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“We will label you. We will punish you. And this is true of women in Victorian times who were labelled as ‘hysterical’. [In the UK] being Gay was a ‘mental illness’ until the 1970s”

Artist, poet, writer, activist, filmmaker and professional mischief-maker: Dolly Sen, joins us to discuss her own experiences and career, and why she questions whether ‘mental illness’ even exists.

We talk about the current mental health care system in the UK, what needs to be done to improve it, and how humour and the celebration of ‘madness’ can be a powerful tool to engage people’s interest.

Find out more about the Lively Minds podcast at

Episode Transcript



E: Hello, my name is Ellie.


W: And my name is Will.


E: Lively Minds is a UK-based podcast about mental health challenges that go beyond the ebb and flow of the everyday. 


W: Led by People With Lived Experience, this podcast is less about how we deal with our mental health problems and more about how we understand them in the first place. 


E: Todays guest is artist, poet, writer, activist, superstar, filmmaker and professional mischief maker Dolly Sen. We begin by discussing Dolly’s own experiences and career before confronting the existing mental healthcare system in the UK, what needs to be done to improve it, and how humour and the celebration of madness can be a powerful tool to engage people’s interest. 


Before we go any further, we’d like to mention that in today’s conversation we cover a number of topics that might be upsetting. This includes psychosis, institutional racism, sexism and homophobia, institutional gas lighting and the experiences of being a psychiatric inpatient. If anything comes up that you need help with right away you can find signposting to support on our website


Now let’s hand over to Dolly. 


D: Hello! 


E: Hello! How are you today? 


D: I’m very well, how are you?


E: I’m very good as well, thank you. So I’ve got you on this podcast for many reasons, other than that you’re great. 


D: Thank you. 


E: But one of them is of course all of your amazing art activist, creative protest work in the world of kind of mental health. So I just wondered if to start with maybe you could tell us a bit about why and how that’s the area that you’ve ended up working in, I guess.


D: Well, I had my first psychotic episode at age 14, so I had to drop out of school and I was on my way, well, the aim was to be a doctor and I was very good at sciences and maths and after I became psychotic, I don’t know how to count in that, how to count very well anyway and that has kind of continued till this day and so I spent a lot of my teens and twenties actually just sitting in my bedroom alone because I was just too terrified to live and it was only it was creativity that

kind of got me out of that room so I started to write poetry about loneliness to make me feel less lonely and I started to have pen pals and a couple of the pen pals were writing books and I thought I’ll give that a go and so that’s how it started it was creativity saving, my mental health and giving me a reason to get up in the morning. 


And so I had my first book launch in 2002, which is like 21 years ago, I can’t believe it. And, I am old, let’s face it.

I am of the age that I can access help the aged stuff and aged concern.


E: oh amazing


D: I don’t think they’ve got anything they can, they can help me with though. I do do this, I do kind of go off the point, so do rein me in and out of that opportunities arose and I wanted to also make films, I did a film degree and just because I like art, I just wanted to be an artist. So but most of the work, the early, my early creative career was talking about my experience and my, the way it was like to have psychosis in the world and it was only say like 10 years ago that I started to think beyond myself. I was living in London at the time and our local mental health services were being cut so that’s where how my kind of protest began. So for example there was a culturally sensitive service in Lambeth that was going to be cut and that was the first time I held the placard but at some point I was holding a placard outside Maudsley Hospital which is a famous psychiatric hospital in South London and I realised I’m not going to change a thing holding this placard up. The people who are walking by, the pedestrians will just think I’m a nutter and I will make no impact to the building behind me that I was protesting against, except have a chat with the security guard. It will not touch the establishment or the institution at all. So that’s how my art activism came about and I had just come out of hospital that point as well. So what I did was I tripped advisored at the Maudsley hospital and its it got the message across. People understood what I was trying to say and with creativity and humour you can say serious stuff and people will engage with it because how, how you know how many people, if you stop them in the street and say that this hospital is doing this and this and this, they will be a bit scared but if you kind of, yeah it’s kind of like a way in, creativity and humour and that’s what, and  those are my weapons I guess. 


W: Can you just say what you mean by you trip advisored the hospital? 


