Colony of Losers

Colony of Losers
Location
Halifax, Canada
Birthday
December 31
Title
Colony of Losers
Company
Check out my blog on http://colony-of-losers.com/wordpress/
Bio
Michael Gray Kimber is a 26 year old writer from Halifax, Nova Scotia born slightly after the ides of March. Since the age of six when he realized his career in professional modeling was going nowhere he has wanted to be a writer. At the age of 10 years old he wrote his first book “A Game’s Master Games”. It was a derivative of Mortal Kombat and if published would have resulted in a rather lengthy lawsuit which would most likely have ruined his middle class family. Much has changed since then. His brother became a rapper known as Josh Martinez. His father Stephen Kimber began known for punching idiots in the face with his oh so powerful words. Graduated from King’s College with a degree in English as well as a degree in Journalism he finds himself on the hunt for actual employment. Launching his blog Colony of Losers he hopes to get attention for his finished novel For Four, encourage magazines to give him freelance work and find an employer who will make all his dreams come true. During this struggle to become an adult he came to grips with an anxiety disorder that would see him lose the ability to sleep and go to war with himself. He went looking for a cure, trying every solution suggested by the internet, from self help groups to medication, to hot yoga where beautiful women farted in his face to meditation sessions with madmen. Nothing was too ridiculous in the hopes that he could make it all stop. The Cure is his story, as friends and family made him realize that their wasn't a cure, there was simply learning how to live with it. 1 in 5 deal with mental illness. The system is not equipped to deal with them. The stigma of mental illness is keeping us from recognizing the crisis that is facing his generation. The ridiculous and offensive honesty of this story is meant to give a human face to what we would all prefer to look away from. Read his series in its entirety at http://colony-of-losers.com/wordpress/?page_id=273 While this begins with his story it will soon move onto his talented friends, inspiring strangers and absolute nutjobs he meets along the way. To get in contact with Michael please email him at Michael.g.Kimber@gmail.com. PS my avatar is made by the amazingly talented Peter Diamonds who is the chief illustrator in the series.

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Salon.com
JANUARY 4, 2011 5:35PM

I can't save your life

Rate: 32 Flag

Dear Michael,

 I happened upon your amazing post tonight.  I wanted to contact you to say “thank you” and to tell you that you were also telling my story.  I have bipolar disorder; I’m very open about it and how it affects my life.  My family knows, most of my friends do.

 The holidays are a misery for me.  I am almost always suicidal from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, and this year was very difficult.  Thanks to my family and friends (and my doctor), I pulled through without harming myself.  Though I’m beginning to feel better, I am still very fragile right now.  Unfortunately, my “best friend/boyfriend” can’t handle it when I fall into the abyss, and tells me I should, essentially, be “present” and “think happy thoughts.”  I should have shot him, but I just broke off with him.

 So, here’s the issue (maybe you have a better take on it than I do) that has plagued me since my breakdown ten years ago:  I know my life has value to others, but why does it feel it has no value to me?  Is caring how my demise will affect the people in my life enough to continually live through these murderous lows?

 I don’t have any answers for these questions, and I don’t know where to look within to find them.  Michael, what stays the hand?  Do you know?

I’m not going to pretend to say its easy to come up with an answer to your question or say that your words don’t make me feel infinitely small in my inability to provide you with an adequate answer.  Not because there isn’t one, but because to pierce through that gigantic darkness requires a patience and understanding of the person that I lack in regards to a complete stranger. And I’m not a trained psychologist. I highly advise seeking counseling and help if you feel like this.  But I’ll say a little something because this is not the first time someone has asked me something like this.  And I mean not the first time today.

So this is me just talking straight with you. I’m a poet so some of that straight talking is going to sound like Radiohead Lyrics, Hallmark Cards and Dr. David Burns masturbating to Ben Harper.  But I’ll try my best.

I can tell you that I have been in the darkness that absorbs the past and blurs any concept of a future. Where you live in a constant present moment that is made up of only your fears of the past and the future, your guilt and shame, living in ultimate nowhere.  I have been in so much pain that I didn’t want to live or even have been born if I could escape it. I also know that feeling is strange to me now. That outside of it, I can barely understand it.

You say that you always feel this way from Thanksgiving through New Years. I looked at the calendar recently and noticed there are all kinds of other months in the year. I understand how a person can forget that. There also isn’t a guarantee that you always return to darkness.  Sometimes things actually do get better.

