Stronger Than The Dark | Discussing Smiling Depression with Ultra Marathon Runner, Cory Reese | Episode 24

Stronger Than The Dark | Discussing Smiling Depression  with Ultra Marathon Runner, Cory Reese | Episode 24

Join Kimber and Ultra Marathon Runner, Cory Reese, as they talk about: 

1. His battle with smiling depression and the book that was born from that battle: "Stronger Than The Dark"  

2. How Cory has become an "expert on suffering"

3. How we are prone to invalidate our own feelings and the importance of normalizing mental health struggles and therapy

4. How our gender can affect the way we experience emotion

5. Radical self-care and the meaning of life


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For guest bios, episode transcripts or to leave a review, please visit:

Resources for further study

Stronger Than The Dark by Cory Reese

Secular Bhuddism Podcast





[00:00:00] Intro


Today, I'll be talking with ultra marathon runner, author, and social worker, Corey Reese, about his new book stronger than the dark and his battle with smiling depression. Corey. Oh, now it's recording. Corey. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I just finished reading your book a few weeks ago and I cannot wait to talk to you about it. I'm really excited. You're here.

Cory: Thanks for the invite. I'm excited to talk.

Kimber: Can you give us a brief introduction of, of who you are and what you do, and maybe a little bit about why you wrote this.

Cory: Yeah, I feel like I'm kind of a mix of so many different things. I'm I'm a writer ultra marathon runner social worker. So just a little bit about each of those Let's see what the running stuff I've been doing, a lot of ultra marathons and a hundred milers, and that kind of led to

Kimber: I just have to interrupt you and laugh at how casually you say a hundred, a hundred milers to me the first time I heard of someone running anything like a marathon seems insane to me. The first time I heard that people ran over a hundred miles. I, my job about hit the floor. So.

I love that you were just like a hundred mile airs, whatever.

Cory: Yeah, I'm not sure it's the smartest hobby, but I eat a lot of cookies and ice cream. And so I, I have to run more miles to burn it all off.

Kimber: Yeah, a hundred miles worth of cookies. I'm sure.

[00:02:19] Stronger Than The Dark

Cory: exactly. So I, I wrote a few books about ultra marathon running and and then I. I started working on my third book, which was about a race called the vol state 500 K, which is a 314 mile race across Tennessee.

And that book. So that's my most recent one. And it kind of morphed along the way of writing it. I, I had a couple things happen over the course of writing it. That kind of shifted the direction that the book went. So I During that time. I my wife and I left the Mormon church, and then I also got diagnosed with this weird health condition that it's called CVD where basically my immune system is really crappy and I had.

Doing infusions. And so that interrupted the way that I was able to run. And the combination of both of those things kind of triggered some depression that I had not experienced before. And so I decided like if I really wanted to put myself out there with the book and. Raw and vulnerable than I needed to write about that kind of stuff.

And kind of how I worked through that stuff. And so that's, that's kind of the direction that the book went, but I also I've been a social worker for maybe around 20 years. And so that kind of. Gave a different slant with the book. Like you know, it's, it's one thing to intellectually know about depression and, and be experienced in treating depression, but it's different from actually experiencing it.

So that, yeah, it wasn't, it wasn't really the direction that I planned to go. In the end. I, I am glad I did. And I, I just want to be part of making that a safe thing to talk about.

Kimber: think , that's fabulous. I'm all about that too. I think that's why I started this podcast too. And this idea that. If you talk about in your book a lot about you, you term it smiling depression and this mask that we all wear, and this is a podcast about being authenticity. I can't talk, being authentic.

And a huge part about being authentic is taking the mask off a little bit and showing the uglier. Harder heavier parts of ourselves that, that make us feel vulnerable. And I think that yeah, depression and , so much anxiety, all kinds of , mental illnesses and struggles that we work through are things that are universally experienced by people.

And we don't talk about.

[00:05:02] Why don't we talk about depression?

