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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Down the Up Escalator

Posted on | April 27, 2014 | No Comments

So there he was.

At the end of a difficult journey pointing at the monster he conquered in the greatest confusion, drunk, stuttering, trying to explain what he had just been through. He was on the Eastbound platform, I was on the Westbound side. The people next to me were discussing a documentary they had recently seen. I was trying to determine why he was pointing at the escalator demanding an explanation.

Who was this modern Don Quixote?

The explanation is simple. He was drunk, not paying attention and had tried to walk down an up escalator.

Let’s rewind the evening just a little bit.

He had a few drinks. Maybe a few more than a few drinks.  Taxis are expensive and he had spent his money on fine local beer, maybe scotch maybe secret Portugese whisky stolen from a pirate ship, something to kill the thirst and make a Saturday evening feel alive. So he was going to take the subway home. Probably he wanted a Sandwich or a slice of pizza or a bucket of water he could drop down his gullet and magically transport himself to asleep. All he had to was get home. Maybe he licked his lips because he bought a whole pizza from Greco and would feast in his underwear while watching Sports Highlights, wiping pizza sauce on his thighs in the full knowledge that he could shower and become presentable before he once more fell under the eyes of the world. Yes, feasting on pizza while ingesting sports statistics can feel like a blurry eyed heaven when you have properly celebrated a Saturday.

He deserved it. He deserved it very much.

Now he remembers to get himself a transfer. Because you have to pick that up at the station where you pay your fare. He doesn’t exactly know why that is besides that the TTC have a policy and they sometimes reinforce it despite the fact that you can only get a transfer from inside a station and it makes no difference to anybody whether you get it at the same station where you leave provided you leave the station and don’t use it for re-entry.  But he has it in his sweaty palms like a golden ticket.

Home! Home to a whole pizza! To the news of whether his beloved raptors have dribbled the ball to their full potential. To hockey scores! To the most adorable errors anyone has ever made while being paid for hitting a ball with a stick or throwing it through a hoop!  If only he had gone to the bathroom at the bar. Or did he? How many times must a man use the bathroom after he has had a few drinks? And why is he thirsty? A glass of water would make him feel like a king. As he contemplates sleeping he notices that there is a west and an eastbound platform. He always takes the Eastbound to get home. But what if this time he is already East and must go West? Why does he wonder about this everytime he gets on the Subway? Why can’t he just trust himself?

So this time he debates the question with unexpected thoroughness.I am here, and home is there and how may I bridge the gap? I must go East.

And he picks the correct platform. He is on his way. And then he notices that the stairs have decided to fight him. What is he to do but fight back?  For each step he takes he is forced back another. It’s like standing still but more nauseauting. If his stomach surrenders he may cover a stranger in vomit.

What has his beloved Rob Ford made of this city of his youth?  What gravy must needs be taken off the train?  Only forty steps and he can relax. He just needs to take them. In this life nothing is given to you. You have to take it for yourself. What’s more he is a good person, who drank good local beer and has supported Toronto’s economy!  He is a patriot and he will not take this lying down. He will run at the stairs and accept the hell that may come.

At no point does it occur to him that if he stops struggling he will be taken up to the top of the escalator and he can change his mind and make a different decision. He fights because he is a fighter and you can’t lay down and take it when the bastards try to do you in!  So he is bounding the stairs. Jumping them two at a time. Feeling his feet slide off the stairs, balanced ever so precariously. He bangs his aged hips into the escalator’s side. Between grit teeth he mutters the same word three times, “FORD! FORD! FORD!” The hipsters walking past him aren’t laughing. They are listening to their music packets and bobbing their heads like he is a monkey in a zoo. I will have fuck your mothers, he thinks. Yes I will fuck them in a way they like but not as much as I like it!  I will pleasure them if I can get off this infernal contraption! I will try that method where I growl like a lion as we tussle in the sheets! They will see the beast in me, hipsters!  I will send them E cards and eventually break their hearts and you will no longer have a stepfather!  I will abandon my responsibilities to you!  Your mothers will be so heartbroken they will only eat cereal because they have no energy left to anything else. They will not be able to drive you to Thrift Shops!  I will make them listen to Macklemore until you no longer like it! Help  me! Avoid your fate!

