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

Surviving your Quarter Life Crisis and becoming an adult

This beautiful evening

Posted on | August 11, 2018 | No Comments

Life is hard.

I used to look at strangers on the street to see the strain under their eyes and the tension in their shoulders to remind myself I wasn’t failing at being alive, I was just being alive. Subways are excellent places to understand the cages we live in. People looking at advertisements like they were the face of God all to avoid meeting the eyes of their neighbour. To see how much of our journey through life we take alone and the pain we hide from everyone besides people rude enough to stare at strangers.

Recently I have been trying to catch people smiling. Because everyone seems to do it. Even people you can’t imagine smiling or laughing.

I walk down Bloor Street, listening to music but I can hear their laughter through my headphones and I find myself smiling in response. Grateful to take in this wonderful alien frequency.

These same people can be seen with strain under their eyes and tension in their shoulders. But for brief moments they are laughing loud enough I can hear them through my headphones blasting Julien Baker.  And it reassures me. Because even in the worst times of your life there were moments where suddenly you’re just alive. You’re just a person listening to a joke and you magically step outside of whatever narrative you’re trapped and you’re just there in a space in time.

Those moments feel so vivid because they are true. Your anxious circular thoughts are full of hope and fear and the past and the future and the substance of thoughts can collapse when a new feeling arrives and you chase it and the equations you formulated no longer feel scientific but the ravings of a person gone mad.  It isn’t real and it can be depressing or terrifying. The worst feelings are fiction.

The best is true. Laughing is always real, as undeniable as the air you expel from your chest and the muscles you use that somehow push you back into life as an actual participant. As real as it feels to have music in your headphones pumping out sadness that says this is a part of the world, that Julien Baker’s feelings is as natural as the couple walking past you holding hands. Or the ladies standing outside of the halfway house passing a cigarette around and making jokes.

There are some nights in Toronto where you can go for a walk and you can feel everything.

And it reminds me of the times when it feels like there is only space for one event: a breakup, some disaster and little holes are stabbed in that illusion and the rest of the world slips back into your life. When I was depressed it was the euphoria I’d feel after exercising. After the fire, it was the sound of a loved one’s voice on the phone and the magic of knowing how to make someone laugh until you found yourself caught up in the joke. But it’s something to notice if you’re having hard times and you think things will never be normal again. You’re ignoring those moments in your day when things are the very best of what normal has to offer. There is laughter at funerals. They are kisses in depression. There are genius ideas in anxiety. They are moments of connections with strangers in times of loneliness that don’t carry over and become anything other than a great moment. There are so many cracks in this brick wall. And so much light is getting in. Because you forget where you are. So often you forget those places you decide you are all the time and you are as innocent and alive as you were the first time you fell in love.

There are breaks from the story you are telling yourself.

They happen all the time.

I’m not saying that when you notice them suddenly all the difficult stuff disappears.  Just that paying attention to those moments lets the air into your chest and lets some of that tension escape. We have this amazing capability to redesign the entire universe into that tiny broken feeling in our chest.

It is bigger than that. You are life is bigger than the life story you let yourself have.

Our experience is vast enough that we laugh with friends on the day we say goodbye to a person we love. That we giggle until our faces hurt on days when depression would have kept us in bed if we let it. That disaster can’t hide all the millions of reasons its great that we are alive. That the best times of your life can happen during the worst. You just have to train yourself to look at the world around you.  Because the trick works both ways. You can trick yourself into believing the world is simply an echo of the confined space of your story that is spinning infinitely inside your heart as it breaks, comes back together again and is ripped apart again by poetry. Or you can really look at the world and alter your view of what life is actually like.

I try to notice happy you make me. How often I forget. How many dark places I have been that have shattered and how much of my life I spend laughing because you are all such funny people.

And I walk down Bloor Street, listening to sad music, my heart incredibly full and I smile at strangers.

To help them break out.

So we can all enjoy this beautiful evening.




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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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