D: Well, I actually made a complaint because I was on an inpatient ward and the first night I didn’t even have a bed and I slept on the sofa in the communal hall and while this was happening tables were flying over my, well just the normal inpatient a psych ward really, and was quite neglected by the stuff, which is not unusual for me or anyone else in that in those circumstances. So what I did what I did was say that the service was rubbish. Where was my chocolate on the pillow? I talked about their spa treatment, which was the control and restraint. So yeah, I kind of, yeah, I just made it look like I had booked into the Maudsley for a hotel stay and it was not a nice hotel. So for example, why are they taking my shoelaces and belt? Do they only have a really skinny washing machine? Is that why? I don’t know. So yeah, it’s that this. Yeah, and if you do it that way, I think people respond better to it and they actually understand what you’re trying to say as well.


E: Since you got into the kind of activist like performance art kind of thing, I remember you sectioning the DWP of course and more recently the death certificate for the NHS and with all of your work and things I find myself like snorting coffee out my nose laughing when I see it and then and once I’ve finished initially laughing, I’ll have a sort of a moment of mourning. Like you’re hilarious and it’s hilarious and you’re right, it’s the way in.’Cause then afterwards people think, oh no wait, no, the NHS is being murdered before our eyes. That’s horrendous.


I guess ’cause you’ve had a lot of those like horrific experiences yourself as an inpatient and things, ’cause you’re so engaged with mental health kind of publicly in conversation and in your work and everything. I guess kind of how do you find that your lived experience sort of intersects with that? and I imagine it could be a bit overwhelming when it’s sort of your focus all the time or…


D: I yeah it’s not, it’s not my only focus which is I guess the saving grace because you know I do just like to make things just for the making sake like that doesn’t get shared publicly and I, I do laugh at myself a lot and I think that’s probably saved my life many a time. I mean I’ve, I’ve got a dog called Scamp that I take for walks and he kind of helps.


Yes, so I’ve got lots of ways to kind of just step away from really the tough stuff. But you know, I also think, I also think that, this might sound a little bit weird, but I did use to study Buddhism. I’m not a Buddhist, but I do take some of the teachings and there was a teaching I remember this Thai teacher saying, you know, “Don’t worry about your glass or your your mug because it’s already broken.” just to you know, just be in the, you know, be in the moment and understand everything is already ended and it’s already broken, so I think of,  that my life has already been lived, I am just writing the story of it right now which might sound a bit weird but that’s why that’s what I’m doing I realized that my life has already lived been lived which sounds weird but I’m just writing the story to that point. And so I don’t want to be the one that said I could have done something and I didn’t do it. So that’s the kind that’s the motivating force. Yeah, I’m not going to be one of the quiet ones. That doesn’t do anything. I understand why some people can’t. But there are people who can and don’t.


E: That’s really beautiful, I’ve never heard that phrase before, like your cup is already broken, so don’t worry. That’s lovely. One of our overarching kind of questions for the podcast, which I think probably came from a conversation Will and I were having, or a dynamic discussion rather than an argument as we’re calling them, about how we talk about what phrases are used, not just by institutions, by like healthcare, but in kind of the media and in day-to-day conversation.

That’s what I’m quite interested in, how people generally talk about things like mental health. So one of them is kind of mental illness. And I just wondered what your thoughts are, I guess, about the use of those kinds of phrases. Mental health, mental illness, mentally ill.


D: When I’m talking to people who’ve got shared experience, I always ask them how they’d like to be, how they’d like their experience referred as and I would respect that. But I don’t believe in the term mental illness myself because of a lot a lot of reasons. One of the reasons is that most mental health conditions, you can’t have no biological markers. It’s really, I mean apart from things like brain injury and dementia, it is very very hard to find, say in a scan or in a blood test. So what’s the illness part of it?


E: Exactly.


