June 10, 2021

William Caleb Rivera-Bloodworth, Advocate, Actor, Artist

William Caleb Rivera-Bloodworth, Advocate, Actor, Artist
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Audible podcast player badge
Goodpods podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
TuneIn podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge
Podchaser podcast player badge
YouTube Channel podcast player badge
Pandora podcast player badge
Stitcher podcast player badge

***In this episode our guest speaks candidly about self harm and suicide, if those subjects are sensitive to you, you may want to skip this episode. But know that you are never alone and help is always available, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.***

Do you find yourself struggling to find the light especially when you are alone? Advocate, Actor, & Artist William Caleb Rivera-Bloodworth dives deep into what it took for him to work through being alone for one of the first times in his life. 

Find Caleb and his inspirational art on Instagram at @WC_RB 

Interrupt Racism program at the Urban league of Rochester 

Check out the A Moment with Moj podcast that I mentioned.


Support the show

If you'd like to support this podcast, you can buy me a coffee HERE.

Check out the "Keep the Darkness at Bay" Journal & T's Here

I'd also appreciate it if you left a 5 star rating and review for the podcast on whichever platform you listen on. Thank You!

Special Thanks To:

@jasonthe29th - Logo Design

@jacobjohnsontunes - Theme Music

Pod Decks - Fast 5 Questions
Get 10% off your Pod Decks with promo code "CHEW"

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links here are affiliate links, which means I will make a small commission if you click them and make a qualifying purchase, at no extra cost to you :)

*I hereby solemnly swear to only promote products and services I actually love and use in my podcast and everyday life!


In this episode of Chewing the Fat, our guest speaks candidly about self-harm and suicide. If you're sensitive to those subjects, you may want to skip this episode, but know that you are not alone. Help is always available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.

Welcome to the second episode of Chewing The Fat. I am your host, Big Robb. Thank you so much for tuning in yet again. I appreciate it. And thank you so much for all the love that's gone out through Instagram for the show and encouraging me. I can't thank you enough for that. And I am so excited to have my next guest on today. A friend of mine, we started working together here in Augusta. And I like to call him

I have William Caleb Riviera Bloodworth. I can just call him Caleb. It feels weird to call you like by your whole full name and everything like that, but I just call him Caleb. It definitely does feel like I'm in trouble, yes. No, no, you're not in trouble, Caleb. I appreciate it so much for you coming on me today. No, I'm so excited to see you. I haven't seen you in like two years. Thank you, COVID. Yeah, right. Yeah.

I'm good. I'm good. You know, it's funny when people talk about you know in the inner trying to remember Well, when is the last time I did it and everyone's like oh, I did that last year And it's like no there was a whole year that we did nothing in between So you have to add a full year no matter what memory you have you have to add another year on to it's like oh Oh, that was two years ago. What is oh, yeah, I I would wholeheartedly like to start a campaign that last year was 2019 mm-hmm and I think we move on from there Right, we'll just skip over we just skip over

Still say, oh no, no, that was last year. It just lasted 24 months. That's all Totally normal right right Caleb we started in retail together here, but we we became fast friends and Have a lot of common interests You are an actor you are a very very funny funny actor and also a steadfast friend and

And my life is better for having you in it, first and foremost, let me say that. Oh, I feel the same way. But what have you been up to in these two years? I mean, nobody did anything last year, but what have you been up in Rochester? Cause you moved from Augusta to Rochester, New York, talk about a little climate change there. Oh man, yeah. It's been an adventure for sure. Yeah.

I did move in 2018. I moved from Georgia up to Rochester. Full disclosure for all of your listeners, because you already know, I moved here with my now ex-husband for a medical residency in Rochester, New York. And that whole thing kind of went under, but I really liked Rochester, so I stuck around. Then from there, I moved into the nonprofit sector

That's where I still am. That's awesome. And what's the nonprofit that you're working for now? So I work for the Urban League of Rochester. So we are the Rochester affiliate. The Urban League is actually the nation's largest civil rights organization. So we've got affiliates all over the country. And I'm at our location here in Rochester. That's amazing. And I know for a fact you've done some amazing stuff. Even during last year in COVID, I've seen your posts with the different ways that you were adapting to make sure that people could

you know, stood up for in those times that we were going through and the different virtual events that you hosted. Well, thank you. Yeah, it was, you know, in addition to COVID, we talk a lot about there being the, you know, the dual or the double pandemics of, you know, the racial unrest, systemic racism, alongside COVID-19. And so, Urban League of Rochester, I worked with my boss, who's our president and CEO,

And we created an interrupt racism campaign starting last summer. And so then that led to us doing a virtual summit in October that was attended by over 500 folks across the country kind of coming together with thought leaders trying to determine, you know, what are actionable steps that we can take on this pathway to healing for our country? Because there's been enough talk. There's been enough people saying,

Oh yeah, we see that there's a problem going on, but not a lot of people willing to really do the work. And so we're really starting to recognize that people really are learning that they need to do the work. Systemic racism is a white people problem. And being a white person myself, I definitely wanna make sure that I'm doing everything that I can to help people work on systemic racism. Absolutely. And that's why I call you the advocate. Because,

Oh, thank you. It's not, I mean, because it's, and that's what advocates are, then it's not about self-interest. It's about the interest, the common good, the good of humanity, and you have such a heart for that. And it brings me joy to see you so much happier now than I knew you three years ago as you were leaving. Yeah, well, thank you for that. It definitely around the time that I was leaving Augusta,

the first several months that I was up here in Rochester, were some pretty dark times. And then after I split from my ex, went through some other challenging times. Really, the thing that was most challenging, most interesting really to go through was realizing that I didn't know what I most enjoyed doing.

