Colony of Losers- Fuck Stigma and Mental Illness, I'm like 25

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Cure#2: Reassuring Myself to Panic

Posted on | July 4, 2010 | 3 Comments

November 3, 2009

Trying to find the date my life changed has obsessed me since things began spinning out of control. I felt if I could find the exact place and time where the balances tipped I could reach out and grab hold of that Archimedes point and shift the universe back in my favor.

Unfortunately it is not that easy to pinpoint. There are seven years of ups and downs, a hundred moments where I should have, could have and absolutely wished I realized I had a problem and didn’t.

Instead this story focuses on when I realized I needed to get help and how I found it.

It is day three on my internship at the local paper. My body has a built in biological clock, set to piss me off by waking me up every hour on the hour, to make sure I don’t sleep through my alarm clock.

The last two nights my girlfriend has been able to get me to go back to sleep by cuddling me when I wake up.  I remember thinking look down at her as the sun slowly rose to meet the early hours of the morning that I was the luckiest man in the world, sleeping with her arm over my chest, feeling her pulse syncopating with my heartbeat.

The next night we slept at my place, only I couldn’t sleep at all.

On my clothing covered floor, past the collection of roach joints, water jug begging to be spilled by my sleepy klutzy self lies two discarded wigs, one red, one blue. For Halloween my girlfriend and I had gone as characters from Jem and the Holograms. I of course had gone as a bearded Kimber and more closely resembled the dude from Police Academy that set Jay Leno’s set on fire. The fire engine red of my room shines in the dying darkness of a new day.

My alarm clock goes off.

“Fuck,” she says and turns over, pushing the blanket covers off of her back, revealing the silk soft skin from her back and shoulders where her short shiksa blond hair rests in early morning tangle.

“Good morning,” I say, noticing my voice is shaky and wondering why.

The alarm clock continues to punch me in the brain.

I get up and go turn off the alarm clock. And I suddenly feel this strength surge of adrenaline in my arm. Like someone injected caffeine into my veins intravenously. My stomach fills with acid and I know I am going to throw up.

Fuck.

“Sleepy time,” she says. “Have a good day at work.”

I don’t have the time to tell her anything reassuring.

I run to my bathroom and began emptying my stomach of burning hot yellow bile, trying to catch my breath and find it impossible.  The muscles in my stomach tighten and seize like I am in the middle of a push up.  My lungs gasp for air. Leg can’t stop shaking.  Cue more vomiting.

This is not a quiet process and when I enter the room she is looking at me with worry filling her ocean blue eyes. The worry is not simply based on how nauseating it is to hear someone puking their guts out.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

Another injection of coffee directly into my veins. I can feel the adrenaline sliding up from my fingertips up to my elbow to my shoulders to my neck and directly into my brain. I’m running and standing still.

“I’m fine,” I say and my voice cracks as I have entered a new and terrifying form of puberty.

My legs shake.

She looks down.

“Twitch much?” she asks and I laugh. Most things can be changed with a few words from her.

She takes my hand and guides me back to bed.

“What’s wrong?” she asks.

Before we met, I woke up most mornings with a tightness in my stomach and a terrible urge to vomit up my stomach lining.  My roommates Hermit and EMC discovered this upon moving in with me. They briefly considered that I had a secret drinking problem taking into account my early morn retching.

For the first six months of our relationship it went away the second I opened up my eyes and say the most beautiful girl in the world lying next to me.

Only today is not an ordinary day. The season has changed and my mind is experiencing a change in its spectrum of light.

“I don’t know,” I say and I don’t and it scares me and my heart responds beats faster and faster.  I tell myself there is nothing to worry about but my inner voice doesn’t speak in reassurance but in a panicked tone racing along with my heartbeat. It’s angry and shaken and it scares me even more to realize how scared I am.

“Come on babe,” she says. “Everything is ok.”

I’m experiencing for the first time in my life what I came to refer to as the slide.  This is the process of reassuring yourself into utter panic. My hurried voice begging everything to return to normal becomes a preacher of utter and total chaos. Feeling the floor coming out from under me.

“I don’t know,” I say.

“It’s not what we talked about last night,” she says. “You know how I feel.”

On November 1st, my best friend and former roommate Herman Dagwood moved in with my girlfriend. This had nothing to do with me.  His previous slumlord had refused to provide his apartment with heat and it was two months before he was given a functioning refrigerator.

However like anyone in a relationship I didn’t go into it without my own fears and insecurities. The last girl I had been in love with fell in love with my childhood best friend. As a result I had an ingrained fear that this girl who I loved more than anything else in the world would do the same with my present best friend.

As I have a strange desire to be aggressively and senselessly honest with the people I love the first moment this feeling began to occur to me I went to my girlfriend in order to explain my fear and move past it. She laughed at me a little and humoured my insanity as she tends to.  We kissed and we moved past it.

And I thought I had.

“No,” I say. “I was acting ridiculous.”

And I was. There is little to no correlation between the two situations. Logically I knew the difference and where my feelings came from.

However at the mention of our discussion yesterday my blood begins to boil in my veins.

I sit down. She rubs my back.  Kisses my ear.

