Birdsong from Inobservable Worlds

Why should the people who’ve never visited a land be that country’s prime historians? How can we tell our true stories when our words are seen as sickness? The mental health archives at the Wellcome Library, as they stand, have observable data of inobservable worlds. Having mental health lived experience filtered by mental health professionals, is like lions representing bird song in roars.

The hidden song from the perspective of the individual has been lost or never valued in the first place. This is particularly true for groups discriminated against in society who have also been known to the subject of institutionalised discrimination from psychiatry. Medical archives and libraries are sorely lacking the survivor voice, especially the survivor voice of those more likely to be pathologised and ill-treated due to their colour, gender or sexuality.

Birdsong from Inobservable Worlds is a combined arts project (literature, performance, film) exploring and challenging the narrative in existing mental health archives. I believe they will be incomplete until those who have been labelled mad tell their side — not of their given labels but of their experience of psychiatry and the paths that led them there.

It is time to unmute the survivor story.