I hadn't really, I had not spent enough time on my own in my life to really put the time into considering what is it that brings me, that joy that you're talking about. I mean, I knew that I enjoyed theater. I knew that I enjoyed reading, but it was almost like up until really living in a new place on my own. That I didn't. It was almost like those things.

things that I did in between the times that I was with other people, in those times that I didn't have an external source of distraction. Right. There are, I think, you know, it has to do with kind of the way that I grew up, but, you know, I'm just accustomed to kind of being on the lookout for, oh, well, who needs something? Like, who's somebody that I can help? And kind of, I took the short cut of, you know, I'm not sure.

of busyness rather than really learning what I enjoyed. And so I think, you know, I appreciate so much you saying that like you're able to see that I'm like a lot happier where I am now. And I think a lot of that work was just from finding those things that really bring joy and like giving myself permission to do them. I hate to say whenever I want, but you know, to do those things that bring me joy whenever I want. Exactly, you know, and I think that as someone myself who's often,

I feel like I am one of those people, pleaser type people, you know, that I will, you know, help someone else at the expense of myself sometimes. I think it's hard sometimes to get to the point where you're like, you know what, I can, it's okay to invest in myself. It's okay, it's not selfish to have some self care to explore what does bring me those joys. What were those happiest moments that I have? What was I doing?

And to really dive into that and to do that inner work to figure that stuff out. That's not selfish, but again, as a people pleaser, it's a hard point to get to because that's what you've always done. You're always like, you know, and maybe that's a coping mechanism too, where, you know, hey, you know what, I can not worry about my problems by helping someone else with theirs. You know? For sure. For sure. Yeah.

that, I also think it's just, I don't know that we do the best job in this country of of helping our young people understand that it's okay to take that time to figure out what you enjoy. You know, we push everybody through this funnel to where, you know, you as a 17, 18, 19 year old should be deciding what you're going to do for the rest of your life. And the rest of the world is looking at us like,

What the hell are they doing over there? And you know, I think it's, I definitely was a person that was on that conveyor belt previously of, you know, I've got to get good grades in high school to get into a good college, to get into a good grad school, to get into a good job. And I didn't spend an awful lot of time really considering what I most enjoyed. I spent a lot of time in college thinking about what,

my self perception, right? What I was good at or what other people told me I was good at. But not necessarily like thinking about the job that I do now in doing marketing and communications for a nonprofit. Most workdays, I really enjoy what I'm doing. And most workdays, I'm not doing a damn thing that I learned about in college. Right. You know? And so it's, it's just so interesting to me that

that we really do kind of tell young kids like, you know, be careful what what major you're deciding on because then that's what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life. And, you know, looking back on it, I thoroughly enjoyed what I studied. I studied Spanish in particular literature in Spanish. I loved it. I had some brilliant professors. But I think if our culture was more focused on giving us all

a little more time, a little more space to just find those things that we enjoy doing. I don't know. I don't know what sort of degree I would have come out with at the end of that. I don't know what, you know, my first series of jobs might have been. I do know there was my freshman year of undergrad. I took like an intro to theater class. And I knew before I went into undergrad that I loved being an audience member.

But that was the first time as part of the projects for that class, you know, we weren't doing full works, but we were doing, you know, different scenes from major pieces. And I kind of got a little bit of the bug there. And I went on to like review the College of Theatre for the newspaper. And, you know, I thought I got pretty good at being there.

a critic. But it's so interesting though looking back on it, you know, it took until it was almost 10 years later before I actually, my friend Rachel convinced me to go to an audition. And it was just like, I was really good friends with her and her husband at the time, you know, and then so I went in for an audition at the community theater that they did a lot of work with. And I mean, it was just like this earth shattering thing.

that I had never really given myself permission to do before. So it's just like I said, it's funny looking back on those experiences where you realize like, huh, if I were going back to school now, it's like I would have theater classes, I'd have psychology classes, I would definitely bone up a little bit more on marketing and communications. Right, right. But yeah, I just said, why don't we let our kids enjoy themselves? You know, and I think that,

You're right. Part of that is being able to have a little space, a little time to figure out what your passions are. Because when you're passionate about something, you know, that work seems light. The work seems easier, or the hard times in it seem easier to get past because you are passionate about what you're doing. I know for a fact there have been times I've been up till 4.30 in the morning editing a video for some project that I needed to complete

was I was passionate about making sure that it was right, that I didn't want my name associated with something that was going out that was not right. And that's, and I think being able to find those things definitely make, not that we're trying to make better workers but they make you a better worker, they make you a more cognizant, more careful, more invested worker in whatever field that may be. Absolutely, absolutely.

