Mike Bailey has been a friend to Independent Thinking for many years and, if you have watched any of the clips of various Associates on our YouTube channel, you will have seen his handiwork.

Apart from a rich and varied life he also suffers from MS

This post from him is part of his work drawing on his own experiences to help children struggling in a traditional school setting.

Mike’s passion for life and contagious enthusiasm is an inspiration to us at Independent Thinking. Bear his story in mind next time you see that child struggling to think…

The teacher is talking about Shakespeare and reads out loud a quote from Hamlet. He’s heard it before somewhere…Then from nowhere she asks him to write it down on the whiteboard for her. Whoa!! He didn’t expect that! Fumbling for the marker he drops it on the floor.

‘What the bloody hell did she say” he thought to himself as he clumsily picked it up and began writing.

He found it difficult to write neatly with the problem he had with his hand, a problem of which nobody in class was aware but still, embarrassed, he pressed on. The more he thought about what she had just said the more it went away from his mind. He read back the first couple of words to himself and realised he had missed out some letters.

‘Bollocks’, he shouted in his mind. By this time he had no chance of rembering what teacher had said. ‘I know the bloody quote though’, he said to himself and so, straining almost visibly, he delved into the dusty shelves in his mind…

‘No, not a bean!’ He could feel panic welling up in his body but remembered

something he had seen on telly, or was it someone who had been in school? It was something about that when you feel panicky you should try to relax and not let yourself ‘go reptilian’… ‘Nope, Just thinking about that is loading up my brain even more. WHAT DO I DO!!!?’

‘Come on we don’t have all day” urged the teacher, the learning not the learner on his mind.

He was dragged back through the endless locked doors of his own concentration, past the empty shelves of his memory and – PING! – back in the class. ‘How long have I been thinking?’ he asked himself. ‘Did I just make myself look a total twonk?’ He turned around to see the look on the kids faces, then back to the teacher and felt an uncomfortable, overwhelming feeling of both embarrassment and anger.

“Get stuffed, I’m not thick!’, he snarled at them all. ‘Just give me a bit of time and space and I could do it’. Only he didn’t snarl it at them, he just thought it, to himself.

“Give me the marker! I’ll do it myself or we’ll be here all day” sighed the teacher adding that flick back of the head and the clicking ‘tut’ he had heard so many times before in school.

‘Give me the marker, I’ll shove it where the sun doesn’t shine, you fat cow!’, he thought. But that’s all he did – think. As he went and sat on the edge of a desk feeling so small, completely drained of the self esteem and confidence he had brought t the classroom just minutes before, he knew that that was the worst thing she could have said.

‘I’ll not let the same thing happen next time. I’m not thick, I know I’m not’ he thought to himself… the same old dialogue.

All of the above is true. But it did not happen to a child but to a 50-odd year-old guy doing some temping as an English technician in a local high school to cover a bit of extra cash for his day job as a cameraman.

Yep, that’s me.

To explain, I have MS, a condition which I have generally been able to manage and cope with by using will power and positive thinking. ‘The pain’s in the brain’ as I used to say. Used to say.

Recently, though, it has been chipping away at the old frontal lobe which has had quite a…lets say interesting affect on my life. The very thing I used every day to cope with pain, fatigue, and the many cognitive issues of daily life we take for granted has been altered. First subtly. Now less so.

Now find I have trouble recalling people’s names, making decisions, motivating myself like I used to, feeling confident and many other issues. As you can see from the above story, these irritating elements of life with MS have now become my bed chums.

But not for long. I fully intend to find a way to re-route my thinking process. If I can do this with my physical state I must be able to do it with my mental state.

Self-motivation has not been a problem until now with most of my life being punctuated by doing exhilarating things that maybe most people would want to do but probably would never get round to doing (racing driving, flying, being in a rock group, you know the stuff – for more follow the link to my profile on the Independent Thinking Ltd website)

But now……………now I really understand. I really understand what most of the kids deemed to be thick, disruptive or autistic have to deal with.

As a freelance cameraman and producer I have had the pleasure to work with such labelled kids documenting them both on film and in workshops and even before my deterioration I had felt a huge amount of empathy with them.

The only thing is kids, as we sometimes forget, are not adults. They often can’t articulate what an adult can. Or aren’t given the chance. Well, I’m an adult and now I see for myself – and in myself – what these kids are going through first hand. As I search to find ways of getting back on track I am also searching for ways of educating educators that certain, not all, kids need a different approach when it comes to getting the best for them and from them and not just writing them off. I believe – no, I know – there is hope for these kids and I will make it my business to fight their corner, metaphorically speaking of course.

Just need to put all my thoughts together…which brings me back to the cognitive problems! I’m with you on this kids.

Life is good (if sometimes a little different but in big ways)


Mike x