Kimber: it. Why don't you think we talk about it?

Cory: Well, I mean, it's, it's kind of a cliche, but it's true. Like there really is a stigma against mental health stuff. And I think it, I think people feel embarrassed or ashamed or almost like I should be able to handle this on my own and then that kind of fuels the depression because when you can't handle it on your own, it's, it's discouraging and depressing because you think you should, and then it just kind of feels itself.

And so, yeah, I think it, I think we just try to put on this, this image of being perfect and we've got our stuff together and it just that's the easier way.

[00:05:49] Invalidating Our Own Experience

Kimber: I'm looking for a quote in your book. This has been my experience with it. And if I can't find it, I'm going to be bummed. Cause it's really good. I, I probably marked too many things, so now it's going to make it harder rather than easier to find what I need to find. Well, I'll just talk about it cause you'll know what I'm talking about. You talk about in here this feeling like I don't, am I being. Dramatic. I am I being whiny. I don't even have anything to be that depressed about. Like my life is good. And then there comes like, and Buddhism, they call it the second arrow.

You know, we suffer over our suffering. Then you feel this like immense sense of guilt over being depressed. Is this been your experience? This has been my experience. I'm like, my life is good. I have a good life. Why. Why do I feel this way.

And you feel guilty about it and it becomes even more shameful to talk about it because you feel like you have no right to these feelings.

Is that your experience as well?

Cory: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's so easy to like minimize our feelings because it's easy to say like, well, I let me give you an example. That's related to this. So in the book I write. My experience going to a therapist and how hard that was at first and strange and awkward and eventually amazing and awesome.

But I was talking to her about my, the common variable immunodeficiency disorder and how I have to do these infusions. And it really sucks, but I work in dialysis centers and I I'm working with people. I have to come in every other day, do dialysis treatments for the rest of their lives. And there's these huge needles.

And they feel terrible afterward. And like, they're there, their lives are so much harder than what I have to do. So really what I have to do is not that big a deal. And the therapist was like, okay, stop. That's minimizing how hard it is, the stuff that you're going through. Like you're allowed. To feel that way you're, don't, don't minimize the way you're feeling.

So I, I think that the same kind of thing happens with depression. Like it's easy to look around and be like, well, other people have it worse. Other people are going through hard things. W what do I have to feel bad about? But that's denying the reality that maybe you're not feeling. As good as you want to.

[00:08:16] Everyone Feels Everything

Kimber: I think that one of the most helpful things that I've ever heard for me on this subject is I listed. Noah Rasheta does podcasts called secular Buddhism, which I really find just so much comfort and wisdom in it because it's Buddhism is very much about accepting what is, and one thing that he talks about on there is how as humans, we like to chase happiness.

And we like to think that there is. It's a possibility that we could get into a position or, or a point in life where we never have to feel these negative emotions and that everything will be perfect and fine. And, and he says, whether you are like the richest king on the planets or someone born into.

Poverty and really hard situation. You get to experience the entire spectrum of human emotions just because you are you're in this situation, doesn't mean you never get to feel happy. And just because you're in this situation, doesn't mean you don't get to feel sad. We all get to experience. All of it.

And I find, I find such comfort in that, on both ends of the spectrum. Right. I don't need to feel this huge. I feel it anyways, but I don't need to feel this huge pressure to find happiness all the time, because I'm not, I'm not going to escape the bad feelings and the bad feelings, you know, they're temporary too.

And we just get to feel all of that. I, I take great comfort in that.

Cory: Yeah, that's awesome.

[00:09:41] An Expert on Suffering

Kimber: So. You've briefly touched on everything that you you've talked about in the book, which is you run ultra marathons. You're a social worker. You you've got this condition where you it's not dialysis that you do. It's injections

Cory: Yeah. It's infusion. So I

Kimber: and fusions.

Cory: yeah, it's it's So it's like an amulet immunoglobulin to help boost my immune system. So I just have to pump this kind of like gel, like it's kind of like rubber cement, just sort of,

Kimber: Oh, that sounds so pleasant.