I do think that that is one of those, I'm always cautious who I say this to. But in my individual subjective experience, so let that be the... That's a disclaimer. The warning up front, right? The disclaimer. One of the positive things that came out of COVID, out of the quarantine and being at home for so long, that was really kind of the back half

that I went through over the last three years or so, and really finding those things that I really enjoy that really helped me feel happy and contentment was you're stuck at home with just yourself and your own thoughts. And it's a, there's kind of two paths that can take. That can either go toward figuring out what you enjoy or that can go towards a really dark place, right? And so for me,

it really did give me the time and space and I think the permission to come back to, you know, I mentioned that I love reading. I had in recent years not been reading as much and then it was, you know, with COVID, well, there aren't friends to go see, there aren't events to go to. I mean, the saddest part for me individually was just like, there was no theater to attend. I mean, like, being the theater fanatics that you and I are,

I mean, that was rough because that's like a, you know, worst case scenario at any given week. There's probably some theater nearby that's doing something, but I could go see, right? Right. So, it was like, okay, well, that's out. I'm going to see people I know is out. So, I really did. I got back to reading a whole lot more voraciously than I previously did. I started doing more art. And... Some of your art is amazing. I love some of the pieces you're doing.

I've seen that you are just experimenting with whatever. You're like, oh, this is a new, this is acrylics or this is oils or this is whatever, this is watercolour. And just trying it all to see what you like. See again, giving yourself the permission to play and to figure out which one of these mediums that you like best. Absolutely. So which one are you doing right now? What's the medium you're enjoying the most right now? So,

Yesterday, I happened to have a little bit more free time than I was anticipating because I had gotten so many chores done earlier in the weekend. And so I was like, okay, I've got like two hours here. So I didn't want to really dig into something too terribly involved because I live in a one bedroom apartment. And so my art studio space is in fact my kitchen counter. And so it's a... I have to really...

larger project, I have to kind of mentally prepare myself for that stuff is going to sit out on your counter for the next two weeks. So I was not in the, I was like, you just cleaned your place. Don't start something big. So I was like, okay, well, let me like call out the watercolors again. That's something that I've only done once or twice. And so I was like, let me just play around with that. So I just like, grab sheets of paper and just started kind of throwing watercolor around. My landlord, when I move out this summer, is going to find paint weird

places for sure. But so like I did a couple of watercolour pieces yesterday, that was really fun. And then the thing that I've been working on more consistently the past few weeks is using Procreate on my iPad and doing some illustrations. I'm still really, really new at that. I feel a little bit more confident in sort of the real world artwork rather than the digital.

obsessed with quotations. I like collect all these inspirational quotations. I, when I'm talking about the people that I follow on Instagram, it's like theater people and artists that I admire and inspiration porn. Yeah. Yeah. And so like I live for all of the like uplifting quotes and you know, like, if you're doing this, this might be toxic. And like I, I, I live for those.

And so I have a folder on my phone where I screenshot all of these Instagram quotes. And the past several weeks, I'm like, you know, that's some, that's consuming social media, but it's not really creative. I have like, I kid you not, I've got over 1200 of these screenshots on my phone. And so it's just like, I was thinking, well, what if you start like dabbling in the digital and then you, you know, pull those into Photoshop and add some of those quotes that you can

really admire into that. Yeah. And so that was the most recent series that I did, which is like quotes that I find meaningful and I was just doing sort of abstract illustrations behind them. I know, and it's an amazing thing. And I love seeing those posts that you put up. You know, and those are very screenshotable things that you're making as well. Thank you. You know, I mean, they're very good for, you know, screen savers on your phone or your computer, it's or like I said, I have that folder that you can flip through to be

inspired by. Yeah, exactly. And that's that's so cool. Because again, that's more of you. That's that's more of who you are. You're you're creating, but you're also you're sharing that that light, you're sharing that that knowledge and that inspiration to folks. And it's that's so much you that is so much you. Thank you. Absolutely. And and I've got to say that probably one of the joys of my life is being able to share the stage with you. 25th

of annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Oh my God. I remember talking to you about that and saying, you should audition, you're like, I'm not a singer, I'm not a singer, I'm not gonna go, I'm not a singer. I was like, just come, just come do it, just do a little bit, just do a little, there's some great parts in there, they're talking about breaking up some of the roles and have more people just come. And they loved you, loved you, and were able to work you into a part there in the show. And you were just,

As Jesus, you stole the show. Jesus on a hoverboard. It's amazing. Amazing. I'll have to see if I can find some of the video and put it up on my Instagram so that you can see Caleb as Jesus on the hoverboard because that. Oh, yes, please. Was amazing. But I'm sure that that one of our lovely cast members will be more than glad to share the embarrassing footage of me getting on a hoverboard for the first time for for you and your

I've reached out to Chelsea. I'm sure she has it. Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, you can, you can, uh, when you start your Patreon, that can be one of the, the bonuses they just, there you go. If you want the inside of the screen. Lockmail material for, for, for our guests. Um, yeah, that was, that was such an important experience for me. Um, because I had, at that point I had done maybe six or seven, um, shows, but I had never done it.

musical despite the fact that I'm obsessed with musical theater. And like, it's always funny when people ask me in like sort of casual conversation, you're like getting to know new people and they're like asking you like what music do you like? And you're always in that position of like, well, I'm like, not to be that gay, but I'm going to like show tunes. It's pretty much just show tunes. And they'll be like asking me about, you know, whatever rap music is popular.

