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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Cure#4:Going Nuts and Buying Almonds

Posted on | July 6, 2010 | 2 Comments

November 18th, 2009

“Where are the nuts?” I ask the clerk.

He looks at me like I’m an idiot.

I realize I’m not being specific enough.

“The almonds.”

He points to an aisle at the end of the gigantic store.

“Thanks,” I say and begin my journey.

There is a chemical in your brain called GABA.

Consider this to be the holy grail of calm, cool and collected.

Without it, you will have anxiety symptoms, irritability, lowered sex drive and even seizures.

You can buy GABA in its pure chemical form but it has trouble breaking the blood-brain barrier. Which is why I need almonds. My body can break down the GABA in the almonds.

I recognize I’m being irrational. That doesn’t change my belief that somehow this might help me step back from the dream my life has become.

Being anxious all the time requires an extreme amount of energy. That hot coffee injected into your skin , tingling and kicking in your brain, depletes your cortisol levels and leaves you feeling anything from completely exhausted to amped out of your mind.

Right now I’m amped.

A Kimber blur moves across the Shopper’s Drug Mart, eyes keen for a first glimpse of almonds.

A homely senior citizen gives me a look as I pass him by. His ear hair is in an angry curl and his weathered lips open to say something. Before the arteries in his desiccated body can grind together so his douche-bag lungs can take in the air necessary to say whatever it is he feels, I’m half away across the store.

By the time he mumbles to himself, “Slow down. These aisles is walking aisles…” I’m passed the puberty explosion working the cosmetics counter and the mother of three yelling at her children to “just pick one candy and let’s get the hell out of here.”

And then I look down and see the almonds. Salted almonds. I don’t want the salted almonds.

Saturated fats and sodium take a lot of energy to break down and are bad for people suffering anxiety.

Yes, I do realize I’m the same Mike Kimber who has lived on fatty fast food for years and years. But now, in one week, I will make up for all my sins.

I finally find the unsalted almonds.

My friend is looking through the huge vitamin section hoping to find a cure for his (recent dramatic mood shifts. He is 25, shockingly good looking, and possesses a maturity beyond most people our age. Most schools would offer a lot of money for him to attend their schools. None of this matters. He is worried about his future and a general sense of having no idea where he is going in life. As a result he is driving me to the Shopper’s Drug Mart. We recognize what we are doing is stupid but don’t quite know what else to do.

We have become brothers in brooding, worried that our worry will worry our girlfriends, friends and family.

One day he comforts me. The next I comfort him.

He drives me out of town so we can take nature walks as the first snow falls.  He smokes joints and I watch him. I recently decided to quit. The consequences of this haven’t shown up yet.

He’s holding a bottle of 5-HTP.

According to the internet this will raise his serotonin levels. Depleted serotonin results in depression-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, lack of enjoyment of things you used to take pleasure in.

My friend knows this because I know this. I’m the expert on all things depression related. My training in journalism has equipped me with excellent research skills. As such I have read everything there is to read on the topic, and there is a lot. I’ve unfortunately forgotten all the lessons I learned concerning reputable sources.

“You should have been on the track team,” says my pal, with a laugh.

“I’m in excellent shape,” I say, flexing my gigantic muscles. “What can I say?”

If you haven’t met me in my person I guess I should describe myself.

I’m ripped. Maybe the strongest person you have ever met. I could lift a 20-ton truck and spin it in the air to save an orphan’s life. My abs resemble Super Macho Man’s from Mike Tyson’s Punch Out. My pecs can wink at a beautiful blond from 30 paces and drive her mad with desire. And if you have met me and know that is total bullshit, keep it to yourself.

In truth, I’ve been described as the Jewish Macauly Culkin equipped with a ginger beard. I’ve also been called Steve Buscemi by people ignorant of my beauty, and Edward Norton by people who wear glasses and aren’t fucking stupid.

I smell like bacon and eggs and Old Spice.  My hair can get floppy and when I want to look my best I put on a Western Shirt that I feel makes me look independent. I have more chest hair than you would expect but not to the extent that a bear would try to mate with me.  “You got your nuts?” he asks.

“Almonds… and yes I have my nuts,” I say.  “Circumcised not castrated. I have so much to teach you about being a Jew.”

My girlfriend always teases me about being a fake Jew. She worked in a Jewish bakery and knows more about my culture than I do.

“What else?” he asks.

He knows I have a list.

“Seasons change,” I say.  “Need that Vitamin D, homie.”

He grabs it. One for each of us. $9.95 per bottle.

“What else?” he asks.

“B Vitamins,” I say.

B Vitamins are the standard recommendation for people who suffer anxiety and don’t want medication. B vitamins keep you calm, turn fats and proteins into energy and help you maintain a decent level of cortisol.  They also cost $12.95. But again you can’t really put a price on your mental health. Vitamin E is good sexual health. Same price.

I feel like a kid in a dentist’s office.

Then we get to the hippies drug counter. This is where they keep the serious shit.  St John’s Wort. Rhodiola. Super vitamins.

Substances that take three weeks to build up and hypothetically serve the same purpose as drugs like Prozac and Wellbutrin.

I bring them up to the pharmacist.

“Do these work?” I ask.

He looks at the S.t John’s Wort, snickers and goes straight faced.

“For some people,” he says.

Really?

“The thing most people don’t realize is that vitamins and herbs are medicine,” he says. “Same as something your doctor would give you a prescription for. See where it says that it works for some people. That side effects may vary?  Well they do. A lot of people feel really sick when they start taking this stuff and it takes weeks to work. Only it’s not regulated like prescription medication and can be contaminated.”

“I see,” I say. “So it’s bullshit?”

He doesn’t say anything.

I leave the hippie voodoo behind, grab my vitamins, almonds and make my way to the cash register.

We get in his car, get into our mental health goodies and talk about how great it is going to be when this is over. While popping vitamins we have the momentary excitement that they’ll work. Only I don’t feel any different.  And the almonds disappear   and the anxiety stays. .

When I get home I go on the internet again. I have an assignment in my email.

I get back to work on a self-help article I am writing for a little  petty cash.

For a quick buck I go on the net and find two articles on the assigned topic. I paraphrase what they say. Someone else did the same thing to create the articles I steal from. Somewhere along the line they stole from someone who knew something.

Thus people like me get their advice from a broken telephone.  I’m both the dealer and the addict.

I know this but I’m hooked.

I just can’t stop looking for an answer.

And on continues the story of a man who thinks life is a question.

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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2 Responses to “The Cure#4:Going Nuts and Buying Almonds”

  1. Julia Smith
    July 8th, 2010 @ 8:56 am

    ‘I find two articles on the assigned topic. I paraphrase what they say. Someone else did the same thing to create the articles I steal from. Somewhere along the line they stole from someone who knew something.’

    Hilarious!
    Julia Smith´s last blog ..Thursday Thirteen – 166 – 13 Blogger Spotlights My ComLuv Profile

  2. Caitlin
    July 8th, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    Vitamin D works, but most vitamins and minerals you just piss out.

    Self-diagnosing, self-medicating, self-treating… At least there’s the rationality to realize that you’re off and want to be back on. At least, that’s how I felt about it.

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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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