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I was born in London in 1951, and spent 20 years as a grammar school boy and then undergraduate at Reading University. I developed perception disorder (psychosis) and then spent 20 years in and out of mental hospitals (an asylum revolving door patient). The last 20 years have been spent in the community with support from mental health services.
I am a Doctoral Award Candidate working on research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council exploring participatory approaches to archives. My research represents a collaboration between the Department of Information Studies at UCL and the Wellcome Library. I am using the creation of this mental health recovery archive to actively explore issues connected to 'participation', 'collecting' and 'activism' in an archival context. Here you will find further descriptions about me and my research.
Dolly Sen is a writer, director, artist, filmmaker, poet, performer, public speaker, mental health consultant and trainer. She has 8 published books since 2002, including the highly acclaimed 'The World is Full of Laughter; she has performed at at The Young Vic, the Royal Festival Hall, and Trafalgar Square, toured and won awards for her poetry; her film commissions include the Barbican and The Royal Academy.
She dropped out of school at 14 because of severe mental health difficulties. She was told she would never amount to anything and was heading for Broadmoor. She believed this and was on her way to heading there when she changed her belief into believing she could do anything she wanted to do.
Peter heard his first voice aged seven, after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of a child minder. But as the abuse went on the voices increased in number, eventually turning sinister and aggressive. By his mid-twenties Peter had lost his business, his family, his home, everything. Peter spent more than a decade after that on heavy medication, but the voices never went away. He had to get out of the psychiatric system to recover.
It was only when he came off the medication and met people who share his experience that he was able to stop being so afraid of the voices and actually start listening to them. He changed his relationship with his voices and worked through the meaning of his paranoia. Life isn't easy. Peter still hears up to 40 voices at a time - it is worse when he is tired or stressed. But he has rebuilt his life and has even been hearing a more positive voice recently, which has dictated a children's book to him. It has recently been published entitled "A Village Called Pumpkin".
He now runs his own training and consultancy agency delivering training on hearing voices and paranoia internationally. "I wouldn't want to get rid of my voices now, they're part of me" he says.
Stuart Baker-Brown is a documentary photographer, writer and activist. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1996. The condition was fully triggered in late 1991 after he visited Moscow and took part in marching against communist hardliners who attempted a military coup against the then soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. On his return to London he felt followed by the secret services and fell into a world of anxiety and fear. He has travelled to the Himalayas and trekked to try and inspire and promote positive recovery from the condition. Stuart has won 'industry awards' for his campaign work fighting stigma and discrimination towards mental illness. He has worked with the media over the years. This work has included live television, live and recorded radio at both local and national level. National and local newspaper articles. He has recorded various 'in house' documentaries about his life and work and has made speeches across Europe to medical audiences from around the world.