Cory: yeah, it's awesome. And so I have to stick three needles in my leg or my stomach, or and then just do my infusion once a week.

Kimber: Oh, my gosh. There's a, there's a line in your book where you say something about ultra marathon running and how it makes you an expert on suffering. I think you start the book out this way, and then the rest of the book plays out. That you've really, I feel like from reading your book, you've become an expert on suffering in a lot of different ways, from a lot of different perspectives.

And I want to get into. What are you learning from all this, these different perspectives on suffering?

Cory: Well, I think that's one of the things that drew me to ultra marathon running in the first place was that it's suffering, but it's chosen suffering. So I can like, I'm, I'm choosing to do this. I, I know what I'm in for. I know here's the biggest part. I know that at some point that suffering is going to end.

I'm going to get to a finish line, whether it's 26.2 miles away or a hundred miles away, or, or if I drop out of the race, whatever that suffering is going to end, I have control over it, which is quite a bit different than real life. That's what's so hard is that sometimes there just isn't a finish line.

You don't know when the suffering is going to end and that's what makes it so hard. So I, I think that yeah, I mean, you mentioned. Everyone, everyone suffers. And I have this kind of unique gift to be able to sit with people in their suffering and kind of see, see behind the scenes of what, what a lot of people don't see as a therapist and social worker.

I think. That has reinforced the fact that you can't, you can't always trust what you see on the outside. You can't know the private battles that someone is facing. And so I think it just highlights the importance of treating everyone with kindness, because you don't really know what what's going on below the surface.

[00:12:33] No one Is immune to Challenging Times

Kimber: So. You've been a social worker for a long time, but the last few years, this is the first time that you've really struggled with depression. Is that

Cory: Yeah. Yeah.

Kimber: What, first of all, I imagine that it's really easy to Kind of invalidate your experience and feel like I'm a social worker. I know about this. I shouldn't have to experience this.


Cory: Yeah.

Kimber: How do you come to grips with that and, and, and be okay with experiencing something that you felt like you should have the knowledge to get out of? Cause I think that's. At least for me, I try to fix everything with information, right. If I could just learn the right way to do this, I won't have to experience the pain of, I won't have to suffer.

I can fix it. And you went into it knowing all of this stuff. How do you, how did you grapple with that?

Cory: Yeah, that was, that was really hard. So this therapist, Stacy, that I started going to the, the first, the first session with her, she said, so what's it like being a social worker going to therapy? I'm like, well, Kind of sucks. Like I, I think that I should be able to handle this on my own. Like I refer people to therapy all the time.

I know the value of therapy. I, I help people with depression and yet I can't seem to get through it myself. And, and she said yeah, I, I totally understand. That's how I felt when I started going to therapy to. So, this is, this is allowed. This is okay. And she's like, it doesn't, it doesn't make you immune from having different challenges.

And so I think just having her normalize, it was, was a huge comfort.

[00:14:15] Normalizing Therapy

Kimber: And I need to let you know, I kind of told you this, but your book is the reason that I decided to start therapy because like

Cory: You mentioned that. That's awesome.

Kimber: Yeah.

And I'm loving it. I'm really like everyone should be, everyone should be in therapy, but it's funny because I've always been like a huge, like you said, I've been a huge proponent of it.

It's not like, I think I like to say that. I don't view mental illness as a stigma. At least that's what I thought, but, but I can view other people that way. It's a different thing for myself, because I should know better. I shouldn't need it. It's okay for anybody else to need it. I shouldn't need it. And so it was a really helpful perspective for me to read your book.

You're a social worker. So many of the things that you said are like the exact thoughts that I've thought my life is great. I'm probably just being like melodramatic. I shouldn't need therapy. And so reading your experience, like I finished the book and I was like, okay, it's okay for me to get therapy.

