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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Cure#19: Making the Devil Dance

Posted on | October 20, 2010 | No Comments

“It’s good to be making music again,” I say.   “I don’t think we’ve done this since we free styled that song about sacrificing a virgin at that party. You know the night that guy smashed a glass on your face.”

Surprisingly we’ve done two songs about sacrificing a virgin but there seems little reason to elaborate on that here.

Denis nods, moving at a frenetic rate, arranging wires to construct a studio in his filthy apartment simultaneous to speed smoking a cigarette.  Denis thinks, creates and talks in fast forward, a ginger-haired blur of aggressive energy, enthusiasm and genius.

“Remember?” I ask.

“Fond memories. Thanks for bringing it all back,” he says, wiring a “what’s it” into a “that thing”.  “So how you want to do this?”

I’m a strange person to make music with. I’m slightly tone deaf, my sense of rhythm is best described as eccentric and my knowledge of keys and other musical witchcraft is minimal to nonexistent.

Denis understands what I want even if I don’t quite know how to ask for it. We’ve spent years free styling together at parties, him wildly strumming the guitar as I create the lyrics, grabbing words out of thin air, taking pleasure in a place where our extremely quick thinking wasn’t likely to piss people off.

“Hey, space cadet,” he says. “What do you want to do?”

“I’ll mumble these lyrics into the microphone,” I say, holding up four pieces of paper covered in seizure inducing chicken scratches I call my handwriting. “You make them sound good?”

“Alright,” he says, noticing that he has gotten through his smoke and quickly lights another as he dispatches the corpse of the last cigarette into the crematorium lying on his desk.

The song is called Save The Date and it’s about the worries I had about entering into a new chemical reality. About whether on the other side of medication the real me was waiting. Or if in the process of trying to bring myself back I’d burn the bridge and lose that person forever.

“What sort of levels for your voice are you thinking?”

“Wing it?” I ask.

“I don’t know why I asked.We’ll do it like the birds,” says Dennis and I gave him a blank look. “Wing it. Crows. Pigeons. Flying.”

I remember this evening and the pile of cigarettes as the moment where I stopped debating the big question of whether I would go on medication. My childhood friend played his guitar, creating a drum beat banging on the back of a stand up bass and let me rage into the last moments that this terrified Michael Kimber would be allowed to exist.

The decision has been made. The date has been set.

I’ve researched anti-depressants to the point of mania, hungry to find some expert to tell me that Remeron will give me a hundred percent chance of recovery. I have memorized Remeron’s Wikipedia entry, emotionally highlighting words like low chance of sexual mysfunction and greatest chance of resulting in recovery from depression. I kept looking for that one piece of information that would let me stop looking. Some way of knowing what the ride would be like before I took it.

More comfort than my doctor provided when she scrolled through a book called Merck’s Medicine for a few moments and picked out the drug that would change my life. These medications are much closer to art than science and no one really understands how they work or the long-term effects of taking them.

I know that everyone reacts to the drugs differently and most people who post on the Internet about medication are fucking nutcases.  Generally if you are satisfied by the drug you are having a picnics in parks with the love of your life getting head rather than bitching on the internet. This doesn’t stop me from seeking a reassurance that the drugs will make me better.

The thing about depression that is utterly frustrating is your ability to see holes in your own logic that you can’t seem to do anything about. Like depression suddenly Being John Malkovich dove into your brain and turned you into a fully conscious puppet. You can see the strange and erratic dance you are doing. How little it makes sense. Yet the logic expressed by your “real self” doesn’t touch your feelings, doesn’t affect the itching skin on fire tension of trying to breath.  A lot of my time has been spent warring with the devil that is this invisible puppet master, getting more and more caught up in my strings for my effort of trying to divide myself from the monster that’s eating me.

“You want to start mumbling?” Denis asks.

“Why not?” I ask. “What do I got to lose?”

The room is filled with puffs of smoke illuminated by winter windows serving as mirrors as two young boys perform a magic trick as old as time. I channel the spirit of Tom Waits and lose myself in my emo lyrics.  Happy despite the pain flowing out through me into the microphone.

Denis smiles his trouble making grin. His spell is working.

This ginger magician is teaching me something I had all but forgotten. A lesson that may explain the words you are reading at this very moment.

How in describing my experience I can steal it back.

My voice is rapping magic spells that make the devil dance against his will. For now I own my depression and anxiety.