D: Yeah, but if somebody says, you know, if somebody said, “I see my experience having mental illness,” I won’t argue with them, I would respect it. I don’t believe it is. And I just think. It’s, you know, for example, you know, in the UK, young black men are more likely to be sectioned and or labelled schizophrenic. Are they? But if they come from like second or third or first generation immigrant families, the land of their ancestors family, if they were there, they would be less likely to have those experiences. It’s going through the process of being alienated and discriminated again that could trigger psychosis. So I would argue with any psychiatrist, when a black person goes through Heathrow to say, for example, there’s a refugee and comes here. Is there something in the in the Heathrow or Gatwick system that triggers off a a kind of biological response? No, I think, you know, my personal feeling, and I might be wrong, and I’m happy to accept I might be wrong, is that it’s trauma, it’s stress, it’s, you know, a long time heaviness on somebody’s soul, somebody’s heart and their immune system, their mind, it’s the mind or the brain reacting to that. And the other reason I don’t like the term mental illness is that then it will be only treated medically. When a lot of people’s distress can be remedied by stable housing, you know food in the fridge, less money worries, love, yeah love, not being in a domestic violence situation. A lot of it can be remedied. In fact, there is more evidence of the causes of mental distress being in social and political situations than there is in biology. So it may be a mental illness, it may just be a genetic thing that is switched by stress, which is some theory, somebody’s theory, but it might not. And I’m just saying, the idea and the question is open up, is open for debate.


E: Because you said at the start as well, I can’t remember if it was when we were recording actually or not, but you mentioned that your views on in your kind of understanding of what mental health is, has changed kind of throughout your experiences from the start of when you were first kind of…


D: Yes. Well, yeah, I thought I had a illness that could only be fixed by psychiatry. That’s like the first 10 years of my experience. And it was actually when I hit 30 and I realised psychiatry can’t save me. It has to be other things. And not that, you know, when I’m in crisis, not that the medication hasn’t been helpful, it has, but it shouldn’t be the thing that’s given to me for the rest of my life, and nothing else is done. Because that’s that’s what causing me more suffering, not less. So it was at 30, I thought, no, I need to change some things. So I started to kind of, because I was very isolated, started to go to coffee mornings and mornings and stuff like that, and read and learn about things. And then I realised actually, well, I don’t know if it’s been your case Ellie but we know when you you’re with other survivors the the the percentage of people who have experienced trauma is high. You can’t that can’t be ignored and it is ignored in psychiatry. 


E: Which makes absolutely no sense. 


D: Yes. 


E: Especially for yeah because they they they’re like the academic world of it is still so biased towards quantitative research and numbers and things like that, how can it not see that, I mean, well, any any kind of survivor group or organisation, I don’t think I’ve met anyone in those situations who hasn’t experienced some kind of trauma, and yet that’s still left out of their kind of framework, I guess.


D: Or it’s used against them, you know, if if you say, and I can only talk about, you know, the experience of people around me. If you protest too much about you know, I need to help with my trauma. Well, if you keep doing that, you’re going to get the personality disorder label slapped on you. So it’s actually used against people’s not just ignored, it’s used against people. And I think if you know, if I don’t know, I don’t know the planet will be here in 100 years time. But this, the kind of the mental health system or whatever is in place in 100 years time, going to look back at this time and think, oh my god, what were these psychiatrists thinking?


E: Yeah, definitely.


D: If they’re not, I…


E: That’s just too depressing to think about.


D: But no, but I think they will. They’ll think, you know, why wasn’t the trauma, you know, responded to?


W: I think what you said at the beginning was really important as well, Dolly, which is this idea that people should have the right to define their own experiences in a way that works for them. And I guess what that points to is this idea of self agency and power, doesn’t it?

I absolutely agree that the deep, deep politicization of mental health that’s happened over the decades is a massive problem. And that there are exactly the reasons you say as to why people are labeled mentally ill and are pathologized. And I guess that in many situations, it’s people who don’t have the agency to be able to take control of the way that their mental health problems are understood. For me, it’s all about that. It’s all about agency. It’s all about people being given the tools to be able to make their own decisions as much as possible. And I completely agree that there is a long way to go before that is the case.


E: So I’ve been really distracted since you mentioned about the, you know, if you keep protesting and basically being difficult means you’re going to be slapped with the personality disorder label for life. I just have been really distracted by a memory of when I was about 20, coming home after a night out with a friend, quite drunk, came in through the door and there was a letter for me, so I opened it and inside was one page less that said.


“Dear Ellen, following your recent appointment, you have been diagnosed with emotionally unstable

personality disorder. Please see the attached leaflet”. 


