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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

The Cure#5: Insomnia in the Land of Dreams

Posted on | July 11, 2010 | No Comments

"Time's Running Out" by Patrick Campbell

"Time's Running Out" by Patrick Campbell

November 19th, 2009

Go to sleep. Go to fucking sleep.

A signal has been sent from my brain to my body that if I fall asleep something bad is going to happen.

My bed has suddenly become a prison.

My conscious mind is telling my body that there is nothing wrong. I’m lying next to my beautiful girlfriend who is only now fallen asleep.

Minutes before we were laughing.

On the floor is the evidence.

On a piece of computer paper is my attempt at an illustration.  On it is a very poor picture of a girl with big boobs and an incredible smile that takes up half of her face. An arrow next to it that has her name attached.  Another chicken scratch arrow points down to a poorly scribbled picture of a rose.  “Roses are red, violets are blue and beautiful girls deserve flowers, so obviously so do you. Unfortunately I’m broke right now. Take this one in place. IOU: Rose on Friday.”

She laughed, we kissed, and we got naked.

Now I’m panicking to the sound of her slow calming breaths.

None of the typical signs of panic show. I’m consciously holding my body still. Telling myself it will be fine. Taking slow deep breaths which truth to be told I’m not good at taking.  I loud breathe. I’m surprised she doesn’t wake up.

I have tried everything to get better.  Only I have made things worse.

Michael Kimber’s gorgeous Jewish body was used to the shit he did to it. My brain and body adjusted to a regular diet of high fat take out meals, intense caffeine and tons of pot.  The abuse was taken as love. Now kindness has thrown off my sleep schedule, marijuana withdrawal is causing me intense anxiety on top of the anxiety I am trying to reduce and my body isn’t used to meals that only have vegetables.

I want to sleep so badly.

1:22.  Lots of time.

I read the pamphlet they gave me at the community health center about insomnia. I’m going over it as I toss and turn. Hoping I find the magic off switch and my brain turns off.

According to the god that lives in the pamphlet: You have to set a sleep schedule, do the same rituals to cue your body to approaching sleep. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Have a warm cup of tea. Take an hour off the end of your day to calm yourself down from everything that stresses you.


Insomniac time isn’t the same as normal time.

Marked by frantic monitoring of your alarm clock and minutes that feel like hours and nights that feel like years.  The watched kettle never boils and boredom when focused on begins to burn.

You can feel every second pass and the second that slips away from you is one less second you get to sleep. And that second gets added on the other end. Another second you are awake and another second you will be awake.

Don’t look at the fucking clock. You’re just torturing yourself. Concentrate on the side of your body that is touching hers. Remember what it feels like to fall asleep with her arms around you, back when you had a single bed and you both slept on top of each other because you didn’t have any choice.

Don’t check the clock. Nothing has changed since the last time. It won’t make you feel any better.


Covers are really hot. I put my leg out and glory in the faint chill on my legs.

Toss and turn for another twenty minutes. Search for some way to get comfortable. Panic is starting to build. No matter how hard you close your eyelids or how many fucking sheep you count nothing is going to change.


Try some of that visualization shit public speaking woman taught you.

Cool beach.

Waves crashing.

Deep relaxing breaths.

She is sleeping.

My tossing and turning is going to wake her up. Back to the beach. Waves. Her in a swimsuit. Holding her. Laughing.

It all so seems so long ago.

I stop thinking for a few moments.

Sleep comes in ready to take me where I’m looking to go.

When you first start to fall asleep your brain loses focus.

Ideas and scenarios that would never happen in real life begin to unfold.  Why do I need to buy pickles before the class trip?  We gotta go get the tomatoes before the teachers come.  Only I can pin point the exact second when this happens. I get really happy that I’m finally going to sleep and then it slips away.

Now conscious thought disappears for a while.

Just the dark clouds of anger and frustration. It’s this empty place that somehow feels claustrophobic at the same time. Like you wish you could meet the person who is doing this to you. As if Dr. Mengele will walk out from behind the curtain, explain his torturous experiment and then you can righteously beat the shit out of him. Only Mengele is you and there is no experiment. Its just life and for some reason its yours.

