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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

I don’t know what this feels like

Posted on | November 26, 2013 | 1 Comment

“I don’t know what this feels like.”

I put on the super powered fan that happens to be in the guestroom I’m staying. I don’t want anyone to hear me. I don’t understand that the crying will come with a screaming sound. I’m going to be heard no matter how loudly I adjust the fan. But politeness matters. And right now the tears are an itch on my eye lids, a pull on my throat, a wet fart in my brain.

I don’t know what is going to be yet.

My friends  are incredible people. I don’t want them to hear me and feel the inevitable worry that comes with sounds like that. I’ve never cried like this. It’s loud.  Sort of like the Princess Bride when they hooked up the man in black in the pit of despair.

Today I woke up to the news that Alisha died. She lived in our basement. I never met her besides through a window I smashed in with a snowshovel. I don’t remember what I saw. But it was a person. A universe that was incredibly important to many people.

I don’t know what this feels like. I don’t know what this is.

And all of my ability to give voice to what this means in some positive light is gone. I finished the piece “Two Minutes” with the idea we all got out safe. We didn’t.

Apparently Alisha was an organ donor so someone else might get to live.  A few days ago we heard Alisha was alive and we could think about finding a place to live. Last night we talked about sending her flowers. Maybe visiting her in the hospital.We didn’t know that she died on Sunday.

We could hold onto hope that life continued, no matter how twisted it’s path would be. That some sense of control could return.

I could think about how ridiculous I must look in my sweatpants. With my overgrown neck beard and contemplate how good it would feel to shave. To no longer have the smell of the fire locked into the curly hairs of my face. Even in the worst situations you can cling to some hope that tragedy could be averted. That if you just try your best, if you pray to a God you don’t believe in that there would be some sense of mercy.

I didn’t know her. My sense is that she was intensely loved because I heard her boyfriend when he was losing her. When he was trying to hold onto her inside his throat.  When he was begging for time travel and miracle interventions. When they pulled her out and she was alive. And the tiniest thread of miracle lived inside of us.

And it snapped.

Never ask how things can get worse. There is always an answer. What feels like the pits of hell can be a moment of solace and privelege, resting before you realize the depths that you’re allowed to fall in a world that has no concept of fair.

In my experience pain and love are the only substances that are truly infinite, and the more you love the more you have to accept pain in your life. If you can close your heart enough you can lose some of the pain and pretend numbness is warmth. And if you close your heart securely enough you can lose all reason for life. I have chosen to stay open, I’ve chosen to love someone I haven’t even met and this is the natural consequence of the right decision.

So I make these sounds in this room with my personal Larry David mentioning the absurdity of what this must sound like to the people outside this room. Contemplating how my face seems to ejaculate agony and how my eyes are going to look like I blazed a fatty.

Crying is sort of funny if you overthink everything like I do. So yes, it sounded like laughter, screaming and crying at the same time.

I know there is a bottom to how bad things can get. Because I’m loved by so many people. Because I love myself and there’s many handholds on the way down and each time I fall I can hear the rescue party coming. And I have people who know about climbing cliffs and will launch daring plans of rescue.

I’m not alone. Except now when I need to be. Thank you for that.

“I don’t know what this feels like.”

I remember my roommate Nino saying this when we are on the TTC bus waiting to find out what was going to happen.

There’d be moments where I wasn’t trying to make a stupid joke about my sock shoes and no one else would be talking. See I walked out without shoe. One sock.  And I had to walk past a schoolyard where people occassionally smashed bottles. The Emergency people gave me these gigantic white sacks to wrap around my feet. They were good for a laugh or two when we needed it. But the laughter ran dry and so did our questions on how this could happen and whether we would ever get our stuff back and if you could get rid of the smell of smoke in our clothes. All of this was surface talk. Everything come down to what happened in the basement.

And everyone had their repeating sentences the ones they said in their head and somehow managed to sputter outloud. Sometimes it was a concern for the things we owned. Mine was pretty typical douchebag writer, “It’s so interesting that everyone is reacting to this differently.”

Alejandra talked about the intensely ridiculously coincidences that had gone on leading up to the fire.  Like how our landlord came over that afternoon to update our smoke detecting systems and was called away at the last minute. I remembered how Nino had a dream two weeks earlier that I moved out after saying our house was a shithole. And then we moved to anger at the douchebags at our local convenience store who wouldn’t let Alejandra go to the bathroom as the blaze raged on because they have a policy.

