FROM suffering from depression to being suicidal and dropping out of school and now at thetender age of 15, he is a self-published author.Josh Crickmay (20), from Hilton, has published his first book telling about his experiences.His book, titled Josh’s Big Year, was launched in Durban last Tuesday and in Hilton last Thursday.Josh dropped out of school in 2012, and his parents, Andrew and Kathy, quit their jobs and began a journey to find Josh a reason to live and function, which they did by building and rekindling Josh’s interest in birding, photography and writing.Speaking to Maritzburg Fever, Josh said it began when he “hit rock bottom” and his parents had to take him out of school.He said that in 2013 he and his parents began an extraordinary journey of identifying 1 000 birds in a year. His parents were in a fortunate position that Andrew was able to ask his brother-in-law, Luke McNally, to run his business while he was away. Kathy had resigned from teaching before to help manage Josh’s particular challenges daily, and with an incredible support system, they were able to take a “gap year’ as a family.They travelled for a year to every corner of southern Africa and spent seven weeks in the Amazon and Andes in what is known in birding as the “Big Year”, where you have to identify as many birds as you can in one year.“When I started thinking about writing a book my aim was to share my story in the hope that when people read it they will be encouraged and learn something from my experience.“I also wanted to share the adventure of the Big Year challenge and the beauty of birding and the world around us.“In 2014, I wrote the first edition and then rewrote it in 2015. It took me two years to do so because I wanted to do it by myself, from layout, pictures, maps and writing the story. I even self-published it at Pinetown Printers,” he said.He said he discovered his love for writing during the Big Year when he wrote a blog about the journey.“I also wrote for Birdlife South Africa in their e-newsletter every month. When I started writing this book, I believed I had a unique story to tell, and that simply drove me.”Josh’s parents said they are very proud of him.“Although we provided the correct environment for Josh to rediscover his hope and vision for the future, he has been full of courage and worked unbelievable hard to produce a beautiful book, and an exciting website.“Josh left school halfway through Grade 9. School became impossible for him — a combination of stress, anxiety, sensory overload, poor auditory processing, obsessive compulsive disorder and much frustration and anger at being misunderstood — all led to him refusing to go to school, which resulted in severe depression and suicidal thoughts as he was convinced that if you can’t ‘do school’ then you can’t do life,” they said.Josh has also launched his website joshcrikmay.com and said when he has his next adventure he will write another book. Josh’s book is being sold on his website.