I don't know who that is. But I can talk to you about Sondheim all day. Is that Lin-Manuel Miranda? Did that come from Hamilton? Is that a Hamilton? Oh my god. Those are exactly like those are the only yeah his work is the only rap that I know. So sorry. There you go. Exactly. And so like I said, I've always been obsessed with musical

I grew up just watching musicals, you know, Disney movies, going to the theater all the time. But I never let myself try out in the several years I was doing community theater prior to that point for a musical because I was absolutely petrified to sing in front of other people. And I know where it comes from too. It's funny, I, and growing up, like I said, my mom's a music teacher. So, you know, when I was little, it was like I was in,

I was in the children's choir at church and like was in choir at school. And like, I mean, I'm not going to floor anyone with, you know, like my singing prowess or whatever, but like up until a certain point was like, you know, reasonably fine as a child, you know, singing. But I remember there was one day in middle school when I am like I can still envision the like circular cafeteria table that I was at.

right by the like tree return in the Stoll cafeteria. And I was like singing some song like in talking with a really close friend of mine, actually. And she was like, oh, my God, stop, you can't sing. Oh, wow. And like, it was this one like throw away comment that like, I mean, let's be honest, no one is their best self in middle school. We were all being like total hassles each other. But, um,

it was like, oh, oh, well, maybe I can't sing. And, you know, like, I mean, I have my own anxiety issues today, but they're much better than they were, you know, when I was much younger. And it was like, from that point on, it was just like, okay, well, this is a thing that I guess I do by myself because I can't sing. And so it was like, from that point on, it was a like, at home, like with my mom being a music teacher, like, you know,

And it was up until that point, it was kind of a normal thing to like, sing at home with mom and like, I would refuse to sing at home. I would, I would sing if I was literally at home by myself or, um, you know, when I was old enough to drive badly, uh, I would, you know, one of the things that I loved most about getting my driver's license wasn't being able to drive because I honestly still don't like driving. It was like having a space.

I knew no one could hear me sing. Wow. So it really was like up literally up until Rob convincing me to just really for the love of God, just like go in, it'll be fine. Like would not sing in front of like spouses would not sing in front of like close, close friends, like wouldn't do it. And so that was such an important experience for me. Well, I didn't even know that that was the background.

I was just annoyed that you weren't coming with me to my audition. He was like, look, I'm going to be there. Just come. And I'll be there and you'll be there. There'll be other people, you know, it's, it'll be fine. It'll be fine. So I, I didn't know that there was that much scar tissue that you were working through. I mean, for you to be able to remember the setting when the phrase happened, that's some deep, deep scar tissue that happened. And for you to have worked through that now and,

been able to stand on stage, sing, perform hilariously and amazingly in that show. That means even more to me now. I mean, because I love you so much and I just wanna hug you now because... Yes, Zoom hug. I didn't know it was that difficult. So I apologize on one hand for...

one hand for my sternness and demanding that you go, but also I am so grateful that you did. Yeah, it's funny too, the very first role that I was ever cast in was, I was cast as an elderly preacher. I played Jim Casey in The Grapes of Wrath and like the show opens with him

off tune, like his version of this, I don't, I don't remember if it's like, I want to say it was a pop song that he is then making his own religious lyrics up for. And like that was the opening, like the, like the lights come up, I'm sitting on the stage by myself and I have to do that, like out the gate sort of thing. And it was like, that was so different because it was like, because it was such a like character role.

And I was in full, like, old band makeup and wearing, like, I was basically a vagrant, right? So I'm, like, dirty and gross. And I'm laughing at my own lyrics that I'm making up. So it was just it was not like a stand and deliver a song kind of situation. And so that I was kind of OK with. I was just like, you go into the rehearsal room and you just kind of do it.

And it's like, it's funnier, the more off key you do it sort of thing. So it was not as big of a deal, but then to like, I can still remember our musical director in and spelling bee, like playing the same thing over like 17,000 times for me for like the, all of like two bars that I was saying. And I'm like, I can hear it, but I have no idea how to do it. I mean, to make it, make this, make it happen. Yeah. Absolutely. Um, so.

So, but yeah, that was that experience doing spelling view was so magical for that reason. It's funny looking back on it. It's, you know, like someone could say that something like that to me now. And I would just kind of be like, well, that person's an asshole, but just kind of go about my day, right? Right, right. Right. Like it wouldn't be like a, I'm going to commit this to memory and this is going to change my life. But because there was enough, you know, in middle school, everyone's so insecure.