The camera people served as a distraction. Anything that could take away focus from holding your breath in some location too close to your heart.

A few days ago I talked about how I didn’t know how I was going to leave such a loving home even though I knew I needed to at some point.

All these webs of meaning that would mean nothing if not for an event that rendered our present existence meaningless. Shock like a hug from our brain saying not yet. You don’t have to understand this yet.

And the endlessly repeating question, “Are you okay?”

It’s a pointless thing to say. But the meaning was simple. Did the fire get you? Are you a ghost? Can I bring you back to life? I love you and I’ll give everything I have left for you to be okay. For it to be some variety of the same. Love means you ask questions like wishes.

Awhile ago I heard a line from Buddy Wakefield, a famous spoken word poet, that said, “Forgiveness is letting go of all hope for a better past.” And I think what he means is that you can’t change anything that has already happened. You have to accept that nothing else could have happened because nothing else did and that is the only immutable law in the universe. You can carry regret with you but regret won’t carry you.  It will give gravity to loss and pull you down inside yourself with no exit strategy. Grief is relentless. Love is your only method to climb out and everyone in the world is working to get me out.

I’m not there yet. It’s still dark in here.

My cousin came to help life move on. To get comfortable fitting shoes and a beard trimmer to get rid of my impossible large neck beard.

The house I’m staying at is directly across the street from the fire station that dispatched the team that fought the blaze that consumed my house. Occasionally I can see the red lights flash across the front door’s window. I remembered flashing bicycling lights against my back door window to mimic the arrival of the police at the end of my movie jus three days earlier. Standing just over the basement door. Where Alisha and her boyfriend lived. And I felt cold staring at the station.

And I laughed because sometimes you can choose to do that.  I couldn’t be safer.

And then there was a cat named either Dog or Lola who bounced out of my temporary home like James Dean filled with youthful rebellion. Little furry creature with tiny legs moving through metal bars.  Innocent. Unknown to me.  Immediately my heart sped up like it was going to burst out of my chest.

So I raced after it. My shoes still untied.

Going as fast as my legs could carry me.  Jumping over fences like a maniac.  Yelling at it the cat probably named Dog to stop when I’m guessing cat’s only hear the yelling and the panic.  And it was always a step ahead of me. Always just outside of my reach. As soon as I knelt down and made my voice sound reasonable he would pause for an instant. Look at me and see the forces tearing through my body and involunarily registering in my face.

And then bounced and ran past me on his little paws.

Eventually I decided this was normal. Cats get outside. The sky isn’t just made for falling on me.

I got in the car and went to the Dufferin mall and got what I needed. I’m no longer wearing sweat pants and the neck beard will disappear within an hour.

When I came home the cat named Dog or Lola was inside. Resting peacefully, leery of the manic who chased him or her over fences and into alleys.

I feel like life is trying to tell me something. Like it won’t go away.  Like the precious things sometimes take care of themselves. And life will be waiting for me when I get off my knees and am ready to find it.

I don’t know what this feels like yet.

I need to relentlessly accept what happened. Which is the tears. I can’t be angry because that’s just sadness in disguise. And it’s sadness that holds on, instead of lets go.

I forgive the camera people for doing their job even when I question the purpose of putting our worst moments on camera.

I forgive whatever caused the fire. I forgive myself for feeling my sadness as an unholy rage directed at anyone who dares to touch the people I love with their lack of common sense. I’m as imperfect as the life that tortures me, that elevates me, that changes me, that loves me so deeply that each inhalation of air feels important.

I will not question why I did this instead of that.

I will give my life to life without reservation.

Life is waiting for me.

Soon I’ll be okay enough to find it.

I deeply thank each and everyone of you who wants to help. Who chases after me like I chased after that cat.Who said omg as they offered their condolences and gave me a fit of uncontrollable laughter at how textspeak sneaks into our most important speech. Who offered me a place to stay. Who say I can call them anytime day or night.

I’m going to be safe.  I’m going to be okay.

I just need to run through the darkness a little while longer.

I promise I’m coming home.

Cat city 300x225 I dont know what this feels like




One Response to “I don’t know what this feels like”

  1. Tracey
    November 27th, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    I am so sorry. Wish I could say more. I have no other words.

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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.

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