And it's been so good for me. I'm only like a few weeks. In fact, right after this appointment, I'm meeting with my therapist

Cory: That's awesome.

Kimber: and I'm excited about it. It's been really. Really, really good. And so it's been interesting for me, someone who, who doesn't have negative views about therapy to realize that I, I still have stigmas around it that I shouldn't need it.

Cory: Yeah, I think that's normal. I was just reading a book. And it, it talked about how therapy is kind of. Mountain climbing kind of like you and the therapist are both climbing up some mountains to the sight of each other and, and a therapist isn't any better at climbing. It's just, it's like a therapist can look over and, and see maybe there's.

A better, a better line up the mountain or an avalanche coming, or like just that, that outside perspective to be able to maybe help you see things that you can't see from your vantage point. And I think that's so helpful. Like I think I know, I know, I know the right thing to do and say, and feel, and, and I'm introspective and I understand myself, but.

Having that outside perspective and getting a different way of thinking on some things is so awesome.

Kimber: And also for me, it's been that validation. And you mentioned this with your therapist, that we invalidate our own feelings all the time, and sometimes it's such a relief to hear somebody else say, Yeah.

it makes sense that you are feeling this way. Just those words. It's like the biggest sigh of relief, like, oh, I'm not crazy.

Like it's okay. That I feel sad. I don't have to beat myself up about the fact that I feel this way. Like getting teary, just saying that like it's okay to build these emotions and it makes sense that I feel these emotions. That's been like a huge game changer for me.

[00:17:05] Midroll Ad

Cory: Yeah.

[00:17:06] Smiling Depression

Kimber: I want to talk about term, smiling depression, you talk about, you know, you're a social worker, you're very introspective.

It probably makes you like a ninja at not letting anybody else know what you're going through. What is smiling? Depression?

Cory: It's basically just the idea that.

People can use a smile to mask how they're really feeling inside. You just can't know, you can't know what's going on below the surface. So for me, like the most powerful that I have is about a year or year and a half ago, our. We have some really close friends, just amazing people. And their teenage son took his life.

And so they had a bunch of family in town. Like the next day and the following days. And so my friend Luis was there and his family said, okay, we're going to go to Costco, come with us. And he said, no, I don't want to go to Costco. They're like, yeah, just come with us. You need to get out of the house.

It's, it's good to, it's good to get out. Let's get out of the house now. I really don't want to finally, he, he agreed and, and went, went to Costco with him and he said, he talked about what a surreal experience that was to just be walking through Costco, having people passing by and, and having no idea that.

Man. They were walking past. His son just took his life the day before.

Kimber: my gosh.

Cory: I mean,

I can't fathom that. And, and that, that is like the most powerful example of like, we just don't know the cashier at the gas station or, or that the person that you pass on the sidewalk, you just don't know. And so we just have to, we have to show kindness.

Kimber: At this retreat that I just finished. . One of my clinicians there as a drama therapist and a back I've had her on the podcast and I'll be honest. I didn't have a clue. I knew I loved her and that she would do cool things. Did not have a clue what to expect from her at this retreat.

And one of the exercises she did with us the very first night. I didn't expect that we were going to be doing like legit group therapy, pretty much at this thing. And it was, it was incredible. But one of the exercises she had us do was she had a couple of people that volunteered to pick a couple other of us and pose us as the mask.

We talked about masks and how we wear masks. She had. She, so she had to the volunteers pick someone else and say, okay, what, what's the person that you present to the world and then choose someone else and say, what do you feel like inside? And it's like, one of the most powerful things I've ever witnessed, the, the pain and the insecurities that all of us have.

And like all of us. Every single person in that room could relate and to see it visualized in that way. And these people that inside they feel trapped or they're in this dark hole or they're grieving the loss of somebody, or they've experienced some really intense trauma, but they don't want to burden someone else with it.

A universal. Thing, you know, you hear these things, like everybody's going through something, treat everyone with kindness because you don't know what they're going through. And sometimes I think we hear it to the point that it kind of starts sounding trite and, and you don't really think about it.