So we're so ready and primed looking for what's wrong with us. Yeah. That then when someone is ever so kind to offer us an example of what's wrong with us. Whether we ask for it or not. Right. And it's like, thank you for your feedback. But I didn't ask for it. You know, it just, it hits so differently. But after doing that experience, you know, one of the, I think just doing it and being

like, I can do this. I know I'm able to match pitches or whatever. I think the part of that experience that I enjoyed the most was actually like, because I was playing these sort of character bit roles in between, then I also got to sing like, literally all of the ensemble numbers, even though I wasn't on stage for it was just like, well, we need more people like on, you know, this line.

sing the majority of a show like live for an audience with no actual musical theater background. And I remember there was the night that my parents came to see the show. They like drove in from out of town. And I remember my mom telling me she was like, and I could hear you on the ensemble parts too. And you were really good. Because it was like the parts that I did.

as my characters on stage were like, my character had a lisp and they were like weird pieces or whatever and she's like, I could hear you singing, you know, and the onslaught parts and it was really, really good. I was like, thank you. You know, that was so impactful. And then the following year I went, and this was kind of how I knew that that experience had changed me was like, less than a year later, I went with my friend Rachel to New York. We saw

shows in a week like you should do if you're in New York. And one of the shows that we went to see was The Revival of Carousel, which was amazing. And after the show, we were doing the stage door thing. And we were not expecting to see some of, I mean, it was just like everyone was in the show.

but we weren't really expecting to like bigger name people to really come out. And they all did including Renee Fleming. And who's you know just like the soprano in the entire world. And she walks over to my friend Rachel and me and we were of course like oh my god you were amazing it was beautiful. And she's like oh are you guys singers too? And without even blinking

I responded yes. And then like, you know, Renee Fleming glides away on a beautiful cloud or whatever. And which by the way, she was like so kind and gracious and amazing like in person too. And then it like hit me as we're walking away from the theater like, I just told Renee Fleming that I'm a singer.

So I was like, so I guess I am now because I can't have lied to Ruth. Right. Can't have done that. Yeah. So, so yeah, and it's all because of that show. You're welcome. Exactly. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right. All right.

Alright Caleb, well, down's the time in the show. It's probably one of my favorite times of the show because it's the part of the show where we kind of expose all of our commonalities. There are a lot of people in the world that deal with down times, depression, sadness, and a lot of people think they're alone. But as I like to tell folks, we're not alone. Everybody goes through those times. And so my question I pose to you is, how do you stay

positive and how do you keep the dark at bay?

Yeah. So let me lead by saying really what we were talking about earlier with, with art, with creativity is absolutely where I turn to. Dr. Edith Eager says that the opposite of depression is

powerful. You know, I've heard it put also that like, you know, the opposite of play isn't work. The opposite of play is depression. I've heard that too. And so I think, you know, for me, and something that I have learned in my like three years or so up here, and really in doing theater, right, in Georgia as well, is that like, I have to have creativity

in my week or that light just kind of goes out. It has been, and like I don't say this hyperbolically, it has been life saving, life changing for me personally. And so, you know, Rob or Nina knows this, but for your listeners too, I guess providing you trigger warnings around depression, suicidality.

But about two years ago, I found myself in a really weird mental health place where I had gotten out of the marriage that I mentioned earlier on. That was a very unhelpful relationship. It was abusive. There was infidelity. It was just not a good situation.

And it, in kind of working with therapists up here, I learned that from that I had developed PTSD. I had developed panic disorder. I was just, I was a nervous wreck for lack of a better term, like all the time. And so the fall of 2019, I went into kind of a depressive,

streak. I was getting more and more overwhelmed with the panic symptoms. The PTSD was interesting for people who have not dealt with it before. I'm so glad for anyone who's never dealt with PTSD. I'm so glad that you haven't because what I learned and worked with my therapist here is that your

difference between one type of trauma and another. And so the major PTSD symptoms for me really set in after I had a car wreck. I was in the car by myself. I was at an intersection right near my apartment. And I came out of it totally unscathed physically. Like I was banged up, you know, bruised, but I was fine.

anything. But it was like a T-bone car wreck on the driver side. And so coming back to the idea of you know your body and your brain don't really know the difference between one trauma and the next, what I learned and kind of the aftermath of that was that all of these past traumas started coming back up. Because my brain and experiencing that, oh god I'm literally going to die,

moment of that car wreck brought back up these past traumas from this past relationship Abuse from much earlier in my life. And so just panic set in PTSD symptoms set in so I like I said I was just in Not a great place. I At the time I had had a Bit of a falling out with some immediate family members one of my closest friends was

angry at me for something. My partner and I were fighting at one point. And I just started rather than reaching out to people like you or, you know, my other sort of my other who will help me hide the body friends. Rather than reaching out, I just sort of turned inward and closed myself off.

know how deeply I was struggling. Kind of up to and including my partner Matt, you know, he would see me have a panic attack or he would be able to tell I was depressed. But even from him, I would keep at least some part of like the severity of the symptoms away from him. And so I when I was much younger would engage in self harm. That symptoms,

came back in fall 2019 and it led up to

I went and took a hike one day in October through Letchworth, which is a nearby state park, which is gorgeous. If you're ever in New York in the fall, go to Letchworth. I was supposed to go there that day, October 19th, with my partner. He was feeling under the weather physically that day, and so I ended up just going on my own. And it was like really beautiful.

