A Reflection on ReAwaken

What could it possibly mean to re-awaken- to come to consciousness? With an eighth of this country on anti-depressants (second only to Iceland!) it's a real question for Australia today. But I've got a shrink, haven't I, and he's doing me good, right? So when I was asked to read a little of my poetry at the ReAwaken Australia Conference in Adelaide in April I thought it would be doing a small favor for a friend.

Instead it became a big favor for me. That Monday night I went out on a limb, taking it further than a poetry reading, into the troubled, normally silent world that I don't usually share. I opened a little door to another me. Planning it, I wondered what people would think. I didn't know anybody there, and they sure as hell didn't know me.

I needn't have worried. From the moment I sat down and in the moments of sweet music and grateful exchange in that audience that night, and in the days to follow in intelligent and, dammit, sensible discourse on not just what's wrong with us but what's wrong with what we think is wrong with us, I was to find more connection and compassion than I'd found in ten years of shrinkage.

I watched as the DSM was pinned down like the dead frog it is and examined for the twitch which still signifies life, as other acronyms were introduced and examined, as my PTSD became PTS and perhaps simply PT, affected by some pretty significant ACE and possibly an occasional BPD (on Mondays). It was alphabet soup for the soul but, rather than throw out old work completely, I was able to see the worth in it and the greater worth in a thorough examination of the true affects of the current bible - the DSM - its use and misuse.

Two days after my (gulp!) personal revelation, and after being exposed to many such reveals (suddenly, unexpectedly shared in both inner eye-opening sessions and sunny chats in fresh air) Kane and Klaire introduced me to the depth of work which has been done on PTMF. Look it up. I felt it immediately inform me (in-form me) and, this afternoon, I'll inform my psychiatrist about it - compare notes on the body of evidence for it, bring something new to the table.

And that's what this conference did - brought another face to the table, often the face of a so-called 'victim' or a 'client', or some more damaging label, but always the face of a heretic: someone willing to challenge an orthodoxy so flawed that even its authors call it out as bullshit. ReAwaken Australia's presenters and participants challenged that current paradigm, and its dominance, with a ream of well-founded scientific papers in their hands, personal experience in their voices, compassion in their hearts.

From indigenous women's stories about today's broken system to a plea to rehumanise the impact of trauma, from the suicide-deadly serious to the downright comedic, from the power-point to the coffee machine, this was a living re-writing of not just the DSM but of each life that attended. I shit you not - find out when the next time Oryx, Matt, Stephanie and PJ and their disorder dissenters, their analysis agnostics get together and make sure you're there. You'll benefit from the fresh air.

Rob de Kok

Rob is a poet, writer, performer, documentary film maker and stage director. His works have been published by SAWC, Heinemann Books, Oxford University Press, Friendly Street Poets, Wakefield Press, The Weekend Australian Magazine, The Broadkill Review, eMags in Australia and overseas and on travel blogs. Rob has taught Professional Writing, Poetry, Short Story, Creative Non-fiction, Film, Stage and Memoir writing at various South Australian tertiary institutions, in workshops for the Australian Writers' Guild and the South Australian Writers' Centre and for community groups. With his partner Sue, Rob runs Rosebud Writing Workshops in the Adelaide Hills. He continues to write and assists other to self-publish.

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