Anxiety picks your brain up and puts it on that rollercoaster ride.  Consequences are methodically and unreasonably added and subtracted as you skidded on the rails, screeching towards some imagined point of no return.

I open my eyes.

How long has it been since I last checked? How long have I been tossing and turning.


I am past the point where I will sleep.

Go to the bathroom. Kick over books. Box of drowsy antihistamines I used to get to sleep the night before. Past the bottle of Clonazepam I’m too scared to touch. Spill over glass of water. Great. She doesn’t wake up. Tippy-toe to the bathroom. Drink a little water. Take a piss.

Go back to bed. Slowly go under the covers. Listen to her breathe. You never dreamed you would have a girl like this. Now you just have to sleep and it can all be okay.

I think that if I manage to stay in bed my body will relax and I will get some sleep. This is standard insomniac bullshit.

Pavlov’s dogs drool when they hear a bell, because they associate the bell with being fed. Our bodies associate the bed with sleep. The longer you stay awake in bed the more frayed that association becomes. They tell you to get up and go into another room if you can’t sleep after a half hour. Do some relaxing shit and then go back to sleep.

I suck at this.

More hours pass. Every second carefully measured on my clock. Fear reaching a ceiling. I can’t feel good about myself when I’m not sleeping and my problems seem to big for me to handle by myself. Each second makes them bigger and me smaller until I’m razor thin and I can’t see the world outside my anxiety. And I have five more hours left to go.  If only I could just sleep.

It’s 10 o’clock in the morning and she turns over and smiles at me.

The stress from my worry has made me tense my forehead.

“How’d you sleep?”

This is the question that everyone will ask me in the upcoming weeks. I hate lying to her and I want to.

“Little bit.”

“Not at all?” she asks.

I nod.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

I shake my head.

She takes me in her arms, pressing my stomach to her chest, hands rustling my hair, taking the tension away.

I’m very close to crying and I don’t want to. The last few weeks have been filled with lies I believed were true at the time. I can’t tell you how many times I told her that things were getting better.

If I don’t sleep I’m tired till numb if I can avoid the panic. If I do sleep I wake up with electricity sizzling in my skin and I can’t stand still or stand to be around people.

“It’s going to be ok.”

I start laughing which is the closest thing I can do to crying. The border between the two is beginning to collapse.

“You’ve got your family behind you,” she says and covers my body with hers.  “You’ve got a lot of friends who love you and think you are fucking awesome. Why do you think I am with you? Nobody has ever treated me as good as you do. You know who you are. Your fucking Michael Kimber and that means something.”

When I was a kid I used to play video games at Dmitri’s Pizza. One was called Star Destroyer or some shit. I’m some awesome pilot flying a plane that has some super duper death ray and I’m defending the motherfucking planet earth from the murderous bastards who want to take away our ability to pollute and eat greasy pizza. Millions of planes come at me and I keep killing. For years I had the highest score in the whole joint.

When I got sick it was like the gun stopped working. My fears would just keep coming no matter how much logic I fired at them.  Friends and family took the guns and told me that I was safe. The sky was lit with lazers I couldn’t see. I was a brick wall.

“You shouldn’t have to deal with this,” I say. “You should have someone who isn’t like this. You didn’t sign up for this.”

I hate the idea of hurting her more than I do hurting myself.

“I signed up for you and this is you and I love you and I love you more because you need it and I need you,” she says.  “Whatever happens we’ll get through it together.”

I believe her. This is her magic. When no one else can reach me she can.

“Should I call my mom?” she asks.

Her mother is a psychiatric nurse and has worked for years guiding troubled kids through their teenage years.

Pride is no longer a factor.

I want help and I want someone who isn’t going to put a slide show on.

“I’ll do whatever it takes,” I say.

She goes looking for her cell phone amidst the wreckage of my room.

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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  • 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 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 I think they do great work and have been a help to me personally.

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