For these moments this puppet can make a song out of the strings that bind him and scream hallelujahs into the mouth of hell.

Tomorrow I take the leap.

For now, the devil dances to my tune.


“Why are you so worried?” she asks. “I mean besides the fact that you worry about everything.”

“What if I’m different?” I ask.

It’s pitch black in the bedroom but I know that she has a strange ability to see in the dark. My forehead is tensed, adding wrinkles to my baby face.  The smallest hint of moonlight settles on her blond hair like a barely visible halo.

“You’ve always been different,” she says.

“What if I get fucked up?” I ask.

“Then we’ll figure it out then,” she says. She rubs the hair out of my face in a way she knows I like and that’s she in turn dislikes because it reminds her of being pet like a dog. “You realize how worried you are about taking this pill? Probably means you should take it.”

“What if?” I begin not entirely certain where I’m going with this. She kisses me and I lose my train of thought.

“Do what you want,” she says. “You said you wanted this. I’m here for you whatever you decide.”

My girlfriend has never once asked me to do any of the myriads things I say I do for her.  I quit smoking weed, drinking caffeine, drinking booze, eating poorly, took up exercise, took sleeping pills all in the name of someday coming back to her. None of which she asked me to do.

The combined toll of those solutions resulted in supercharging my anxiety resulting in my insomnia and now my need to go on this medication. From the beginning she accepted me and never tried to help me, except in providing me with excellent reasons to accept myself. There is something condescending and facile in an attempt to fix someone and she never tried to fix me even at my most broken. She trusted me enough to fix myself.

She loves me, which means a lot more than helping me.

“I just farted,” she says and I burst out laughing. Which is a mistake because it means that I’m deeply inhaling, which means I realize that she isn’t lying and as such have real trouble breathing.

“I thought girls didn’t do that,” I say.

“Then I didn’t,” she says.

“Then what happened?” I ask.

“You did,” she says.

“As you wish,” I say.

“Fucking Princess Bride again?” she asks.

“My name is Michael Kimber, you just killed my sense of smell, prepare to die.”

We laugh and kiss and somewhere in the darkness I fumble with a pill bottle and grasp a small pink sphere that in the dark looks to me like a heart candy. I put it in my mouth. Shudder and swallow.

I take the leap and she takes my hand. She cuddles me and for some reason I’m able to fall asleep.  In her arms. Where she makes the devil disappear.

Flight of the Alacorn Part#4

Unicorn 2 300x250 Cure#19: Making the Devil Dance

Flight of the Alacorn drawn by Jennica Lounsbury

Stephanie grew up, triumphed over her bedwetting and became known for her dirty mouth rather than her dirty sheets. As this is a children’s story we will avoid discussing any of the delightful filth that came from these worship worthy lips when she would recite poetry.  Or how she become one of the foremost sex poets in the country of Canada.

First of all let us look at Stephanie once she has aged past five years old.

She went through being a teenager, thus for many years she was a bit of a twit but this is traditional for humans. They take all advice as an insult and pursue their mistakes with great passion.  This resulted in a slew of relationships with boys she dated to piss off her parents, a set of extraordinarily dirty dreads and the occasional emotional rough patch. And of course, despite her teenage induced stupidity she helped those around her, caring for others more than she did for her temporarily stupid self.

Now let us see her in early 20’s.

She is one of the most beautiful women in all history.  She makes Cleopatra look like a cheeseburger in comparison.

Let us start off at the parts of herself that she does not see as beautiful.    Her hands are wrinkled like an old lady, burned deep with layers of tension and touch. This is because her lifeline cannot be traced by traditional means as this girl spends much of her time living in different centuries, traveling back to change worlds as she slept.  Thus her lifeline traces to be about three hundred and fifty years. These hands were attached to arms just large enough to embrace a friend or lover, connected to armpits where hair grows slowly because it is only every second year that she shaves them.

Her red lips are soft to the touch, perfectly trained to give the most generous and sensual kiss, said lips were perfectly proportioned to stretch and give the most gracious smile when she gave a compliment or experienced a loud fart. Her soft eyes were oceans that made men long to learn to swim the most tempestuous of waves. Her skin was several degrees warmer than that of the average human, closer to lava than flesh.  Her hips had been formed by a life spent in ballet, giving her an ass you cannot get from bicycling for years or the most dramatic plastic surgery.

Her walk moves with a shuffle back and forth as rhythmic as a clock, as hypnotizing as sleep itself, if sleep were to have a pulse that howled in meditation.

