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Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Origins of Colony of Losers: The Day That No One Could Save Me

Posted on | October 13, 2010 | No Comments

maol PDiamond Origins of Colony of Losers: The Day That No One Could Save Me

Reprinted with permission from Halifax Magazine’s October 3rd issue.

THE DAY THAT NO ONE COULD SAVE ME
An up-and-coming Halifax writer explains how a nervous breakdown jumpstarted his career

By Michael Kimber

Editor’s Note: Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalism graduate who created Colony-of-Losers.com, a record of his quarter-life crisis and struggle to grow up following the end of university. In July, he began writing the “Cure,” an honest, haunting and hilarious story of his nervous breakdown and the first love, friends and family that helped him get through it. Receiving 5,000 hits a week and thousands of fans from Halifax to Saudi Arabia, readership from such noteworthy authors as Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Lethem, Kimber is on his way to making a name for himself and not just as Stephen’s son. In this guest column, he explains how it all began.

“You aren’t going to believe the day I’ve had.”

My roommate looks up from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the spotted blue couch that has been Depression HQ since my November breakdown.

“What happened?” she asks.

“I lost my job and my girlfriend almost broke up with me,” I say.

“Shit,” she says. “That’s not a good day. How are you?”

“Better,” I say. “I can do better. I don’t think I need to work at a job I hate.”

“And your girlfriend?” she asks.

“She deserves better than the dude I’ve been lately,” I say. “And she’s going to get it.”

“Where are you going?” she asks.

“To clean my room.”

My room is a shit hole, which may explain why we haven’t slept here in weeks. Circus red walls, gray black carpet covered in the detritus of the various stages of my depression.  Anti-histamines, sleeping pills and old prescriptions, half empty vitamin containers, half eaten bags of almonds, next to my hippy meditation center where I breathed in and breathed out, next to the bed where I forgot how to sleep and the million self help books I read half of before getting pissed off at the preachy priests of positivity and popular demand.

Grab garbage bag and fill it with my last six months. Knock a lot of shit over because I’m clumsy.

Breathe a sigh of relief.

I can see my keyboard again.

“Are you okay?” asks my roommate.

How many times had I been asked that question and had to lie?

“Cleaning.”

“Sounds like smashing.”

“Little smashing and cleaning. I’m okay,” I say.

My family has a multi-generational history of anxiety and depression.  I finished university and everyone asked me what I was going to do with my life. Surprisingly no one gave me a future with my degree. I treaded water, relying on my family to keep me afloat, instead of almost drowning and learning my lessons. Staring into the void between university and adulthood I panicked.

At the beginning of November 2009, I woke up feeling like caffeine had been injected into my veins, brain spiraling, panicking, filled with a nausea I felt in my head rather than my stomach.  The war against myself had begun.

Soon I wasn’t sleeping.

Desperate for a cure, I tried everything.

I ate healthy, cut out booze, weed and caffeine. Saw the reality of an overburden mental system where two percent of health spending goes towards fifteen percent of the problem. Where only one third of people suffering mental illness actually get treated due to stigma.

I tried every sleeping pill known to man. I meditated next to a madmen with a mullet. I went to hot yoga and had a beautiful woman fart in my face.  I went to therapy. Got down to two hours of sleep a night.  Finally I got prescribed anti-depressants and learned how to fall asleep again.

When things got better, I settled in.  The pills changed the situation but didn’t change me. Everyone in my life had gotten used to taking care of me.

And I was used to being taken care of. Even by my girlfriend who I would have done anything for.  In the darkest times she was my evidence that my fears were wrong. That if someone so lovely could love me then I could to. I made her my cure.

The worst thing you can do to someone you love is make them feel like you need them to live.

A few weeks earlier I started Wellbutrin. It acts as an ampetamine and counters the sedation of the Remeron. Anxious as hell I let my jealousy tag team with my insecurity and made the best girl I have ever met feel unloved.  I apologized over and over but didn’t really get it. I blamed it on the medicine.  I blamed it on anxiety.  I said I was sorry but didn’t know what it meant.  She comforted me. She made it okay when it wasn’t.

This morning she started crying. Told me how I made her feel.  Watching the tears fall down her cheeks I knew what I’d done. That it was my insecurities that was hurting the girl who made me happier than I ever expected I could be.

I had the choice.

Not in whether we stayed together but in how I treated her. I vowed that with every action from that day I would let her know how much I loved her.  To learn how to see the world again so that she could know how I actually saw her.

To get better so that she could know I could live without her.  That I wanted her more than anything in the world but I didn’t need her.

I lost my job because I didn’t care about it, I thought I deserved special treatment because I’d gotten it my whole life and I was fucked up after all. I let her forget how much I loved her because I was sick and thought I deserved special treatment.  The day I took responsibility was the day my depression ended.

“You sure, you’re okay?” asks my roommate, barely audible over the sound of my fingers tracing fire on my keyboard.

“Yeah, I am.”

March 28th, 2010 I decided I wasn’t going to wait for someone to give me my future or bitch about how hard it was to get a job in journalism or make it as a writer.

That day I started writing Colony of Losers.

A blog about falling on your face on your way to figuring out your future and the people that help you get to your feet. To honor my Colony who got me through the toughest time of my life. To tell their stories.

March 28th was the day I realized that no one could save me.

So I was going to do it myself.

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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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