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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Flying: The story of why Mike Kimber left Halifax

Posted on | October 22, 2010 | No Comments

Halifax Magazine contributor Michael Kimber (the blogger behind Colony of Losers) attracted a lot of attention in our October issue with “The day that no one could save me,” a raw and honest account of how he’s worked to overcome a nervous breakdown and find meaning in his life. Recently, his quest led him to Toronto—we asked him to share his thoughts and predictably, Michael filed a most unpredictable column. The following is his account of what led him to the Big Smoke. (With his trademark candor, Michael also shares a few political gibes. It should go without saying, but please note that these are his personal opinions and not the position ofHalifax Magazine).

“Chilly night?”

The two naked women say nothing, staring into each other’s eyes, ignoring my existence for artistic purposes. One is a skinny beautiful Chinese woman and the other is a voluptuous African Canadian woman with large breasts slowly reaching down toward her knees.

“Continue walking,” urges the attendant.

“Really nice meeting you,” I say, hovering in the strange line between polite and obscene. Antidepressants and booze make for a somewhat stunned Michael Kimber.

“Stop staring,” says an old friend from my university days. “Come with me.”

He is the leader in our cartoon campaign through Toronto’s Nuit Blanche all night modern art festival and his compass is an iPod app.

We make a quick exit into the courtyard and suddenly I’m skating back and forth on blocks of ice into an ice shanty where art students try to sell me expensive beer. Apparently this is the “Canadian Exhibit”.  The stink of barbecued sardines hangs in the air like a venereal disease.

“You’re Tim’s friend from Scotia?” asks Ryan, a new acquaintance who resembles Joey Jeremiah from Degrassi High.

“Yup.”

“I went there this summer. Awesome place.”

“Spent my whole life there.”

“I love fishing,” he says and sniffs the sardine perfumed air.  “Remind you of home?”

“I’ve never gone fishing in my whole fucking life,” I say. And I hate Barrett’s Privateers.

“Why’d you leave?” he asks.

“I’m Jewish,” I say. “Figure going to Toronto I can find myself a wife.”

“Really?”

“No.”

“So why Toronto?”

I contemplate what lie I’m going to tell.  I committed a murder and I’m fleeing arrest.  I’ve decided to try my hand at modeling. I have come to be surgically implanted in your fat fuck future Mayor Rob Ford’s guts.

“To flee the Dread Pirate Roberts,” I say with a big drunk smile.

“Wanted to see the big city life?”

“I want to meet Wendel Clark,” I say.  “I need to know where he gets his beard cut.”

“Is there a real answer?” he asks.

“Probably.”

We leave the courtyard and enter a room where a projector shows a shaggy haired man repeating the phrase true and false during a polygraph exam.

Truth be told, the end of a romance led me here.

Into the strobe light speed of the city of Toronto.

Here is now a mall where I’m dancing with strangers to Mo Money, Mo Problems, hanging out with some of my best friends from University for the first time in years.

New song.

Time to salsa dance.

A beautiful woman tells me she has been to Nova Scotia. She wants to know why I would ever leave.  This time I take a second to consider telling her the inconvenient truth.

Why did I leave Halifax?

My first love ended.

The last time I saw her she was wearing red and for months after every girl in the blurry distance wearing red became her and I got sick of trying to figure out what to say to them to make the past into the future. When she said it wasn’t working I said I was moving. Though it goes back further than that.  I didn’t want to stay in Halifax for the two years it would take for her to finish University.  I was scared of getting trapped in a city where I never had to grow up.  Giving up my dreams for the comforts of my reality.I dread living and dying in the same place I was born.

I’d never left Halifax or learned how to cook, ride a bicycle and drive a car. Terrified that I didn’t know how to live I stopped being able to. At 25, I had a nervous breakdown super-powered by a genetic predisposition to anxiety, first love and an insomnia somehow immune to sleeping pills.

Three weeks into my hellish winter, I took my first step toward a world I didn’t know. This manifested in taking a little girl’s bike out on a November night to see if I could learn.

Every few seconds my feet hit the curb, to keep me from falling and hurting myself.

After three city blocks of stops and starts I magically took off. Racing past streets filled with dead leaves and barren trees. Past my expectations for myself. For the brief moment that felt like forever I was flying.  Faster than a Speeding Bullet and the heartbeat of Clark Kent when he looked at Lois Lane.

Until I hit a bump in the road.

The bike spun out from under me and I crashed to the ground.

My friend rushed over to see if I was OK.

My body was scratched the fuck up. My knees hurt and I was momentarily out of breath. I turn over and see his concern.

“That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” I say.

Back to the present.

The beautiful girl wants an answer as we salsa dance in a mall packed with strangers.

I want to tell her about learning to ride a bike and how when I was on the airplane to Toronto I felt that same sense of exhilaration.  That I was flying even if it meant I might fall.

Instead I say, “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to salsa dance.”

She laughs and we dance as the clock strikes midnight and my feet never touch the ground.

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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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