Clear Mind Conversations: "Mikey"

Mandy SprayMikey was fed up, in fact he was really upset and annoyed and felt like the world was against him. Mikey is 23, has a learning disability and works at a sheltered employment place growing and selling plants and vegetables; he loves his job, most of the time...

He was at work and had just fallen out with one of his best friends, he wasn't sure how the argument had started but he sure knew how it had ended! He'd had a strop, thrown his tools on the ground, shouted and sworn at his friend and anyone else who was around and stormed off to be on his own.

Mikey knew this was serious. It had happened before and the staff were really annoyed with him and threatening to tell his parents and stop him from going on the trip to a garden centre later in the week.

Mikey was in a thought storm; adrenaline was pumping, his mind was racing with thoughts of how unfair life was, he wanted to cry.

Ann, one of the staff went to join Mikey and took with her a cup of coffee; white with one sugar – just how he liked it. She'd made herself one as well.

"I'm just going to sit with you for a bit if that's okay" said Ann. "I know you're feeling horrible and I'm sorry about that. If you want to talk that's fine, if you don't then that's fine too."

Mikey didn't answer.

As they sat together in the sunshine Mikey noticed that there was a bit of a breeze blowing. He looked at the sky and noticed that the sky was a beautiful bright blue. He could feel himself relaxing a bit and looked at Ann who was sitting with her eyes closed enjoying the sunshine.

"It's not my fault you know" said Mikey. Ann looked over and smiled.

"I've got a learning disability and I get tempers, it's not my fault. People shouldn't wind me up."

Ann still said nothing but Mikey knew she was listening. She was one of the good ones, she never gave him a hard time and she seemed to like working with him.

"Do you get tempers?" Mikey asked Ann. He was sure she didn't, she didn't have a learning disability and always seemed calm.

"Ooh yes" said Ann, to Mikey's surprise. "Sometimes I feel really upset and cross and feel like everyone's against me. Is that how you feel right now?"

"I do!" said Mikey "But I didn't know you did too! They've all been really mean to me this morning, I don't even know why. It's their fault that I got angry, they wound me up again, they're always doing that."

Ann said nothing, just sat with Mikey and nodded her head. She understood all right.

After a while Mikey started talking again.

"I hate getting tempers, I wish I didn't because then they wouldn't all hate me, but it's not my fault, I've got a learning disability. If I didn't have that everything would be okay, I'd be kind and helpful and have a laugh."

"That's funny you know Mikey, because when I think of you I think of someone who's kind and helpful and good for a laugh" Ann looked at Mikey as she spoke and he knew she meant it. He felt confused, he liked Ann but she wasn't talking sense – that wasn't him she was talking about! Or was it?

"Do you really?" asked Mikey "what about what I did this morning, that wasn't those things."

"No, maybe not" said Ann gently. "The way I see it is that, that wasn't the real you this morning. That was the you that was feeling really bad because he thought everyone was against him and he didn't know how else to behave."

Mikey thought for a while. "So where was the real me then? That's daft, it was me that got angry and stormed off."

"I know it seems like that Mikey" said Ann. "But the real you was always there, just covered up with horrible thoughts in your head that told you that the right thing to do was to get angry and storm off. The real you, the lovely kind and funny Mikey is always there – just gets hidden sometimes."

"Okay, so if that's true then why does ‘mean Mikey' make me do those things?" Mikey could feel that what Ann was saying might be true but he was still confused.

"Now that's the thing that is really interesting, shall I try to explain it?" said Ann.

Mikey nodded.

"Okay" said Ann. "Something happened earlier and because the real Mikey was covered up and there was a whole bunch of thinking about everyone being against you, that made you feel bad and that made you get angry and storm off. Making sense?"

Mikey nodded.

"So, what if the real Mikey had been there and you hadn't thought that everyone was against you, but maybe felt that they were tired or grumpy instead and didn't really mean to say those things?"

"Well I wouldn't have got angry and stormed off. I might have thought it was funny or it wouldn't have bothered me." said Mikey.

"That's brilliant Mikey! When someone says something, you can let the real Mikey choose if you get bothered or not. Sometimes it's good to take a deep breath and let the real Mikey choose, that part of you is really good at knowing what to do. How do you think the real Mikey would take it?"

Mikey thought for a while.

"Well, if I was the real Mikey; kind and helpful and funny, I might want to help them out if they were feeling tired or grumpy and maybe tell them one of my jokes or maybe make them a coffee like you did for me"

Mikey liked the feeling that came with that thought! The real Mikey that could help people when they were down, that felt good! Another thought came to Mikey then.

"I think I'd like to be kind when we go back and say sorry that I kicked off, that would be good because I don't like it when people don't like me and I expect they're feeling bad as well. Would you come with me?"

"Of course I will, and I am so proud of you Mikey" said Ann. "You've really listened this morning and I think the real Mikey is right back with us! Don't worry if you get times when you feel bad again, remember we all get like that sometimes. But I reckon you'll start remembering the real Mikey more and more and the bad times will get less and less, how would that be?"

"That's brilliant! I am the real Mikey aren't I - I'm going to try not to forget again. Do you think you and me could tell the others about this one day, and the staff because I'm sure they forget sometimes too."

Mandy Spray
www.clearmindacademy.com

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