beautiful. I like took a bunch of gorgeous pictures on this hike, but nothing felt quite right. Like in looking back at the pictures even today, like, I mean, the leaves turning it's gorgeous. I mean, just like drop dead gorgeous sort of thing. And I remember not feeling anything. I remember walking by groups of friends that were hiking together and

with young kids and feeling like basically nothing other than like maybe jealousy for like what it like what it was that they seemed like they were able to experience that I wasn't able to experience right um on the drive home it's about it's about an hour from my from my place that park is and was like on the drive home I just got into like this worse and worse and worse headspade

And I was experiencing suicidal ideations. I was thinking about, you know, what if I pull my car off the side of the road, you know, or into the oncoming traffic or all these sorts of things. I got home. And again, it was that situation where what I know now and the coping skills I know now, there are, I would, I would just start calling people, you know, I like, all right, if you're in a bad place, you need to call.

Did you start calling friends until you get a hold of someone? Like I've kind of learned that now. At the time I didn't have that in my back pocket. Didn't reach out to anybody for hours. I remember I was up really, really late into the evening. And then I made this sort of like half-hearted, last ditch attempt to text a friend of mine. But it was, I mean, it was probably one in the morning, you know?

course they didn't respond. And actually it's one of those like I've never told that friends that that happened to be the person that I was texting like I don't intend to sort of thing right because it was absolutely I had nothing to do with them. But um,

I was like, well, no one cares. I'm in this terrible place. I'm up here by myself, and I just started going through my medicine cabinet. And I just started taking medication. And it would have been a very dangerous overdose kind of situation. About the time that I started doing that.

whatever reason, something went through my head like, the fuck are you doing? Right? Like, what are you actually doing? And I forced myself to throw up, apparently got enough of it back out of my system to where like, I mean, I was already not feeling well when this happened. But, you know, still felt kind of sick. But I was like, okay, so this is an emergency situation.

have to take myself to the hospital. And so I ended up in a, in a psych ward for a week, which was somewhere that I like, you know, it's kind of up there with prison or the White House as far as places that I thought I would end up. But you know, that was that whole experience, even though it was so traumatic in so many different ways.

It was also one of the best things that could have ever happened to me because of how it turned out. So I don't say that lightly. It's not like, well, I mean, I really wish that anybody listening would go spend some time in a psych ward. I don't recommend the experience. Find yourself some intensive weekly therapy for a sort of thing. But one of the most beautiful things that

came out of that experience was I learned that I had to be more vulnerable with people. I learned that I could not always be the person that was just helping others. I needed to learn to be okay with telling people like, hey, I'm in a place where like, I'm not feeling great. I'm needing some help. Or like, I don't know.

to do, right? Asking people for advice. Up until then, I could probably count on one hand the number of times that I would even go to really close friends of mine and be like, you know, this is really troubling me. What do you think? What do you think I should do? I think I in some way thought that like I was above meeting help, um, which is just not at all a healthy perspective to take, right? Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right.

You know, I'm just constantly wanting to do what's best for other people. You know, I don't want to inconvenience anyone. I don't want to bother anyone. And I mean, really, it's, you know, we're hardwired for connection with other people. Like in this country, we have it in our heads that we're supposed to be able to just exist independent of each other. And that is so off. It's so wrong. But that was very much that.

of individualistic mindset was the one that I was in. And so, like I said, one of the most beautiful things that came out of that experience of being hospitalized, being in having to leave the job that I was in at the time. That was the other thing that I forgot to mention was I had this awful, awful experience at the job that I had. It was just a very difficult work environment. And it was exactly the wrong place for me at that time.

But, you know, in that aftermath of this hospitalization, I ended up, you know, I had to leave that job. I was, you know, on unemployment, which is something that I never thought would happen. But it really did, it gave me the time to realize that, like, I needed to be able to ask other people for help and rely on other people. And then the other beautiful thing that came out of that was,

really a returning to myself with being a creative person and being an artist. So kind of like I was telling you before about like, until Renee Fleming asked me, I would have never called myself a singer. Also prior to this experience, I would have never called myself an artist at all. That would feel very highfalutin of me. That would feel very pretentious for me to say that I was an artist.

that like I've done off and on, you know, my entire life, but it's never been something that I really did with any regularity. And I think it was in large part because I didn't see the point in it. Yeah. I didn't think that it was productive. It was not on my way to any of the career goals that I had or, you know, marrying and having the 1.5 kids in the picket fence. Mm-hmm.

I didn't do it. But I mean, the reality of the situation wasn't what I learned in this experience was if I don't have art of some form in my regular everyday life, that's when that darkness comes back that you asked about. That's when the depression comes back. It's I think something that we lose when we're little.

Some of us make our way back to that light and I do kind of wonder for people who don't have some kind of play, maybe it's athletics, right? For people who don't have some kind of play in their day, if it is possible to do that and not be in that dark place. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And that's...