My bipolar friend Alan, said this to me in an email recently:

“I am 48 years old and am a self-employed and own a web design company. I was working on a term job in Canso Nova Scotia when I could no longer function and was later diagnosed with bipolar II (depression) about 15 years ago. Like yourself, I was informed of a six-month wait to see a specialist. Much noise was made to see someone within a month. I bounced around the system for many years before finding a drug that worked for me for many years. I stopped taking any medication in the fall of 2007 after suffering no relapses for well over 10 years.”

Basic summation of my Hallmark story without Full House music: even this can change.

This person drifts away and though they come back you get to enjoy things that the dead don’t. Peace is nothing compared to the raging fury of the joys of life. The sound of laughter. The taste of your favorite food. The knowledge that you are completely and totally ignorant of all the joys you cause. The chaotic force of your every action and the imprint you make on the people you love.

In the darkness you are blind. Recognize that. Rationality crumbles and your brain chemistry tries to take away everything you want and wish for to get away from the pressures of wanting it. Be easy on yourself.  Remember that this feeling will pass. And if it comes again, it will also pass.

In regard to people telling you to have positive thoughts and the desire to commit murder as a result, I totally and completely understand.

You can’t base how you feel about yourself on the ignorance of a loved one. As you won’t understand this person when you feel normal again you can’t expect someone who hasn’t lived through it to understand it. I’d go fucking apeshit on a person who told me to be positive when I’m depressed. May as well tell a cripple to run on broken legs.

However…they know not what assholes they be.

People are raised on happy endings and stick to it clichés. No one knows the right thing to say about mental illness. We don’t have training. Most of them mean well and speak not because they think they know the answer but because no one taught us how to shut the fuck up and listen. Everyone wants to help to not feel so helpless.

(IE Journalistic Masturbator responds to stranger’s suicidal tendencies with awkward poetic ballad aimed to change life, cue movie montage and save the day like some Hassidic Inigo Montoya. “My name is Michael Kimber, your disease is an asshole, prepare to die disease! The pen is mightier than the sword. Fezzik! Fezzik! I need you! This piece is getting away from me.  Fezzik please!)

Brief pause for Princess Bride related excitement to subside. Back to the point.

I know that you’ve taken a lot of hell in a lot of seasons. And you’ve walked forward. Each year you’ve lived past those Thanksgivings and the barrage of be happy and be loved and be grateful with nuclear explosions of winter, hateful chemicals, Christmas trees, family photos, Wal-Mart Commercials and bullshit New Year forced happy celebrations. Remember that the Holidays are bullshit. No one is as happy as the photos. And eventually we stop faking our way through winter and get past the snow and commercial clean smiles.

Remember that first feeling of spring.

Those moments when the nightmares end.  When just being alive is a dream.  That feeling of the sun on your face and the realization that living moment to moment isn’t a complete and utterly losing battle. It comes. It has year after year and as long as you hang on it will come again.

(Think positive! It all gets better soon!)

On some real shit, life isn’t ever going to be without mind shattering pain as long as you give a shit.  Pain is the mortgage on love, on self, on life.

The only reason you feel pain is that you are alive. Who you are from the first moment you were born is the movement of pain to pleasure. Your mother’s screams became her tears of joy at having you, the person she loves me more than she ever thought possible. That first pain when you lost your virginity lead to that eventual orgasm and screaming joy life and pain and shaking knees and getting to play with your favorite things.

The skinned knees from repeatedly falling to the ground lead to that feeling of flying on your first bike as the world flooded past you and you moved like the wind.  The tears of grief and loss of things you don’t get to hold in your hand and keep forever are remnants of the joy others create in you. Our bones creak; skin sags and hearts have difficultly beating, because you can’t hold all that life in you forever without exploding, you have to break to let more life in. It’s good to break. As your mother lost pieces of herself to make you, so do you lose your old self each time you dip into the darkness. A new you emerges each time. Stronger for the suffocation.

I’m a better person for what I’ve lost.

There are no erasers in life. You can’t take it back.  All the joy I create now was formed in the compassion created by that darkness. You are no less alive then the people who don’t know the darkness so fully. Who haven’t fought that war with themselves to live every single day, not to the fullest but at all. Because you don’t have a choice in living it to the fullest. Your extremes, your ups and downs, that feeling of horrifying pain, of everlasting fall, creates a completely and totally different emotional geography then someone who doesn’t face your struggles. Your world is vaster, more in one lifetime then you ever wished, but it is life and you are fucking overflowing with it.  Don’t curse yourself for that knowledge, or hate yourself or feel guilty. You are brave and strong and worth being alive.  Don’t blame yourself for having scars. War does that.

