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  • Mark Parker

Catapulted into a Chaotic & Perpetually Traumatic Cycle of Relapse, Rehab, Repentance & Recovery

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

2012 - 2013

I undertook my second attempt at rehabilitation at Nygwalla Willumbong Aboriginal Corporation's - Galiamble: Mens Recovery Centre in ST Kilda Melbourne. This is an incredibly difficult to speak to experience which lead to the development of numerous significant relationships. From what I understand Galiamble was originally founded by some Aboriginal people who'd achieved recovery via AA & dedicated their lives to helping others. Although officially an "Aboriginal service" Galiamble was committed to remaining all inclusive. The premises was an ex housing commission block of units at the top of the hill on Grey St, St Kilda that was donated by our loving Government after it burned down.

Due to a combination of still being in withdrawal being fresh out of detox & my first time in Melbourne, I was disorientated, physically weak & scared upon & for some time after my arrival. Whilst being shown to my room which although rough around the edges just so happened to include the best view in the house (overlooking Grey St) - I heard screaming. Upon further investigation I spotted two hookers fighting over the corner & across the road bloke with no pants. I remember thinking "Fuck, I could find drugs here faster than an ATM".

Early in the program I became inspired by one of the groups "Digital Narrative" which combined Narrative Therapy (which had been one of my favourites at University) & Digital Media. See "Digital Narrative" Galiamble - Dec 2012 (#01/#02) & "Digital Narrative" Galiamble - Dec 2012 (#02/#02).

Galiamble was an interesting service which was set up in a manner that was flexible enough to cater for the complexities of people from all backgrounds including those who've potentially lived "rough" their entire lives. In other words it was realistic & as far as I know remains the only rehabilitation service in Australia where smoking is permitted. Despite urine screening & processes to maintain a recovery focus, some grace appeared to be given to those putting in genuine effort whilst others (especially on court orders) found ways around systems. Inevitably, this all lead to some extremely interesting & chaotic times where literally half the rehab was relapsing. However, between sticking with those serious about getting well & freedom to attend 12step meetings, escape down the beach & staff even supporting my dance as a healthy recreational activity - the hardcore nature of the environment was conducive of recovery in preparing people for the harsh realities of the real world.

Due to the full on nature of the environment, limited time with councillors & social conditioning - I didn't really have the opportunity to even try & discuss the complexities of the trauma I'd experienced let alone work through it.

During Art Therapy on this admission I produced the Universal Asylum founding artworks: Boundaries of Love, Love @ First Flight Ocean Breeze & a set of 4 Pea-cocking Showboat, 2D, No. 2 of 4 paintings.

Towards the end of my stay I undertook a second "Digital Narrative" video "Digital Narrative" Galiamble - (01 March 2013) which combined Narrative Therapy (which had been one of my favourites at University) & Digital Media.

Late 2013

Upon returning from Galiamble to my unit in Unley, South Australia - I proceed with active involvement with 12step fellowship, positive recreational activities such as dance performance & seeking employment. However, with almost no support & living in a house full of ghosts that triggered my complex post traumatic stress disorder & complicated bereavement disorder - I didn't really stand much of a chance & as fate would have it upon returning to Adelaide I succumb to the danger of isolation & "falling off the radar" I mentioned in my second "Digital Narrative" Galiamble - (01 March 2013)

Inspired by a combination of "Digital Narrative" & despite opening up another huge can of worms in short this would inspire me to record countless hours of footage over the following years as part of an abandoned production named "Godley - Case Manger of the Universe" which was a desperate attempt to try & create something to salvage my career & facilitate a broad range of activistic objectives. I was possibly still in shock at this stage & for many complex reasons unable to speak of the abuse I'd experienced.

Just as I'd secured a job with Life Without Barriers & several weeks prior performing in a collaborative piece representing Brazilian Dance Fusion & Latin Dance Nation & the Brazil Central national Zouk congress - I relapsed...

Subsequently, my health deteriorated so rapidly that by time it came to Brazil Central I would end up disgracing Adelaide in a 6day blackout involving Valium, Xanax & copious amounts of Alcohol further compounding & adding to the complexities of my trauma, reputation & social isolation. The thing I recall most of the odd memories of what one can only assume was 6-7 days of absolute chaos was people coming up to me in the mornings & saying "are you ok" in a genuinely concerned manner & after responding with blank looks of confusion them adding "you can't remember anything, can you?". Although I can remember the Zouk performance as I'd slept that day & had just woke up, in the condition I was in it was amazing to have got through the performance at all & lucky I didn't drop her or in other ways harm her, myself or others.

A "Digital Narrative" of me speaking with a councillor about the incident can be found on the Universal Asylum blogpost "Digital Narrative" - Xanax Blackout @ Brazil Central Zouk Congress late 2013 During Hectic Relapse!