But Yeah.

like your friend, his son just died by suicide the day before. And everyone's experiencing this incredibly heavy things. And the question that I have is like, What is the question, I guess, with this idea of smiling depression, sometimes even asking for help doesn't sound like I really need help because I, I control my emotions and I think a lot of people are this way. You control your emotions to the point that. When you get to the point that you're ready to validate your own needs a little bit and ask for help you do it in a way that still sounds like you're totally fine.

And to you, it feels like this big ask and I don't think it comes, I don't think people still can see like, oh, that person needs help. They've they've broadcasted in need. That needs to be met. And so sometimes. And I'm just going to speak from experience. I I'll be really, really struggling and feeling like I'm my life falling apart, or I'm going crazy.

And I'll say something to someone like, Hey, I've had a really rough day. I feel like I'm going to lose my mind. And that's about the way that's about the way my tone of voice is. And to me, I'm like screaming inside. Like I'm losing my mind. I don't know how much longer I can do this. And I can even hear myself at this level of.

I don't know. Does, does that come across what I'm saying? Like it's so hard to break through that mask. We've built up these masks so thick. How do you break through that?

Cory: Well, I think you, you bring up an important point. Like it's, it's hard to, it's hard to really. What's going on. And so you kind of throw out bread, bread, crumbs, hoping that someone will notice. And then when they don't, because you haven't put it all out, then it kind of reinforces like, okay, so you've no one cares my needs.

Aren't important. And it's understandable that we go there, but that's, that's when we have to. Take accountability and be like, well, need to, I need to really be direct in how I'm feeling and what I need. And instead of hoping that someone will mind read and understand what my needs are, like, what you described is so, so common for all of us.

And instead of letting that Be like, are her proof that people don't care or that our needs aren't important instead of going in that direction, we have to go to like, okay, well I need to, I need to put it out there. I need to be more vulnerable. I need to ask for what I need. But it's, it's hard because you're exactly right.

We're not used to doing that. We don't want to be a burden. We. Maybe think our problems aren't that big a deal. So it's, it's hard to let the wall down for the first time.

Kimber: Yeah. Yeah.

it is. And they. I just keep thinking of this meme. I saw it on probably read it somewhere that said something about how you can be having a total mental breakdown by yourself, in your car and have the thought, oh, I'm just being dramatic. I'm just doing this for attention and no, one's around to even look at you and you're like, oh, I'm just doing this for attention.

And, and sometimes it's okay. To need attention too. I think I think sometimes that may be why we get to the point of a breakdown where it's we can't do anything else. Like there has to be, we get really sick or we get some kind of physical expression of our inner needs because we have a hard time vocalizing it.

So it has to manifest somewhere else so that someone can see. That person needs help. I would imagine self harm may be as along these same lines. Like, I don't have a way to verbalize this. I don't know how, I don't know how to ask for my needs to be met, but I'm really hurting inside. I need someone to see that.

[00:25:21] Radical Self Care

Cory: Yeah, totally. Yeah. I think, I think you're exactly right. Like. Ideally, if we're really taking care of ourselves, we're, we're taking care of stuff as it comes up, instead of avoiding it, pushing it down, all of that because that's not really handling it. And then it just keeps piling up until it does become a crisis.

And so I mean, I, I hate to keep going back to wise things my therapist said, but she, she said like, I still go to therapy now just on the regular. And, and the difference is that I'm going just to keep myself on track instead of going out of crisis. And I, I love that idea, like, and it doesn't even necessarily need to be like going to therapy, but.

handling stuff, dealing with stuff as it comes up letting yourself feel the feelings instead of avoiding as it comes up, instead of pretending it's not there avoiding and because it doesn't go away.

Kimber: . We live in a society that really believes in this phrase, if it's not broke, don't fix it. And we feel that that applies to. Like our self care as Well, Right. I'm doing fine. I don't need to pay attention to myself. I can, I can put all of my energy into, you know, my job, my, my family, whatever.