The things you have are so much significant for how far you have to go to get them.

Death promises nothing.  The world is no better for losing the fullness of your experience. Because others walk through darkness without your knowledge. You can help them. You can help yourself. You owe it to yourself to do everything you can to live.

You are breathing right now when others in your situation weren’t lucky enough to have your strength, your family. Hold onto that. You are lucky. You are blessed to have the courage to live through what you have and you hold that control. When you feel you have lost it, go get help. Because you’ll get it back and you’ll remember that strange sense of how could this happen that I feel now.

Staying your hand for how you’d make your family feel if you left isn’t enough. Remember how they make you feel. How you make them feel even in the worst of your misery. That the world comes back. That you’ll see again. And the world is so fucking beautiful when it comes back. When you can feel those joys you’ve missed, when you’re in the moment without anyone having to tell you to think happy thoughts. You’ll be there again.

Remember that every year you go blind and later on you see again.

Wait till you can see again.

You aren’t numb; you aren’t an absence of life.

It took a lot of people loving me and a lot of therapy and work to see again.

But I do and I love it so much more for having myself back, for having waited.

Even the pain of losing the girl I loved more then anything, I can see her and I can see us and how we were and I just feel so fucking grateful that I ever got to have that in my life. That I know I made her life better even when I could barely take care of myself. You are capable of loving and being loved in the worst of your own nightmares.

I’m not saying be wildly optimistic. I’m saying work, and wait, until you are rational again.

There is still love for you, the love that exists in others that you’ve touched in the past and love that you don’t even know exists yet because you haven’t created it. We can’t help but create pain in ourselves and others as we go through life, but we create love too and happiness and joy out of that.

The universe came out of the darkness.

So will you.

PS Make a frown into an umbrella, beat the shit out of a leprechaun to get the gold at the end of a rainbow and remember that your glass is half full…. of shit right now. But it won’t always be.  Sometimes there will be orange juice.

Michael

AKA The Aryan Inigo Montoya

Thank you very much for your thoughtful and generous response.  I’m fortunate to have a good psychiatrist, but it’s a question I guess I will always struggle with.  I will, however, keep this email to read when the night descends on me again.  It poses some strong arguments for living that I can’t quarrel with (nor would I want to).


Please know that this message you took the time the write means a great deal to me.  I’ve read it over and over, and, finally, this is something beautiful that makes sense, even within the fragile state of mind I find myself.  I’m better today than I was yesterday, and better yesterday than I was the day before.  I have to remind myself of all of this.

Your kindness and clarity helped me, Michael.  The finger is off the trigger and I am emerging once again.

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It is all so raw and real, thank you for your work and these posts.
rated with love
Brilliant/honest.
For family reasons, I've become among the most knowledgeable lay-people, re: Bi-P there is. I think you did so well here. R.
The only reason you feel pain is that you are alive. Who you are from the first moment ....

you know the answer to his question, as do i,
and it is not a nice neat one.
It is: Things Change,
Always.

I'm bipolar, obviously, but i have a handle on this horrible
condition:
"I know my life has value to others, but why does it feel it has no value to me? Is caring how my demise will affect the people in my life enough to continually live through these murderous lows?"
Answer is: maybe so....
with the important caveat that this is the
survival instinct glowing through the low....
this is actually healthy,
in our upside down world.

honesty time: we bipolars embrace death like a lover.
It is our way to stay alive, paradoxically enough.,

