Editor’s note: I didn’t know much about Michael Kimber (left), other than that he was the son of Hali-famous journalist …
The day that no one could save meBy Michael Kimber | Oct 13, 2010
Editor’s Note: Michael Kimber is a 26-year-old journalism graduate who created Colony-of-Losers.com, a record of his quarter-life crisis and struggle to grow up following the end of university. In July, he began writing the “Cure,” an honest, haunting and hilarious story of his nervous breakdown and the first love, friends and family that helped him get through it. Receiving 5,000 hits a week and thousands of fans from Halifax to Saudi Arabia, readership from such noteworthy authors as Commonwealth Award Winner Shandi Mitchell and New York Times writer Jonathan Lethem. In this guest column, he explains how it all began.
“You aren’t going to believe the day I’ve had.”
My roommate looks up from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the spotted blue couch that has been Depression HQ since my November breakdown.
“What happened?” she asks.
“I lost my job and my girlfriend almost broke up with me,” I say.
“Shit,” she says. “That’s not a good day. How are you?”
“Better,” I say. “I can do better. I don’t think I need to work at a job I hate.”
“And your girlfriend?” she asks.
“She deserves better than the dude I’ve been lately,” I say. “And she’s going to get it.”
“Where are you going?” she asks.
“To clean my room.”
My room is a shit hole, which may explain why we haven’t slept here in weeks. Circus-red walls, gray-black carpet covered in the detritus of the various stages of my depression from half-empty bottles of prescription medication to herbal cures and self-help books.
Grab garbage bag and fill it with my last six months.
I can see my keyboard again.
My family has a multi-generational history of anxiety and depression. I finished university and everyone asked me what I was going to do with my life. Surprisingly, no one gave me a future with my degree. Staring into the void between university and adulthood I panicked.
At the beginning of November 2009, I woke up feeling like caffeine had been injected into my veins, brain spiraling, filled with a nausea I felt in my head rather than my stomach. The war against myself had begun.
Soon I wasn’t sleeping.
Desperate for a cure, I tried everything.
I ate healthy, cut out booze, weed and caffeine. Experienced the reality of an overburdened mental system where two percent of health spending goes towards fifteen percent of the problem. Where only one third of people suffering mental illness actually get treated due to stigma.
I meditated next to a madmen with a mullet. I went to hot yoga and had a beautiful woman fart in my face. I went to therapy. Got down to two hours of sleep a night. Finally I got prescribed anti-depressants and learned how to fall asleep again.
When things got better, I settled in. The pills changed the situation but didn’t change me. Everyone in my life had gotten used to taking care of me.
And I was used to being taken care of. Even by my girlfriend who I would have done anything for. In the darkest times she was my evidence that my fears were wrong. That if someone so lovely could love me then I could too. I made her my cure.
The worst thing you can do to someone you love is make them feel like you need them to live.
A few weeks earlier I started Wellbutrin. It acts as an amphetamine and counters the sedation of the Remeron. Anxious as hell, I let my jealousy tag team with my insecurity and made the best girl I have ever met feel unloved. I blamed it on the medicine. I blamed it on anxiety. I said I was sorry but didn’t know what it meant. She comforted me. She made it okay when it wasn’t.
This morning she started crying. Told me how I made her feel. Watching the tears fall down her cheeks I knew what I’d done. That it was my insecurities that was hurting the girl who made me happier than I ever expected I could be.
I had the choice.
Not in whether we stayed together but in how I treated her. I vowed that with every action from that day I would let her know how much I loved her. To learn how to see the world again so that she could know how I actually saw her.
I lost my job because I didn’t care about it, I thought I deserved special treatment because I’d gotten it my whole life and I was fucked up after all. I let her forget how much I loved her because I was sick and thought I deserved special treatment. The day I took responsibility was the day my depression ended.
“You sure you’re OK?” asks my roommate, barely audible over the sound of my fingers tracing fire on my keyboard.
“Yeah, I am.”
March 28, 2010 I decided I wasn’t going to wait for someone to give me my future or bitch about how hard it was to get a job in journalism or make it as a writer.
That day I started writing Colony of Losers.
A blog about falling on your face on your way to figuring out your future and the people that help you get to your feet. To honour my Colony who got me through the toughest time of my life. To tell their stories.
March 28 was the day I realized that no one could save me.
So I was going to do it myself.
“Afterthought” is an opinion column, featuring guest contributors. The opinions featured are solely those of the writer.