What you're saying rings very close to me in my situation that I've been through in the past. It's almost there's a low sense of worth of yourself. And she's like, well, I'm just so tired of all of this. You know, and you know, and I'm not worthy of having, you know, a happiness or a joy or a, you know, a passion. Or like you said, this is, this seems like a waste of time to get from

to get from point A to point B and it's always time to take this detour. But also, like you said, being able to find something else to focus on, to take your attention away from that, because that will take all of your attention. It is an attention whore and it will want your eyes on it all the time. So if you can find something to focus on outside of that, if you can find somebody to talk to. Again, you know.

to counseling is great, but going to counseling doesn't have to mean laying on a couch somewhere. It's a conversation. It's a conversation like we're having right now, a conversation with a friend. If you can't get a hold of someone that you know, there's always help available. There's the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that's out there, 1-800-273-8255. If you need that, you know, call it. There is someone on the other end that will listen to you.

you that cares about you, that doesn't want you to to let your light go out 100%. Absolutely. And so I think it's so important to have these discussions like we're having to take the stigma away from mental health, to take the power away from it. I say all the time, you know, I, I, I call myself Big Rob. I'm a fat guy. I own being a big

guy and I wear it like armor because I took the power away from that word. If I call myself fat first, you can't hurt me with that word because I took the power away from it. So we have to take the power away from that stigma of having mental health issues. It's a health issue that affects your mind. And that's what we've got to do. We've got to take that stigma away.

folks seeking help in that type of situation. Absolutely. And I will say too to that, like anytime that I see like, you know, the awesome artwork for this podcast, or I see anywhere where you're talking about being Big Rob, like it's funny because when I hear you say that, I just think like big personality, like you have such a presence, like you have a big heart, you know? Like you're a tall dude too. Like, I mean,

And so, you know, that's kind of like my immediate sort of got reactions that but I will say too with that with those those help lines something that I was taught to do in the therapy that I went to after the crisis that I went through is that I now have a little note card that I keep in my wallet at all times that has The phone numbers of my again my like hide the body friends on there.

It has my therapist phone number. It has, there's like a local crisis line and anywhere that you're listening to this to, there's probably a local crisis team of some sort. It also has that national hotline on there as well because I learned that, you know, if I'm in that position ever again, where I think that there's, who could I possibly call?

Right? I've already done the legwork for myself. Yeah. And kind of bringing things full circle with what we're talking about at the beginning. Brene Brown, who I'm obsessed with. If you don't know Brene Brown, stop what you're doing and look her up. She's a shame and vulnerability researcher, but she said that there are people who use their creativity and people who don't.

an unused creativity is not benign. And she went on to say that what she means by that is that that unused creativity, it doesn't go away, it metastasizes like a cancer. And so whatever play or creativity looks like for you, it's not that no matter who told you, like in my case, I was told I couldn't sing, right?

the line I learned I couldn't call myself an artist. And now I'm like, well, haha, middle fingers all of you, I'm an artist and a singer. So there, you know, um, but there are not people who just can't do creative things. There are people who don't do things that are creative. But those people are probably having some struggles and they're probably mental health struggles like what we're talking about.

That can look like cooking, that can look like, you know, visual art, theater, music, dance, athletics. You know, there are so many different things that writing that you can do. But coming back to that, that what Bernay Brown said, like if you don't use it, it's gonna move around somewhere and it's gonna get lodged and you gotta let it out.

Sorry, Caleb. This is our last segment here. So it's our Fast Five. Fast Five, Fast Five. I don't have the theme song or anything like that. So it's our Fast Five. Fast Five is the Fast Five with Big Rob and Caleb. So this is from an app called Poddex. My friend Travis created this app for podcasters, make it easy to have conversations, but it's great for like parties and things like that. If you just want like ice breakers, questions like that. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna hit the random button on here.

And we're just gonna go through five questions. You give me that first answer that comes off top of your head. And let's just see how you fare against the fast five. All right, here we go.

How long would you last on the Great British Baking Show? Oh my God. So I have watched all eight seasons of that that are on Netflix. And the masterclass. Oh my God. I'm obsessed with Great British Baking Show. I'm actually a pretty good baker. So I think I would probably last at least the first few weeks. Okay. Would there be a week you would excel in?

bonus. This is not one of the guys that would be like, would you do great at like pastry week or bread week or? I think I would win at biscuit week, which for us Americans are cookies. That's what I definitely bake best. Okay. All right. All right. Let's go to question number two.

How do you feel about putting pineapple on pizza? I am strongly against it. Pineapple, I don't mind pineapple juice, you know, like pina colada kind of situation. The flavor itself is fine. That texture is disgusting. It is horrible. So hard pass on the pineapple pizza. Okay. All right. Question number three.

Do you have any phobias? Absolutely I do. I am terrified of spiders. I wanna say it's because I watched Arachnophobia, the movie when I was in fourth grade. Thank you, older cousins of mine that shall remain nameless. I think it's from that, but like I'm absolutely terrified of spiders.