It WILL get better, but only with self understanding
and good hearty humor...
it's time for we bipolars to
speak out and make a noise,
unless, of course (ha)
we are crouched under the covers
holding our breath...
Wow. What excellent thinking you have (said the Wolf, but not really). I hope the platform you've been given to bring this into the light is going to be big enough Michael. My thoughts for continued centering and clear-minded days are with you.
Everyone considers whether to be or not to be at one time or another. That suicide is a bad example for one's children is a good enough reason for me to stick it out to the bitter end. You are a courageous soul.
An old phrase but, "Baby Steps." We have all been in depression at some time in our lives. I still fight it even though my life is now good. -R-
I linked my fb to your earlier post...it is such an important one! Thank you for sharing these exchanges...so vital. I remember taking one moment at a time and saying something akin to what you shared...I've had this feeling before. I'm having it again. It will pass. ...and it will. Thanks for your writing and for giving insights into the worlds of bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, mental illness. Rated with appreciation and gratitude with wishes for your continued health and willingness to help others. R
There are some posts that leave the reader wordless, because to say any more seems intrusive, somehow. Thank you for this moving post.
Thanks for all the well wishes and for so many people sharing my last piece. It means a lot. Also for all the people sharing their own stories on this wall. Thank you.
Hard to find the words and my jaw that nearly hit the floor. Um, well, this is heart piercing to imagine you and Michael and so many others go through this on a regular basis. Some near me suffer from this as well and there are no words that I can add to what you have so eloquently and knowingly put to a near prayer like response to Michael. I am stunned by the total of this and for both of you. I do love the spurts of humor you injected throughout and always draw on humor in my own life situations that bring me down. It takes a village at times when we are depressed or feeling so "less than," to bring us back up to the surface to gasp for air, feeling depleted and hopeless. And doesn't even touch clinical depression or worse. It's just the variations of normal highs and lows that all humans feel on a regular basis. The weight of this is unimaginable for many and common to so many others. I only hope for you, Michael and others that an ability to overcome the ugliest moments, can and will outweigh the demons taunt to bring us down. To fight for all that is good on the worst of days...to champion for ourselves and all those around us who would suffer dearly the loss of us. To love, to need and be needed, to find some particle of humor, some morsel of hope in each day, is all we can collectively do in this frail life we navigate together. There are glimpses of heaven here if we can muster the strength to peek through the tears. xoxo
The inside of life and the outside of it, invert and cause chaos, the thing is we can only deal with the whole, we don't get to shave off what we want to. This has been some very good advice. Peace.
intelligent, sensitive, richly expressed, and powerful because it is grounded in and harvested from personal experience and because of all that a gift of the heart and mind to others; those in need and those who can learn from this. keep on talking - this is no masturbation.
I am going to suggest something that cures depression, that deep sadness that never quite goes away no matter how hard one tries to tell your psyche to snap out of it, you have so much to be grateful for, etc.,etc. It is so strange and I don't know how it worked but here goes...After years of living on that edge, I was at a state fair and saw a ride called the sling shot. It flings you up 300 feet or so into the air while being attached to a giant bungee cord type lifeline. I have never felt like I was in the bell jar again! I think it acted like a natural shock therapy, and my life is completely different..I am no longer sad or depressed or anything but grateful for each minute of every day. I hope everyone who needs a lifeline tries this, it changed my life forever. love and blessings
I have to say I love the idea of a lifeline that is literal. Good on you for finding something that worked. Bungee cord, circus ride, whatever the fuck. Different things work for different people. If fighting ninjas does it then fight some ninjas. For me CBT, meds and writing have worked. I've never really felt suicidal for any long period of time. I think two nights in my life I wished I wasn't alive. I have never gotten to the practical planning stage. I know what suicide is when it's sucessful. My friendship group was destroyed for years after our friend killed himself.
This was one powerful conversation, Michael. Thank you for bringing this very important subject to light.
I respect your posting, even though I live on a different (easier, perhaps more boring) plane. The effort counts.
My only additional comment to this thoroughly outstanding post is, sometimes when the darkness returns we aren't necessarily going backwards, we may be going in deeper. Darkness is a part of the human condition until you can bring your inner light to it. I hope this person finds the right circumstances to help guide them there. I have been on the edge not valuing myself for years on end, then, I found amazing help. Keep trying! You're worth it, even if you don't believe it yourself right now!
A very real and emotionally impactive letter. We are blessed to have you here.

"Remember that every year you go blind and later on you see again."

