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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

Boy Scout

Posted on | August 19, 2017 | No Comments

I’m walking home from Contra and I see gray tendrils of smoke reaching into the horizon.

You can’t really tell how much smoke is normal for a barbecue and how much smoke comes from a building burning to the ground.  I know that my body tightens up a little as I see it. A natural human reaction. When you’ve seen what can happen you prepare for it happening again.

I decide to follow it. Maybe I’m being silly.

Maybe there’s a reason bad things happen to people. So that they can help other people when bad things happen to them.

I turn the corner. Because it’s near my new friend’s house and I immediately had this strange fear it would be their place and they would be in danger. Psychologically this fear makes sense. Because a girl died in my basement. During a fire. And we tried to get her out. And when I think of fire I think of women I don’t really know that well dying.

And a part of me thinks maybe this time I can do something about it.

My hearts racing a little faster as I turn the corner. Her house is fine.  The reassurance this offers is there for a moment and gone. The smoke is  still pouring into the horizon.

There’s a woman in her car. Working on making her key work. Twisting it back and forth. The engine comes alive.

I knock on her window.

She looks up.

“Does that look like a normal amount of smoke from a barbecue?” I ask.

She nods.

“Yes, barbecue. Definitely.”

Who barbecues halfway through the afternoon?

She turns on the engine and speeds away.

I don’t believe her. And I keep walking. Until I hear the fire trucks. The alarms blaring as they rush toward the scene.

I’m not needed. Someone knows. Someone qualified.

My feet keep moving. As though I’m asleep.

Lost in a past that I frequently forget. Because life is wonderful and you find things to love and pain recedes into the back of your brain. Waiting for moments like this.

It’s near Ossington Station.

The smoke is coming in great billows. So thick you can barely see.

Fireman race to combat the flames.

And idiots wield their phones. Hoping to capture this moment for Facebook. I contemplate yelling at them. The ghost of a titanic and unhealthy anger entering my chest. At my fire, I threatened a camera man. I watched as people gathered. Entertained by the end of a chapter of my life.

This is a different day and a different place.

I’m not needed here.

I walk away. Having played the boy scout. Pointlessly heroic.

I walk to Christie Pitts.

I text Elias and Dave. My two go tos in case of Emergency.

I tell them what happens and I sit down. Knowing that if I lose my mind a little I’m covered.

Only I know that won’t happen.

My head feels clear.

Like a windshield that’s has had years of grim wiped off and is finally fully clean.

All my everyday anxieties have disappeared.

I’m sharply aware of the true state of the world. Dangerously fragile. Miraculous in its lack of emergencies.

There’s a couple sitting next to me. She fiddles with his hands. Eager to touch her new boyfriend. Laughing. Her mouth so close to his cheek he can feel each breath she takes. Wonderfully alive.

I turn my face away. As the tears begin to pour down my cheek. The sound of my heavy breathing mixing with theirs.

On a beautiful day in Christie Pitts park.

Unable to pretend that I know the future.

Crying without sound.

As I thank life that I’m alive.



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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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