Will our hero die on this cursed escalator to hell?


He is a human. We made it to the fucking moon. We dodge bullets on battlefields. We invented cars that can deliver whole pizzas to your home in less than an hour or your money back and we also had something to do with satellites that convey sports statistics.

He finally makes it.  No one has noticed his two minute long struggle. His legs are tired. He is panting. Pointing. Wanting an explanation as to how his beloved Ford could have allowed this moment to happen.

And I understand.

Or I understand in the way I understand things.

Which is I make them about my emotional development and that rotten little smile we get when we learn that we aren’t alone in making fools of ourselves. I understand what it feels like to get on the wrong escalator. For me it is more metaphorical.

I require myself to be happy. Or at the very least well balanced and sane. For me that means knowing what I need to do to get to a place where my worries become background noise, where I’m not fighting myself for every step forward and being pushed back by the relentless tide of my thoughts. Usually I can accomplish this. Due to circumstances beyond my control I’m finding this a little more difficult lately.

It’s nothing by prewar standards. I sleep. I feel intense connection to people I love. I don’t hate myself.

It’s just that it’s quite a lot of pain and I’d prefer to get the fuck off the escalator because I’d be much more happy consuming a pizza and reading about TV shows. Ask the clay how it feels being on the lathe.  The clay has no idea its being made into art. Instead it simply asks why are you hurting me? Why are you running your sweaty palms down my flesh, breaking me, moulding me into what you want!

I have to stop with this metaphor.

I know little about clay working.

I think there might be a heat source. But that might have nothing to do with the lathe. That might involve a kiln. In Grade 9 I got the flu and puked during this particular class of Home Ec.

So back to the escalator and my desire to return home to consume cheesy poofs, pizza and the American dream.

With pain, you have to let it carry you for a while. Until the waves have finished crashing against your heart and your stomach. Because you can’t go down an up escalator. You look like a fool as you question Rob Ford and his latest decisions and why people make fun of him for being fat rather than for being stupid and who are you to comment on Ford when you are attempting to make your way down an up escalator while cursing all those that fail to understand the nobility of your decision to run away from being in pain to lessen the imagined burden you have on onlookers.

There is a difference between bravery and stupidity. And it’s hard to give credit to the poor man and his never give up attitude when if he had given up he wouldn’t have injured himself and he would have been able to eat pizza in his underwear to his heart’s content, if he had only let the stairs carry him up to the top and used his legs for the tough journey down.

In our modern era we expect life to make itself convenient to our immediate desires.

Mine is to be over this shit already.

Part of it is a guilt that comes with grief. You can’t really figure out how you are responsible. But you know that you can’t control the world. And you have some idea that you can control yourself. That you should at least be able to grasp onto the workable mechanisms in your brain and feel as you would like to. You don’t think it will be easy but there has to be a certain set of steps that will get you passed this in a reasonable time frame. If I exercise, or if I make amends for things I believe I might have done wrong, or if I give to charity, pray to God, I can cut this pain into pieces, put these ashes in my hand, take a deep inward breath and push them into the ocean where I’ll never see them again.

Unfortunately you have to go up before you can go down. I apologize for the strange mixing of metaphors, trains of thoughts and subway stations but you have to understand that the weight of your pain can pull you down into your stomach but also be the very height of your experience, the magic upon which the mundane pivots.And you have to feel it in all of it’s hurt before you can make a plan to get past it.

Your ups and downs don’t exist on an absolute scale and our two category system of good and bad involves a lot of making a fool of yourself in the hopes of heroism.

There’s always time to eat pizza in your underwear. You can do it in victory and defeat.

I will do it tonight.







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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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