It feels like her cool breath is moving through my skin touching my veins and putting out the fires inside me. I believe her and I know what she’s saying is true and more than anything I don’t want to feel like this.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

“I can’t go in for work today,” I say.

It’s the third day of my internship.  Six months past my 25th birthday. I have no idea what I’m doing with my life and it scares me half to death.

“Why?” she asks.

“I don’t feel good,” I say. “I feel really fucked up.”

“You can’t go to work?” she asks.

“No.”

As if pleased with my response my body decides to throw another surge of adrenaline at me. My insides are building a staircase to my brain, increasing the pressure with the roof offering no signs of giving way.  I lie back down on my bed, trying to stands still and failing.

“You ok?” she asks.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME? WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?

And she means something different.  She kisses my lips and it makes me feel better but it’s like the refreshing feel of rain while you are bathing in lava.

“No,” I say.  “I don’t think I am.”

“We’ll figure it out,” she says and kisses me again. “Just relax.”

I get up and call my work and tell them I am not feeling well. Next I call my parents and tell them I think something has gone wrong.

And now begins the story of the long search for the cure and the people who helped me to stop looking.

Welcome to the Colony of Losers, a world of quarter life crises, anxiety, depression and the friends and the failures on the way to your future. This is the story of Michael Kimber’s panicked fall into adulthood.

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3 Responses to “The Cure#2: Reassuring Myself to Panic”

  1. Caitlin
    July 4th, 2010 @ 11:31 am

    I have two thumbs, they are both up. Looking forward to the next.

  2. Matty
    July 4th, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Hey Kimber for the first time I had a little time on my hands and decided to finally give your stuff a read. I have to say I feel like a ass for not doing doing it sooner. Especially after reading the cure part 1 and 2. Your are a brillant writer and capture a natural element of reality and unique sense of humor in your stories. Please deliver part 3 soon!!

  3. Julia Smith
    July 4th, 2010 @ 1:31 pm

    You really described that whole process perfectly, Michael. My husband has bipolar disorder with a lovely side order of agoraphobia. He experiences these ‘slides’ on a regular basis. But he’s been treated for his disorder since his late 20′s and does very well for someone with his condition. I’m quite certain that part of the reason he does so well is that he began his treatment ‘early’ for his type of mental illness. Bipolar is typically not diagnosed until the person has accumulated a personal history of numerous failed relationships, multiple bankruptcies, a long string of failed jobs and an ever-shortening list of friends and family that can still handle the rollercoaster of being around the person. Not to mention a history of substance abuse.

    Once you realize that you have a mental illness and treat it, and stop thinking that you can snap yourself out of it (all of the ‘its’ that plague you) you can appreciate that it’s virtually impossible to ‘carry on’ when you’re not well. My husband has a part time job because he knows absolutely that he can’t guarantee that he will be well on a regular basis. But he can cope with the part time shifts very well and now barely ever misses work.

    He has also started acupuncture in the last year, and the difference in him is remarkable. He has missed three major downers that occur like clockwork in the winter, spring and summer. It’s not that he’s had a miracle cure by any means, but there are so many subtle differences in him, it’s astounding. We’re about to celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary, so I can assure you I’ve been there through all of the normal seasons of his disorder. This year with the acupuncture has been his best year since I’ve known him. For one thing, he normally trembles, and he hasn’t been trembling now for months.

    I really appreciated your insiders’ viewpoint post, Michael. Definitely looking forward to the next one.
    Julia Smith´s last blog ..Weekend Writers Retreat – 14 My ComLuv Profile

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  • About

    Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalist who suffered a nervous breakdown on November 3rd, 2009. On March 28th, 2010 when he recovered from mental illness, he began writing a blog called Colony-of-losers. About falling on your face to figure out who you are and the hilarious antics of a blond jew. What began with a few friends and his mother reading has become a cult phenomenon, averaging 10,000 views a week, receiving praise from Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and many others. On, November 3rd, 2010, the one year anniversary of his mental breakdown he signed with Anne McDermid and Associates, the largest literary agency in Canada. In a year he went from wearing pajamas, making his couch depression HQ to leaving his hometown for the Toronto, where he exclusively wears business suits and the armor of ancient Greeks. Don't worry, he's still choking on the feet he contently sticks in his mouth and making moments awkward just by being part of them. During these struggles he met other talented bastards and drew them into his circle. Peter Diamond became his illustrator. Patrick Campbell his video editor and part time photographer. He recently added the incredibly talented John Packman as Colony of Losers Toronto photographer. Without the support of the Colony of Losers, Michael Kimber would be nothing. Welcome to the losers and the success that comes from utter and complete failure. You aren’t alone. Follow him on twitter.com/colonyoflosersand twitter.com/quimbo. If you’d like to hire him for a public speaking engagement for mental health events in Toronto, like to arrange an interview, offer millions to publish his book or for another reason contact Michael please email him. And join his facebook Colony of Losers.

    Really obvious disclaimer:
    I’m not a trained psychologist. Just a fellow traveler. If you need help seek it from the professionals. The Canadian Mental Health Association provides a help locator. You can find crisis resources provided by the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. If you are in the states check here. It will give you services by zip code. I’d also recommend checking out Mindyourmind.ca. I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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