And the leaflet the leaflet was yellow with a dandelion, the flower that you blow in it with its way, with the dandelion being blown on it. And remember looking at and thinking, “Have I died? Have I died?” This leaflet is to explain to me how limbo works. Am I going to grief counselling for myself? So I’m just really distracted by the image of that leaflet. 


D: Maybe you should have trip advised the limbo. 


E: That would be, I’m definitely going to do that. I’m not sure, I think I might still be in it as well. So then that was like 10 years ago so 


D: Yeah, and you know, many a psychiatrist has tried to slap that label on me. Yeah, I will all I will always protest it and say, what part the criteria do I fit? I mean, I don’t, I don’t self harm. I don’t have unstable sense of self and all the things they like. Yeah, throw and they go, they go, oh, actually, but you’re gay. 


E: What


D: I go, Excuse me, doesn’t mean you’ve  got unsafe and stable sense of self. 


E: No. 


D: But or that you know, you’re a big woman. I swear, are you going to label every big person in this country with a personality disorder? Anyway, it is more, I think it’s two or three or three or four things on the criteria has to be met before you can like, and they have to withdraw it because I know, I know what I’m talking about. 


E: Yeah. 


D: And they keep, keep trying to do it and I keep saying what where’s the evidence? Not that I believe in the you know, the construct anyway. 


E: Yeah and they yeah when I finally got another diagnosis that at least made a bit more sense to me and I was like okay I’m willing to go with that one for the sake of me then accessing the right mental health care and treatment. It’s taken like 10 years for them to take the other one, the other off my record and they don’t understand why I’m so obsessed with getting it taken off and I keep saying it’s because of your prejudice against that label makes me then receiving other care more difficult.


W: If you’re enjoying the show please consider supporting the next series of the Lively Minds podcast. We are recording the next season right now but we can’t finish it without your help. To make a donation no matter how small head over to T


Now back to the show


W: So from your from your experiences, where do you think the need for the psychiatric profession to give you these diagnoses, I mean where do you think, where do you think it comes from? Because just to quickly explain these dynamic conversations that Ellie and I have had in the past, as we put it, it. I I had a very different experience when I was trying to get to grips with my own mental health problems in that the doctor that I went to see were actually very keen not to diagnose. They were very keen to sort of call it teenage growning up issues and things that everybody faces. And what I mentioned in our very first episode of this show is that that there’s very fine line I think between on the one hand doctors trying to be nice and trying to not medicalise a situation which could lead to pigeonholing and so on, on the one hand and on the other hand by saying well everybody’s going through these issues you very quickly start thinking to yourself well why is it that I’m not able to cope with it then does that just make me weak and ineffective and is the problem is with me right, rather than thinking this is a mental health problem that I’m experiencing. But what I would also add to that is that I totally think that I’m in a very privileged position, right? Because I, you know, I have always been my own boss. I’ve run a business since I was in my mid 20s. And now I, you know, I’m a senior person at an organization in Newcastle. So I have a lot of self agency going back to what we were talking about just a few moments ago, meaning that, you know, I think I’m lucky in that I’ve, I’ve got a lot of of self-agency. So I know I’m, you know, and I just wonder therefore, like, from your, both of your perspectives, where does that need from the psychiatric profession to give you these diagnoses come from?


E: I have my own answer, but I think I might let Dolly answer first.


D: You answer because I’m still percolating.


E: Yeah, I mean, my instant answer is control, power, bureaucracy. I think bureaucracy is less so why this ended up, why this became what they want to do and more is a massive reason of why it’s not changed. But those labels are like cinema tickets to treatment. That’s why I think it’s going to be hard to change and that’s why people often end up basically, that medicalised structure forces people into a position where they’re seeking out these really rigid, unflexible medicalised terms for what they’re experiencing, because without those labels they’re not going to be able to access things like counselling, support, support at work, stuff like that. That I think is why it’s hard to change, or it is going to be hard to change, but it’s also why I think it’s so important that we change it because that’s an entire structure that is forcing a specific view of what our minds are and what our sense of self is and what our mental health is onto people before they’ve even had a chance to think about it themselves. And, you know, historically, why do we have these labels and things its so that so that people so that those in power could lock up and throw away the key to people they didn’t want to bother with didn’t want to hear from people who were disrupting things, people who needed help that they couldn’t be bothered to give people who weren’t important enough to put the effort into help them. That’s kind of my quite practical answer I think.