And so I will say, you know, in talking about living on my own for the first time and moving up here to Rochester, one of the hardest things I had to learn was like, if there's a bug in your house and you live alone, either you move or you get to deal with it. That's right. It's on you to figure it out. Yeah. Any, any creepy crawly things, but in particular spiders. Okay. All right. Question number four.

If you could be reincarnated as any animal, what animal would you choose? Oh man. I feel like it would probably be some kind of like little fluffy cuddly puppy. I feel like I'm looking at my dog, Oscar, right now who's just like living his best life, just like laying on the rug and like loves to be hugged.

and cuddled. That's really pretty much all I need in life is like to be able to be comfy and cuddled. I think I'd be a little fluffy puppy. I love the dog's life. Absolutely. I know my dogs are spoiled for sure. All right, this is our last one. Question number five. Have you ever sleep walked or talked in your sleep?

So to my knowledge, I have never sleep walked. I've not been told that I sleep talk, but my partner is deaf. So that would be hard for him to know. But one thing that I do do that I'm aware of, and I think it has to do with one of my medications that I take at night, it pretty much knocks me out. You know, I sleep really,

only, but I oftentimes wake up in bed with food that I don't remember getting. Oh, wow. So 100% at the very least, I think I get up like in that sort of in between time of like, I'm super sedated by medication and I'm fully asleep. And my little one bedroom apartment, the pantry is in the hallway connected to my bedroom. And so I think it's just like the food's right there.

And so it's just easy to make my way there and qualify that as sleepwalking I mean, yeah, but like I said, I feel like it's a I Feel like I'm I'm still awake on some of it when the walking happens But remember that you got up out of the bed and got yourself a snack I'm gonna I'm gonna qualify that as sleepwalking. I'm gonna tell you yes You have sleepwalked and sleep snack. So that's I would qualify that as sleepwalking

I did send my my partner Matt a text message a few weeks ago with a picture of myself of like I woke up like this but it was a picture of me in bed in my pajamas with a box of cat and crunch I texted him and I was like sweetheart I'm so sorry I woke up with another man in my bed I was like please don't kill the

But yeah, so that's definitely a problem. I think that that's where my COVID weight gain has come from for sure. Exactly. Waking up with various snacks. But from your sleepwalking, I'm gonna tell you right now that's from your sleepwalking. Okay. Well, Caleb, thank you so much for being on with me today. It's a pleasure to see your face first and foremost because I've missed you. I have missed connecting like this and it was a pleasure to do it in this type of form

to have you here with me, here with everyone, and just to reconnect. So thank you so much for agreeing to be on the show. No, thank you for having me. One of the things that I grew obsessed with during COVID were podcasts. I think what I started doing when I was kind of feeling alone living on my own here and like I had a few friends recommend different podcasts to me and so like having

other human voices and like people talking about really cool, interesting things. And you know, it's really helped me get through this process. So like being on a podcast, super cool. Mark it off the bucket list. I know, but it's so cool getting to be on your podcast with you and getting to see you because like I live a thousand miles away and that sucks. Oh, we'll get together again soon. They're opening Broadway again. Maybe we can

Times Square and see a show or something like that sometime soon. Yes, please. Caleb, is there anywhere where folks can find you any of your socials you want to post? Maybe where some folks can see your art or something like that? Absolutely. So I will say I'm more of a social media like stalker person rather than that sounds bad, doesn't it? I observe her. Yes, I am more of a consumer on social media.

a soccer. There you go. But I will say I do post some of my art on Instagram at WC underscore RB. I think you can probably just search WC RB as a boy, but WC underscore RB on Instagram is probably the best place to find me. Awesome. And that way we can get some of those motivational quotes and things like that that you post with your beautiful art in the background. You were talking about the quotes earlier

friend of mine that does a podcast call a moment with Moj. He posts them daily. It's a little, little short, you know, two to four minute podcasts. He does a lot of quoting of like Marcus Aurelius and folks like that. And just to, just to get your day started, right? Uh, so that has quickly become one of my favorite podcasts. So a little cross cross podcast pollination right there. So if you haven't had a chance to check out a moment with Moj, MOJ, uh, you look at that for,

wherever you find this podcast and other podcasts as well. Of course, you can find me at chewing the fat BR like Big Robb chewingthefatBR on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. That's the website as well. Chewingthefatbr.com. You can find me on there. If you'd like to support the podcast, you can buy me a coffee on there as well. Caleb, thank you again so much for being on the show. No, thank you so much for having me. Can I leave your listeners with a quote? Absolutely.

Go ahead. So, like you said at the start of this, and also like Steven Sondheim wrote, no one is alone.

William Caleb Rivera-BloodworthProfile Photo

William Caleb Rivera-Bloodworth

Communications and Learning Officer, Urban League of Rochester

I have been an artist for as long as I can remember and have been working diligently in community-based organizations across the country for over a decade.

From the classroom to the boardroom, I have tackled a myriad of roles—including teacher, designer, interpreter, program director, communications officer, and board member—in pursuit of a kinder, more equitable, and more beautiful world.

I hold a Master of Arts from the University of California at Davis and a Bachelor of Arts from Berry College in Georgia. My dog Oscar and I have called Rochester, NY, home since 2018.