didn't know how to say it. I didn't want to ruin the weekend and the fun or anything like that. And it took me a really long time just to come to grips and to terms with everything.

Um, but I lost that exorbitant amount of weight and I would joke that it's like, they're like, man, you look, my coworkers were like, man, you're losing like a lot of weight. You look really good. Like, what are you doing? I'm like, oh, it's a depression. Um, I'm like, it's a depression. Um, and they're like, oh, are you okay? I'm like, yeah, no, I'm great. I'm so good. I didn't tell my coworkers what was going on. Um,

Cory (19:04.933)


Jey (19:17.173)

Because it's work. I don't like, I try not to mix work and personal, at least at the time I did it. Now it's a little bit different and I'm a lot more comfortable with myself and what I share and I know how to keep things separate and mix and co -mingle a lot better than I did at that time in general. But no, it was, depression is a real thing, man. It's tough. It's really hard. It's really difficult.

I'm gonna cough, hold on.

Jey (19:50.965)

And if you just let it go on address, like now I work in mental health, now I'm a mental health clinician. I see it every day. Just how it affects people and it affects everyone so drastically differently. It affects men different than it affects women. Women, I feel, are more of that.

kind of stay in, stay away and just kind of stay in bed, get through it until it passes kind of thing. Well, then we will just keep going. We won't take that time to stop to process, to get through it, to let it pass. Like we will just keep going. And essentially that can help. But normally it doesn't. It can normally make it worse because we're adding more to it.

Because if you already are going to work, let's say, and you're already feeling super depressed, you barely get out of bed, you're already going to be short tempered, you probably didn't sleep well, so you're already going to be less productive than you could have been interacting with others. And then you're going to go to work and you're going to go through the array of work issues. You're probably going to say something to someone that you probably shouldn't. Probably going to be a bit more short tempered, work quality is going to be lower and it's going to be rougher.

You're a little bit more snappy and things like that. And then you're going to come back home and then guess what's going to happen. You're going to come home and then either it's going to be let out on your family loudly or silently. By that, I mean, you're going to either lash out. It's going to go out on your significant other. It's going to go out towards your kids, yelling, screaming, fighting, arguing, hardcore discipline. And they're going to be confused. They're going to be scared. They're going to be all the things.

or it's going to be that silent way. Hold on, I gotta cough again.

Jey (21:54.741)

Um, and when it comes out silently, that's when it's that you just checked out, zoned out on the couch, you know, you're zoned out in your recliner. Every dad has his chair. Um, when you're just sitting in your chair and just kind of there, you know, you're just quiet, like you're there physically, but you're not there. Like you're not there there. You know what I mean? So.

Cory (22:22.853)


Jey (22:24.405)

That was a long way to go through that, but the joke of it was that I just would chalk it all up to the depression and yeah, don't do that.

Cory (22:39.365)

It is, it is a weird, you know, how at least, you know, in my limited experience, women seem to eat more when they're depressed and men seem to eat less. I don't know. I'm sure that it goes both ways, but it just, from what little I've