D: Yeah, I think, I agree with you there. I mean, when I was in my teens, I don’t know what my diagnosis was. I know I was in hospital and was getting medication and seeing people, but nobody ever told me what my diagnosis was. And it was only like in my early 20s that I got was getting the letters sent to my GP. And I’ve had a few different diagnoses, which is the other thing, if it is a medical condition, how come, where’s the validity in the scientific understanding of that when I can be seen by three different doctors and get three different labels. But you’re the the thing, you’re right about it being a cinema ticket because without that label you won’t get counselling and you also won’t get benefits.


E: Yep. 


D: And that is going to be the sticking point. Which to me means, you know society has to change. And society is a bugger. It doesn’t want to change. So you know, if we’re understanding this person is going through turmoil at the moment and they will get a benefit while they’re in turmoil or unable to work because of the stuff that’s going on. That should be, that should, you know, we should think like, okay, let’s do that. But we are such an awful planet at the moment. It’s, you know, I’m going, I’m sorry to bring that dirty word into the conversation. Capitalism is driving more and more people mad and it’ll be at some point, most people will be mentally distressed rather than not. And the fifth, you know, I, when I talk to people about the one in four, actually there is there is no report that says it’s one in four. Yeah. You know, the World Health Organization just plucked that number out the year literally. There is no evidence. You know, I to me, I think it’s higher. 


E: Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s three and four. 


D: Yeah, or three and a half and four even.


E: or four in four? 


D: Which reminds me, I’m sorry I go off on tangents, but I did something with time to change when I actually believed what they were doing. A tram in Sheffield was turned into a padded cell and our spiel was one in four people, but actually while it started its morning journey, there were the four of us ambassadors. It was four in four.


W: I mean, I guess just going back to my question, what is interesting is that you’re – so I’m hearing you both talking about that kind of cinema ticket idea that people are sort of forced into seeking out diagnoses in order to be able to get benefits or to get support that they need. From the other way around, in terms of what the psychiatric professions’ motivations are, I’m still not quite – I don’t think I’ve ever quite grasped that because, well, I guess there are,

I mean, you know, there is the stuff that, you know, from watching maybe one too many Adam Curtis documentaries, that there is stuff around it being used, you know, medication being used, first of all, for pharmaceuticals to make big profits. And I took even though I personally take medication, and I’m very pleased to take medication because it’s really

helped me. At the same time, I also realised that that is definitely the case. And there’s the case to argue there, right the way through to, you know, those experiments happened in Montreal that were funded by the CIA, which was all about mind control, you know, and actually it was very much a control thing like Ellie you referred to in the very early part of your answer.


E: But it is also it’s a, it is the capitalism problem because the main reason I think, based on that structure stuff that I said before is that what’s the alternative? So for them, in their mind, they’re like, what’s the alternative? We invest in community mental health care. They have this wrong idea that community-based mental health care, you know, investing more in people’s living situations, making sure people can be fed, making sure that that care that makes people’s day-to-day, make sure that people’s day-to-day daily needs are met and can facilitate other modes of recovery. They think that’s a big expensive project, what’s a lot cheaper is to give people drugs and a short course of therapeutic treatment. But it’s wrong because there’s so many campaigning groups, so many studies, so many case studies, of how much money has been saved in lots of communities when they’ve they’ve decentralised the care from the local kind of mental health hospital psychiatric unit and and invested in peer support groups and lots of things in the community. It’s saved so much money for the healthcare system.


D: Yeah, if you look in like worldwide, what has helped people’s mental health when they’ve not relied on psychiatry?

I mean, I don’t know if this is true of Cuba now, but it used to be if somebody say in their village was hearing voices or really depressed after giving birth, they wouldn’t think that the problem was in that person. They will think, what have we done to kind of facilitate their distress? And how, what can we do to help that person? And that’s a very different take on mental health as to, you know, the psychiatric point. But psychiatry, I think it’s a couple of hundred years old. And it just likes to tell people what to do, what to think. And if you step out of line, I mean, this is one kind of take on it, we will we will label you and punish you. And it has been true of women in Victorian times who are labeled as hysteric, hysterical. You know, gay, being gay was a mental illness until the early 70s. Traptomania was a label given to black slaves that ran away because you…


E: Which then was developed into schizophrenia.


