“10 year old me. Caleb you really came this far. I’ve only thought I’d die young so being here is a miracle.” Caleb Macauley is a vibrant, artistic, caring, ambitious and fun loving young man battling with depression and anxiety.
Like most children, Caleb never really paid attention to his emotions while growing up. They came and went as they may. “I had my first experience with anxiety and depression at the age of 10. That was the time so much was going on in my life.”
He was at that time diagnosed with bipolar anger issues and he started hurting himself intentionally. Mum going through a divorce, her moving to Gambia, young Caleb had to stay back in England to live with his aunt. “I remember there were times I did things I couldn’t explain.” Caleb recalls breaking plates, tables, computers and no one thought to ask what was going on with him. But his aunt did the ideal thing and took him to see a therapist.
Therapy did not come without its challenges however. Caleb felt scared, strange, weird about it. Talking to a random stranger about how he was feeling wasn’t really a welcoming idea for him. He also felt at some point that no one around him wanted to listen to him so they figured this could be a way to keep him out of the way. This was reinforced by the fact that no one in his family knew that he was diagnosed.
“Only one person was aware of what was going on. My mum was kept in the dark because she had so much going on by then. Eventually I realized how helpful it was. It made me realize my love for the art, allowed my creativity to burst out,” he added
Eventually I realized how helpful it was. It made me realize my love for the art, allowed my creativity to burst out.
However, over the years, Caleb realized that he’d started slowly heading down that road again. This time around it was worse. There was no one to tell and the “most ironic part of it is how people tend to see me as a jovial, happy person. I am of course but it was scary, scary for me when I had manic attacks.”
For days he felt empty inside, and at times he attempted suicide, spent nights in hospital and was good at covering it all up. He mastered the art of showing enough just for the people around him to think they’ve got him figured out. Through it all Caleb managed to stay glued to the things he loved, the things that helped get him out of darkness.
When he moved to The Gambia, he let his family know what he was dealing with the experience was traumatizing. Living in The Gambia with depression requires a lot of strength because according to him, “people are very judgmental and tend to think their opinion supersedes the opinion of other people. Men are cautious of their masculinity, proving their sexuality, doing their ultimate best to stick to the status quo. This is sad because most people become trapped and afraid to explore life or be who they really are.”
Men are cautious of their masculinity, proving their sexuality, doing their ultimate best to stick to the status quo.
Caleb remembers when he was much younger, always knowing himself to be in touch with his feminine side and he “have no shame of that.”
“Good and bad; all in all, my take-home lesson was that no matter how much you try to stay friends with some people, if they don’t bring anything to the table, let them go. Life is a transactional journey. We give and receive.”
When he realized how some of his so-called friends can be selfish or be all about themselves, he moved on and truly gave himself the care and love that he needed. “For a person that has gone through a lot of mental trauma, I needed to be cautious of who I allow in my circle, share my energy and space with.”
To parents whose kids might be showing signs of anxiety or depression, Caleb’s plea is that they talk to them about the state of their mental health, observe their change of behavior, triggering factors, and go to therapy with them If possible. Most importantly, “do not, I repeat, do not judge or think you have the ultimate solution to what’s happening with them. It never helps! Ohhh…. and don’t say “we should pray about it, it’s the work of the devil.Nope! You can’t pray about something that you don’t acknowledge. Deal with it head on while asking God for his help and strength. ”
“ Boys and men in the culture suffering. Find a father figure that you can confide in. It could be a close friend, uncle, cousin, brother or even a family friend. Find someone and let it all out.” He urges them to not be so afraid or think that they’ll be judged. He believes living one’s best life is way more than what others say or think about you. “You put yourself and speak up and speak out. It can be hard, but if you do need help, there are organizations that can help with that and I’m offering my help as well.”
You put yourself and speak up and speak out. It can be hard, but if you do need help, there are organizations that can help with that and I’m offering my help as well.
Today Caleb describes his state of being and living his truth as “blissful!!”, the journey he tells us has made him find someone that gives him nothing but pure joy and happiness. “I have come to accept that my emotions will always surface. I just have to be on the lookout to know what needs fixing and where.”
He’s also accepted and currently on his journey of self-healing, care, love, being grounded, knowing, above all that “God does answer prayers”. He feels it all starts with coming to terms that one can be happy and find peace. He has started therapy again and is excited to see what life has in store for him. “No more living on the edge, it’s time to fly. To my 10 year old self, I’ll tell him. The storm will pass, but that doesn’t mean it’s over. Brace yourself and you’ll be alright.”