You’ve really only seen with your eyes.  Listen with your ears to the notes of her laughter, massaging the lobes and muscles of your mind.  You’re funny if she laughs with you.

An expert eye would know her for the Alacorn, for the peace she provided was in the possibility of harmony with her own freedom. She liked balls but had no use for chains. Her gift was the ability to make you free from your own concepts of yourself. Oh and don’t ever tell her what to do. She will shove her horn right up your ass.

Another key lesson is that many people when allowed to be themselves completely and totally often turn out to be assholes. As a result many of the people who became obsessed with the Alacorn were in fact not worth her time. As she investigated her own limits, attracted to the extremes of sensation that come from passion and pain, she grew. She was a work of art composed by many artists, from her loving father Frank and giving mother Deb to the boys who lied and the boys who told the truth, and the world that gave its booby-trapped heart to the girl each and every moment. As the world was harsh with her, she became more kind to it. Unlike others her pain did not dull her to the world but instead exposed her to its frantic heartbeat.

There are those who resent this.  The master who sent his minions to destroy her had a very special name.  It was an uncreative name.  As Stephanie created the legend of the Unicorn and the ability to be free within yourself, her enemy created the legend of fear, which would fight it and confine you to the smallest elements of your own character. As she is referred to as a Unicorn he adopted the name Fear. After a few years of eating only KFC he decided to also add the title of Colonel to his name.

A strange Southern man one night approached her in a bar.  He was very pale and dressed in a tuxedo.

“Soo-Sook-Ie is mine,” he said.

“What?” she asked.

“Are you Stephanie?”  he asks.

“Yes indeed,” she responded.

“You are the one who will save the Virgin,” he says.

“From being a virgin?” she asks with a little chuckle.

“You will see. Prepare for Colonel Fear.  He plots to destroy you,” said the stranger.“Make it to the Kingdom of the Golden Palace and all will be well.”

“Who are you?” she asked.

“My name is Bill.”

“I see. Who’s the virgin?” asks Stephanie.

“The person who has the most to learn from you,” said Bill.  “However Colonel Fear wants him as well. He hates writers.”

“Why you are here?” asks Stephanie. “Who are you?”

“At some point you and the writer will write a TV series where I will act. And this will rescue my one hit wonder career. I need the money. Remember write Mystories. I time traveled to be here. I’m 45. I need this bad.”


Eggs are being made.

The phone rings and she goes to answer it.

I yawn fighting through the Remeron haze. I slept for eight hours and could sleep for eight more. There is a reason Remeron is considered the most powerful sleeping in the world.

“Hello Dad,” she says. “How is the Blues Cruise? You best friends with Taj yet? Sure, he’s right there. Put him on the phone then.”

She makes a little yelp.

I wonder if something bad has happened.

“Hello Taj,” she says.

My brow furrows. What?

“Nothing too much,” she says, trying to be casual, her eyes popping out like a surprised cartoon. “You know, just making breakfast. Some eggs. What about you? Hanging out with your best friend Frank?”

I can’t hear Taj Mahal but I can see the effect his words are having. I begin to secretly plan recreating this scene a hundred times with different legends, different phone calls, anything I can do to make her smile like that over and over again.

“Oh yeah, Taj,” she says. “Make sure to take care of Frank. He is a delicate flower.”

She laughs like a giddy schoolgirl and takes a second to get control over herself. She motions her hand to calm herself down and regain composure.

“Lovely talking to you, Taj,” she says. “Give my love to Frankie. Remember to come to Halifax so that you can see your favorite young lady.”

She hangs up the phone and looks at me frantically gesticulating with her hands.

“I was just talking to Taj Mahal,” she says. “He laughed at my jokes. You know what this means?  I’m now bestfriends with motherfucking Taj Mahal.”

Tears fall down her cheeks and she frantically wipes them away. She is so happy that she can’t contain her feelings and is literally shaking with joy.

“I’m sorry, I know this looks so ridiculous,” she says, cackling and crying. “I’m just so fucking cool.”

I want these to be the only type of tears she cries from now on.

It’s January 31st.

Tonight my little brother is holding a rave.  Tomorrow I will receive a phone call early in the morning from my girlfriend telling me that a girl died at his party and Nole’s life might be ruined.

For now, I can’t stop laughing at my crying girlfriend, blissful that for this moment the sky has stopped falling.



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    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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