D: Yes.


E: And that’s the history of that diagnosis.


D: Well, hysteria has just turned into personality disorder.


E: Yeah.


E: You know, and being being queer has been turned into, you know…




D: Yeah. It’s just, if you’re not… I think, you know, psychology is complicated but part of it is it part of its role is social control because it’s if psychiatry turn it turned the tide said no actually we want people to have things to be able to live a good life and to be able to stand up against uh institutions like the government or police or whatever um it’d be a different kettle of fish just like as we’ve talked about how your kind of view of mental health and how you’ve understood it has changed throughout your experiences and people you’ve spoken to, things you’ve read and things like that. So did you

say that first book that you published where you spoke about your experiences was 2002?




So how many years ago?


That’s 21 years ago.


And that’s what the book was called The World is Full of Laughter. And basically, at one these coffee mornings I went to try and improve my social skills. Which are amazing by the way. Thank you but I do have people edging away from me very slowly at time. Yeah so yeah I just basically wrote by, I was invited by the publisher who came to this coffee morning to write about my experiences so I did and although I had been a writer already I didn’t have stuff published, I mean I didn’t have whole books published, I was in anthologies and stuff so yeah. And I talk about my childhood and what made me mad really and I talked about my experiences in the hospital and then how I tried, I tried to kind of regain some control of my life. So that was that book. 


E: Because it is something to put those kind of personal experiences out there into the world so I guess in the last like 21 years I guess I wondered what you think of how public attitudes have kind of changed whether that’s sort of UK media or like just people in the pub chatting, how people’s attitudes towards the idea of our mental health has changed in that like 20 years.


D: Yeah, I’ve seen some changes, like more kind of open debate and acceptance of some parts of people’s mental health conditions. So for example, I think stuff like depression, anxiety, people are more open to talk about and admit to having. And I think one of the problems with the Time to Change campaign, which was the anti stigma campaign, was that it was saying, you know, it’s time to talk and but that kind of puts pushes to the side a lot of people, so for example when I was during one of my strong psychotic episodes I thought I was Jesus. So just imagine going to an event where they said it’s nice to talk and this elderly woman comes to sit next to me to talk to me about my mental health and I tell her I’m Jesus. How’s she going to deal with that?


E: Yeah, 


D: so there there is there is I don’t like you use the term worried well, but people are comfortable with that kind of stuff

You know with the and I don’t like to call them lesser conditions because they’re still as painful. Probably not as disruptive as psychotic conditions, but in 21 years is still that nothing has changed for the people who experience psychosis with regards to public attitudes. Because when I moved to Norwich, because I live in Norwich now, two years ago and I told my neighbour what I was doing and he said, “Oh, you hear voices.” He was visibly scared until I kind of, you know, got to know me, didn’t realise I wasn’t going to hatch it here, you know. But that’s what people’s beliefs are. They are frightened or if you’re talking, say you’re networking and people talk, “Oh, you made a film about psychosis of that’s interesting so what’s your connection to that?”

“oh, I experience it” 



E: yeah 


D: so so there I think in some ways it, the conversation is opening up, but in some ways I think, in some areas it’s remains very much closed 


E: yeah because it’s like there’s more it’s like there’s now a new checklist they’ve made a new checklist that’s like acceptable mental health experiences and certain things are on there and then yeah like the rest hearing voices psychosis is still on the same list that they’ve been on for like 200 years. I don’t know how do you think that will be or could be changed?


D: I think this is the problem, psychiatry gets in the way. It has, when for example somebody wants to make a documentary about psychosis they will go to a psychiatrist first. And then you know, for example, I read, you know, Steve Stephen Fry talks about in his bipolar documentary, to get information about the experience he went to a psychiatrist. And so they’re the kind of gatekeepers of what the information to the, to the general public is. And that’s, that’s part of the problem. And I, around, around the time of the book, that book was published, my The World is Full of Laughter. I had somebody who was interested in making a documentary about Mad Pride. And we went to Channel 4. And they said, Channel 4 said, No, people, the public won’t understand that there are people who are proud about being mad, you have to be the victim, otherwise, it will confuse them. Or you have to you have to be in a negative, negative role in media, otherwise, it will confuse people.