I don't need to worry about myself. And just this morning I did I use the calm app for meditation and I did a guided meditation called radical self-care. And I think that's such a powerful way to frame it is like, This isn't something everyone's doing. It almost feels like a little bit of an act of rebellion to really do something that's taking care of yourself.

And I think this idea of going to therapy on a consistent basis, even if you're not in crisis mode would be a great form of radical self care that we can take care of ourselves without having to get to the point of where. We aren't going to survive the week if we don't get therapy, which I think is a lot of us wait until we get to that point.

[00:27:27] Gender and "Approved Emotions"

Kimber: I want, so I want to talk a little bit about vulnerability and letting ourselves be seen and kind of the way that gender plays into that. It was really interesting for me to read your experience of Y you aren't vulnerable as a man because I've, I've had a different experience, but similar as a woman.

So it's interesting that sometimes gender can play to that. So, so talk to us about how being a man kind of feeds into this feeling.

Cory: Well, I think there's. There's a term toxic masculinity. Like guys have to be tough and not show emotions. Not, not let stuff get to them, keep their cool. There's also like the way that, that shows up. Negatively in men a lot is that it comes out in anger. So that one for men, a lot of times is in their minds.

That's okay. So yeah, it was it's, it's hard to let down those walls and like, Things you don't really want to look at. What I found was really amazing, really just allowing myself be vulnerable. It kind of like creates a safe space where other people can do the same thing. So I noticed like with my friends, when I started talking.

What I was experiencing. They were so supportive and, and talked about how they actually been feeling some similar things. And so it's kind of like, I just kind of like shake my head, like, oh, it, it really is this easy. Like I, I had resisted for so long letting myself be vulnerable, but. to do that.

It's like it, I realized that vulnerability creates connection and, and that's really all, all of us are wanting that we're wanting connection. And, and the way to do that, I, I really believe is to let yourself be vulnerable and let down the expectation of being perfect.

Kimber: Yeah.

I in the beginning of the book, you, you talk about going on a run by yourself, and I think you almost ran into a cow in the dark. Is that what it was you almost run into and you say something, you said you let out like a like some kind of weird Yelp. Then you said, if Mel would have heard it, she would have divorced me on the spot.

And that was the first time when I was like, whoa, that's a lot of masculine conditioning, right? That you, you have to be the strong one. You're not allowed to show that you're fearful or vulnerable in any way. Right.

Cory: Right.

Kimber: And that's kind of a humorous example of it, but it's still very much there. And it's interesting to me that as a woman, the, the emotion I feel that women are cut off from is.

And rage. And that's something that I've really been discovering with myself lately. And as you are discovering that you can be vulnerable and, and not always, I don't know how else you, you know, experience more emotions, experience, more vulnerable emotions that may be termed as weak, even though that's a horrible term for it.

But, but as a man, I think that's probably the label that gets put on it a lot as a woman. Instead of our, our sadness and anxiety and whatever else coming out as anger, like I think would happen for a man. Maybe it's the opposite that our anger and rage often comes out in being hyper emotional and vulnerable.

And, and and so sometimes I don't know, I. I've let myself express some rage lately, both in my podcast a little bit and on my Instagram account. And it feels like a super hyper vulnerable share because women aren't supposed to be angry. And just like you said, I have found some incredible connection, human connection with other women that say like, thank you.

And I'm sure you got this with your book as well. Thank you so much. For sharing that I, I know exactly where you're coming from. I feel like you are reading my mind right now and, and thank you for being a voice. That's willing to say something. And it's so sad that that both genders feel like there are certain emotions that they're not allowed to feel.

Cory: Yeah, but doing what you're doing, like you're, you're creating that space to show it's. It's okay to do that. And you're so right. Like the fact that you were. You're bringing up those feelings, you know, that there's so many others feeling the same thing that just don't don't feel safe to express it.

