‘Some people say I'm unique, that there aren't other people with schizophrenia like me. Well, there are people like me out there, but the stigma is so great that they don't come forward.’ Elyn Saks

In the early 1990’s, I worked with a psychiatrist, Jay Smith, to explore the lives of people with long-term mental illness that lived in the Tower Hamlets borough of London.

Allowed To Speak, is a series of images and words collected from that time.

I doubt if I'll ever commit suicide but I know I won't live very long. That's just what I believe.

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My parents met at a dance and it was love at first sight. I believe they knew each other before.

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I had to let all my babies go, I couldn't look after them.

I follow Leyton Orient. I go to my mother's for lunch on Sunday.

There is no easy remedy, you've got to do things for yourself.

I don't want to be cut out of life. I don't mind if I just have a bed and maybe this is a home.

They say that mentally ill people are dangerous but I think they are only dangerous to themselves.

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I don't know if that radio's got any sense or if it's just a thing.

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I get worried about my age, as you get older you don't become no wiser. 


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I'm into the joy of living. I don't want to be an old person.


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I like it in this room, it's warm when it's cold.

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I ride the trains when I get worried and lonely. I get wanderlust and I wander.

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I see people. I see the children, they call up to me and wave.

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I remember when my husband died, I missed him.

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I am very ill, I want to go back to hospital.

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I like Shirley very much but we keep breaking up and making up like a couple of schoolgirls. 


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My friends are God and Jesus. Mary talked to me once, she said ... don't worry, it will be alright. 


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Where I live, there's people that look at me sideways and say ...he's schizo.


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I said to God ... give me a strong brain and give me another sickness.

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As long as I've got my Mum and Dad, I'm the richest person in the world.

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I'm quite happy the way things are now. I'm a lot stronger because I think every disappointment is a blessing.

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I've got a lucky eye and that's how I found all these things, in the street with my lucky eye. 


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When you have kids, the trouble is, they will always be there. 


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I am quite content with my life as it is now. I have a good quality of life, I think that's important.

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I am a bit confused but I think a man tried to abduct me in 1963. Ever since then, I'm sure he's been following me.

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I still think my voice is a real person. I call him Larry cos he sounds like a Larry. He's got a good sense of humour. 


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Mum's on holiday at the moment. I'm sure I ate her on the ward before. I'm sure I ate my father and my brother. 


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I think I'm a great writer; my first book was about a text book abortionist. I think it was good enough to get published.