E: Well, first of all, don’t insult people’s intelligence. And secondly, if they if people do think that it’s your fault because you’re the broadcaster. So it’s your job to put things on like a documentary about Mad Pride to show that there’s other ways of understanding things.


D: Where is where is the mainstream documentary on Mad Pride? 


E: Yeah


D: There isn’t one or the documentary about people with psychosis, I can’t say living ordinary lives because I don’t live an ordinary. But, you know, but you know, because I’m, you know, I’m a carer for my partner. I, you know, I do lots of other things. And I’m actually, well, I actually say I’m also lying when I say I’m not that scary. I am scary to lots of people, because they are in my firing place. But those who are not, I am very, you know, kind calm, funny person to say, what the kind of perception of somebody who’s psychotic, who’s not that scary, whose psychotic being unintelligent. Oh, you can read then right. I’ve had earning a living. The only reason I can earn a living is being self employed. But still I am earning a living.

So there’s so much things that haven’t changed over the 21 years I’ve been in kind of fighting and campaigning. I did have an idea of protesting about the DWP by going into just to explain, 


W: sorry to interrupt,just to explain to any listeners who aren’t from the UK, DWP, Department of Work and Pensions, the UK government.


D: I was going to, yeah, I was going to go, one of my plans was to go into a newsroom and sit on the newsreaders lap and talk, tell the truth about the DWP. But I realised that might backfire because I’m mad. You see you know so although I could argue a very logical explanation and a compassionate explanation of what I’m doing that the fact that I’ve got that you know label is no no no invoice what I want to say. 


E: I guess last question is like a really big one at the moment how do you in like a kind of abstract sort philosophical sense I guess for want of a better word like understand our minds and our kind of mental health whether that’s day to day or longer term.


D: I think being a human being is an absurd and ridiculous career so some of it is going to be confusing some of it is going to be funny exciting some of it is going to be painful. And I mean, I’ve done some work like where I’ve given a website, a psychotic episode. And my argument is you can’t because I was talking about artificial intelligence and you can’t artificial intelligence can’t be like human unless it can go mad. It’s a very human experience and it is usually a response to a response to thing. I mean, you know, and this is not rocket science, if you’re a child that hasn’t been beaten, raped, starved and all those horrible things, you’re less likely to go mad. So why can’t we create a world where we don’t drive people mad and only drive people mad with our singing, are irritating habits, you know, it’s philosophically, I just think, you know, I mean, I don’t, I’m an agnostic, I don’t know what is beyond, but you know, my theory is stuff like madness, stuff like being gay or trans, it’s just an evolutionary, I don’t want to call it a glitch, because I’m not a glitch, but it just happened a evolutionarily. I don’t even know that’s a word. Yeah, and I just think we’re just like, we’re in between ape and angel. And that’s a madden experience. And we should just care about each other more. That’s all I can say about it really.


E: What’s next for you at the moment then?  what are you kind of working on at the moment?


D: We are putting the finishing touches to three books that we’re going to launch next month. So there are three books about experiencing discrimination in the mental system. So, so there’s one on misogyny in the mental system, one is being queer, LGBTQA+ in the mental system, and there’s one about racism and anti-Semitism and the kind of like discrimination based on ethnicity and religion and stuff like that. So we’re going to launch that next month and I’m also going to put on a short drama about my experiences of racism at the same event. And I’ve got a few films to edit and then now I’m quite free. So I think, I I think I might just make up something. I’ve got a few ideas that I that I are floating about. But this is the thing about being a creative and being a self and probably creative. You don’t know what works gonna come your way. 


E: Yeah. 


D: and some of some of the time you have to make stuff happen yourself. So that’s, that’s what’s probably going to happen. If not, I think I will go. If I don’t get any work this year, I’ll go into accounting. 


E: Okay, I mean, or you could you could go on strike again. 


D: Yes. As an accountant, who was never an accountant. 


E: Yes. 


W: Thank you so much, Dolly. It’s been so great to have you.

It’s been amazing. 


E: Thank you, Dolly. So really, really fascinating. 


D: Thank you for having me.

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Lively Minds is an Anya Media //// Still Ill OK co-production

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