And so I, I think it takes, it takes stepping out of your comfort zone to show other people that it's okay to do that.

Kimber: I wanted my favorite moment in your book. There's so many awesome moments. If you're listening to this and you haven't already been. Corey's book, you can, you can listen to it and go head over to Amazon and look up. I don't even think we said the title of your book yet in this podcast, but it's called stronger than the dark exploring the intimate relationship between running and depression.

And I'm here to tell you, I am not a runner at all. I really hate running. But this book was every bit as important and connected with me. Not respect that you run by the way. That's not me, but what I'm trying to say is this, isn't just a book for runners. I think this is a book for humans and it's an important read, so, so go get it.

[00:32:51] Life's Meaning

Kimber: But one of my very favorite moments in the book is you're talking about this incredible. Ultra marathon that you're running and the misery that you're going through and your feet are just wreck. You've got blisters all over your feet. And can you talk to us about the moment when you kind of let your walls down as a runner and let yourself be seen there and what happens?

Cory: Yeah, that's that I know exactly what you're talking about. So I went to do this race ball state kind of hoping that it would unlock some things for me. Helped me realize what I needed to do to work through this depression. Like I, I don't know. I, I kind of thought naively that this race would like show me parts of myself and I come back feeling healed and whole and happy.

And. It didn't really work like that. Like a racism to magic fix for stuff like that. But there was one experience that like opened the door for me. So yeah, you mentioned I, you have 10 days to do this race and so you, you sleep when you have to sleep, eat, when you come across a gas station or a fast food place to eat, like there's no, there's no.

Aid stations, no support staff. You just you're on your own. You have, you have 314 miles

Kimber: So crazy. I can't even fathom it.

Cory: Good luck. We'll see you at the finish line. We'll give you a little wood necklace at the end. So

And it's, it's in the middle of summer in Tennessee, so it's crazy hot, crazy humidity. And my feet just were.

Hamburger every step was just like walking on hot coals after a few days. And so I think we were maybe day seven and I was with my friends, Jeff and Carol man wearing. And they could see that every step was so painful and. Carol said I have a lot of experience working on blisters.

Do you want me to help you? Do you want me to see if I can patch some up and like, no, I don't want you to do that because that's freaking disgusting, like working on another friend's gross feet. No, I would not ask anyone to do that. That's disgusting. Well, so we keep going.

We were , 40 or 50 miles away from the finish line and I just didn't know what to do. And so when she offered again, I, I finally agreed because that's how desperate I was. I was desperate enough to. A close friend, work on my disgusting feet. And so just letting myself like, be humble enough to do that.

So I was sitting on some stairs and I took my shoes and socks off and she started working on my blisters and I just had this like completely. Emotional breakdown, except I I'm a man, so I can't show it. And so I just had the ugly tears just coming down, but I was quiet and I didn't, I didn't want to make a big scene.

And part of the emotion was like, oh my gosh, my feet hurt so bad. But part of it was just. Such a raw vulnerable moment. I felt just like something I hadn't experienced before just letting my walls down, letting myself be helped by someone else. It was such a, a foreign feeling to me.

And then she happened to look up and see that I was crying and I saw that she started crying too, and it ended up just being such a connecting powerful experience. And, after I came home, I realized that's, that's why I ran vol state. That's what I needed to get from that race was just recognizing that it's okay.

To ask for help. Other people are willing and wanting to help and vulnerability creates connection. And I mean, I intellectually knew those things before, but I hadn't really let myself experience them. And, and it was just a game changer for me. So that's when I, when I came home. It led to me talking to my wife for the first time about how I was feeling it led to going to therapy.

And I think that was really the moment where a shift happened.

Kimber: So this is, this is right after the moment that you just told us about you say then she looks up and she sees my tears. The expression on her face remains stoic and focused, but I see heavy tears filling her eyes. We have built such a powerful bond of empathy and love. As she works, everything around me, blurs.