My best friend is bipolar and I love her dearly. She is a high maintenence friend but she is so worth it.
You do important work and I'm glad to see you get the exposure, both because I think you deserve it from an artistic standpoint and because you have helped and will help others.
From a song by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins:
"You are what you love. Not what loves you back."
My prayer: That everyone find their love for it is a candle that burns in the darkness. Even in the darkness of 1,000 unlit brick-sealed chambers, the light of one small candle can pierce the darkness. Perhaps if you carry even one small lit candle in your soul, you can make it through life. Love the match, love the spark. love the flame, love the ember.
No one can save you but you. We can give you advice and try to give some coping mechanisms but believe me, when the night descends, you are on your own and doctors, and specialists and, pills are only tools. I share the things you speak of. The "holiday season" for me has been hell from October to May. Everybody has at one time or another felt as though the only reason to live was the pain that their passing would bring to loved ones. After 40 some odd years of being diagnosed I can tell you that if it works then it is worth it.
What I do is write. I write what I feel and that helps me keep track of how magnified those feelings are due to my disease/illness. That they are just like the words I write, they can be captured and controlled by putting them down in writing. I am not swearing that any of this will be what ultimately helps you get through the times of self loathing and fear and pain, only that they are not insurmountable and that whether you believe it or not you have value and you fill a place in the cosmos that no one else can, it is your place for as long as you are here and if you leave it before the time is due then what you were meant to do will not happen and things will be forever changed for the worse. See a doctor, get meds, and by all means talk to someone even if it's uncomfortable. Isolation multiples the pain exponentially. Sharing it will lighten the burden.
You wrote: "The knowledge that you are completely and totally ignorant of all the joys you cause. "
Very beautiful.
This is an epistle worth saving, for, even if I am not a bipolar person, I am still apt to waver over a past which nearly drove me mad at one point.
But I am stronger for it, as you point out. The whole world does not revolve around our sorrow, yet must acknowledge we have been given more than our fair share of the sorrows of the world. It may be hard for some to acknowledge, yet it must be perceived, felt for, remembered, and then cared for.
Your honesty here was a welcome change from that overloaded nonsense of TV land which says, "Eat this-you'll look thin, take these pills--they make you look great to yourself, be like the people you view on the tube--they are more important than we are."
Life is a blowback from our conscious thought. I stay out of TV because of it. And I would recommend that for anyone suffering any mental affliction of long or short duration. It has helped me relate to the real portion of my mind more easily when push was coming to shove and I felt too sorry for myself to breathe. That, and a journal which I keep almost daily, along with good friends and a family member, make this world real, doable, worthy of existing for. And I find each holiday season to be easier than the one before, simply by focussing on creating new memories with old friends instead of dwelling on the background tone I was given at birth.
Well, not to stand on a soapbox for too long here! ;)
You do such excellent work! You redignify our nature.
Peace to you
Wow. I thought I might read through the 90+ PMs that await me, but.. no. I am humbled to my core by your wise words. What you have done is important. Peace to you, to Michael and to all souls, especially when it seems difficult to go on.

Beautiful. R
Great posting. You deconstruct a spectacularly heavy topic and shine a much-needed light on it.

Rated!
a w e - luv the compassion and understanding. that you GET it (the darkness... and more) R
This was posted on 1/4, the exact day my bi-polar father killed himself at age 50 in 1999.

I can go on about the devastation to his children, two of who may not make it due to their response to his choice. But people cannot live for others, it is not enough, it does not mitigate the pain of the sufferer to imagine the suffering he might cause to others.

Suicide is a fantasy. A fantasy of escape, and of the pain we feel ending. But no one knows what happens when we die, so killing yourself might land you in even more pain than you were in while alive.

It is a gamble, with odds that are not measurable, and therefore would be considered poor. We all want to escape from our pain, in that way any one of us can relate. But there is magical thinking involved in suicide, and that is something I think those contemplating suicide must consider.

What really makes you think the pain will end? You have no idea where you are going. All you know is you can never, ever come back. I know I'm using logic, and it does not work for everyone, but it worked for me.

I'm a gambler, but I like to win. And I never bet without knowing the odds. My father killed himself to escape his pain, but whether he succeeded is an unknown. The only thing we know for sure, is he left behind far more pain than he ever could have imagined. He was a man of peace who left the world worse than he found it, especially for his six children, and that fact alone would rob him of any peace he might have achieved. If what we do here matters in the next world, I imagine him full of regret that will never allow him a moments peace. And that could continue longer than the relatively short lives we live here.

Who knows?
Wow. Just... wow.

Someone I love very much falls regularly into the abyss, and while I've had my share of depressing moments, trials and tribulations, I cannot pretend to fully know or understand the extent of his pain. I tend toward an optimistic Winnie-the-Pooh and feisty Unsinkable Molly Brown type of attitude, and when Eeyore speaks, I am baffled at the "why" behind the almost constant gloom, pessimism and cynicism. I guess it's not about the "why" but simply that is IS. Like everything else in life, it's going through the experience that molds a piece of our psyche. We learn little when the seas are smooth and gentle.