I'm sure many will say that's what happens when you "abuse" medication. However, the reality of this situation isn't that simple. I was only prescribed them as I was nervous about the flight & performances & didn't take anything until I got to the airport. I started off with either a Valium, a Xanax or perhaps one of each as I recall being nervous & bracing myself for the journey. It's likely I had a beer on the plane as I do kind of vaguely recall arriving in Brisbane. The thing is that as I was unable to stop drinking & due to the nature of the effects of mixing such medications with alcohol - I wasn't in a state to manage anything. As I only started coming around once on my way to Ipswich to see my Grandad Ralph having run out of medication by then - it would seem that over the 6 days I averaged 8 x Valium & 8 x 1mg Xanax & incalculable amounts of alcohol. I'll never forget the immense confusion, guilt, shame & fear I experienced as a result of what tragically remains my only ever National Dance Congress.

2013 – 2014:

After being fortunate to survive an incredibly dangerous few months relapse I returned for another ST Kilda summer of rehabilitation at Galiamble: Mens Recovery Centre.

I was extremely traumatised by my Brazil Central Benzo Blackout, confused by the little bits I recall of whatever happened & tormented by the fear of the damage that had caused my already shattered reputation. At this stage such trauma almost took over or at least added to the complexities of the trauma associated with the abuse surrounds Dads, Bens & Stacy's deaths. I'm unsure which bits were more traumatic the direct emotional/psychological abuse or how that was used to destroy my reputation socially & sabotage career as a Social Worker. All of which was tied into a healthy self esteem & identity I'd invested years of hard work building as a component of overcoming significant adversity.

Another "Digital Narrative" interview / exercise I undertook in December 2013 : "Digital Narrative" - Name Your Anger "Crystal Ball of Reflection" (2013-2014).

During Art Therapy of my second admission to Galiamble I produced the Universal Asylum founding artwork: Log-Out, Oh My Fucking God, Circle of Life, 3D, Oh My Fucking God - Sacred Yoga & began production of Oppression & Main Stream

Whilst trying to figure out what was different between my first rehab in 2004 at the Woolshed & my first rip to Galiamble - I decided that a combination of the trauma associated with moving home & the fact that I no longer had appropriate support networks there was the problem. Therefore, I applied for housing in Victoria & pretty much moved from Gali into the Vassiliou Château in The Pines, Frankston North, Victoria with Emanuel & his crazy kids.

Haha, I have literally 100's of hours of interesting footage & we drove one another mad, attempting to maintain our recoveries in between our own combinations of meetings, work, dancing, home workshop projects, Emanuels crazy children & me out dancing, etc. Fuck I love those cunts.

Whilst staying in Château Vassiliou I started production lines of Peacocking Show Boats & probably fucked up a fair few of his tools with my crazy art projects including: Small Peacocking Show-Boat, Large Peacocking Show-Boat - Storage box Oppression & Main-Stream.

This is a huge chapter of my life that gets a bit blurry as I once again relapsed whilst staying with Emanuel & on & off between attempting to secure housing in Melbourne where I'd developed greater support networks & some amazing friends. I actually did end up securing my own public housing in Prahran, Victoria at some point but only need up there for a couple of months as I was relapsing hard & pulled the pin & returning to Adelaide where I was closer to the kids.


I return to Adelaide & after reuniting with an old friend who shall remain nameless until otherwise appropriate - I began experimenting with the potential therapeutic value of N, N-Dimethyltryptamine with promising results despite active Alcoholism & heavy drug use drastically limiting such results.

I overdosed twice but survive thanks to my brother & Naloxone (Narcan). I actually believe the only reason the CUNT fucking around in the video of the OVERDOSE or it's extended version Nearly Dying from Heroin Overdose after being Drugged & prior to being Robbed (Late 2014) pictured above bothered administering Naloxone was due to my brother walking in as I was dying on the floor. After being forced to save my life he still proceeded to rob me. I only got this footage back after he came to my door waving the memory card from my camera under my brothers nose claiming he'd "found my belongings" & I could "buy them back". Of course anyone whose met my brother know's he didn't pay to get the card back. I would have never usually allowed someone like him in my home. However he gave me a drug I'd never had before Lorazapam - A mistake that nearly cost my life. I also experience a severe concussion due to a head trauma sustained in a car accident around the same time. During this period I developed a suspected Aquired Brain Injury which manifested in a headache that would plague me for the following years. After a chaotic blur I eventually ended up back in Melbourne where I experienced another overdose & ongoing relapse.


I'm still not entirely sure when my application for housing in Melbourne to attempt making a new start finally came through. However, according to this mail receipt I was living there in January 2015.

2016 - After several attempts at rehabilitation in Melbourne, I undertake another 5-6mths of rehabilitation at the Woolshed Therapeutic community, Ashbourne SA after which I have remained abstinent from Alcohol & other illicit substances of concern including marijuana. As with my previous experience with rehabilitation facilities - they are a great place to get clean. However, they offer very little in terms of what it takes to stay clean or maintain recovery. It's true. I could not have stopped using without going through detox & the extended break rehab offered to get the drugs completely out of my system, get some healthy food into me & build some level of healthy routine. There were also some life skills that are likely to have benefited me in the real world too. However, maintaining recovery is far more complicated that & requires far broader conversations than I am currently in the position to go into.

During my second admission to the Woolshed Therapeutic Community, Ashbourne South Australia (my 4th Rehab - excluding 2 admission to awards independence) - I produced the artworks: Ego - Self Indulgence & True Love

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