I don't feel the wind blowing the leaves on the Bush. Next to me. I don't hear the cars driving by. All I notice is the warmth of Carol's empathy. She is feeling my pain with me in this moment of being supremely broken. I now recognize life's meaning with pristine clarity. We are here to endure. We are here to be a beacon of light in the darkness.

We are here to help others turn hurt and to heal. We are here to spread hope and radiate love. And gosh, I think the longer I'm alive, the more I come to that same conclusion that we haven't really gone into this. You and I, but both of us have the same religion of origin that we've we've left. And I think.

It's a pretty common religious practice, but I know, especially in the Mormon religion, that's kind of the point of life is to become perfect. Right. We're here to be perfect. We're here to figure everything out and do everything the right way. and it's been such a struggle for me to find new meaning in life after letting that one go.

And I'm sure that's where a lot of the depression comes from. And this, this part of the book, when you say this is why we're here, it's not to have it all figured out. It's not to become perfect it's to experience it and to reach out to others, to be that beacon of light, to be, to be there for each other.

On my very last podcast episode that I released, I read a poem called. That I love. And th the whole poem is about the, I, I still don't know how to clean my shower floors. I don't know how to make a perfect morning breakfast smoothie. And my friends tell me same, same, same, and it's a love letter of sorts.

And maybe we aren't here to essentially to figure it all out. Maybe we're here to, to say, oh Yeah.

I go through that. ex, I know what you're going through and I'm here with you and that's, to me, That's what your whole book is about. That's such an important message. And, and I mean, it helps me personally, like I've already said.

Cory: That's awesome.

[00:39:49] The Takeaway

Kimber: What are some takeaways that maybe we can leave with our listeners today? If they come, come away with just one or two things from this episode?

Cory: I think for me like the, the takeaways that I hope I hope people take away with is just a willingness to let the walls down and, and be vulnerable. And if you're going through a hard time and can't see. Get things back on track. It's okay to ask for help. And there's, there's so many different resources.

I mean, it could be just talking to friends and family. It could be taking an antidepressant. It could be going with therapy. Like, I think it's so important to know that we don't have to do this whole. And, and that's really one of depression's biggest lives is that we're alone. Other people don't understand.

And, and that is false. That is, that is a lie that's, that's something that we need to recognize as a lie and not, not listen to it. So I think that's. That's a huge thing for me. And then the other thing is just recognizing that smiling depression exists and , we need to be aware of that and , treat others with kindness and create connections where people feel safe to say how feel.

Kimber: Yeah.

Where can people, I think everyone should follow you and find you and read your book. I know we talked about a lot of heavy stuff today, but this is actually ironically like a really fun. Book there. There was some lines that just made me laugh out loud and I'm not like a laugh out loud while I'm reading kind of person, but you've just got such a fresh, unique take on things.

And I love your sense of humor. And so this is actually a poignant, but also a very, very fun read. And I love, I loved that while reading your book, I felt like I felt like I'd kind of been like a witness to some of it. Cause I follow you on Facebook and you, some of the stories in here I had read about when you posted them, like, when you talk about the Toto playing Africa in the bowling alley a million times, I was like, oh, I remember when he did that.

So you're just a fun person to follow. So where can people find you and follow you?

Cory: You can, if you just go to Cory,, that has kind of my information about books and stuff. You can get them on Amazon or audible or Facebook. Yeah, those are probably the best place.

Kimber: And whether you're into ultra marathon running or not, you've got awesome stuff. I love following you and connecting with you.

[00:42:22] Outro


Cory Reese Profile Photo

Cory Reese

Ultramarathon Runner / Author / Social Worker

Cory lives in southern Utah with his wife and children. He runs 100 mile races to burn off all the cookies and Dr. Pepper he consumes and is author of the books Nowhere Near First, Into the Furnace, and Stronger Than the Dark. Cory is a licensed clinical social worker, speaker, and passionate mental health advocate.