Marian @ Krysan


Planting Golden Seeds in Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, and Durham



"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant."

— Robert Louis Stevenson



Marian @ Krysan


In case you haven't noticed, I run an emotional wellbeing consultancy and have been in business since September 2008 - getting on for five years now.  My staunchest supporters are my husband and our much travelled dog.  

And, then there was you ...

As a way of saying thank you, I share with you today the essence of a talk I gave to a gathering of public health trainees studying at Durham University, this on 30 March 2009.  The talk was called 'A Sense of Place' because I and most of my audience hailed from the Land of the Prince Bishops - Durham.

It all started with this poem.  It's not just any old poem as you will quickly discover as indeed did my audience of young professionals.  So, ACT I goes like this and is guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye:


I'm Painting Now the Picture

  • When my hair is thin and silvered,
  • And my time of toil is through,
  • When I’ve many years behind me,
  • And ahead of me a few;
  • I shall want to sit, I reckon,
  • Sort of dreaming in the sun,
  • And recall the roads I’ve travelled,
  • And the many things I’ve done.
  • I hope there’ll be no picture
  • That I’ll hate to look upon,
  • When the time to paint it better
  • Or to wipe it out is gone.
  • I hope there’ll be no vision
  • Of a hasty word I’ve said,
  • That has left a trail of sorrow,
  • Like a whip welt sore and red.
  • And I hope my old age dreaming
  • Will bring back no bitter scene,
  • Of a time when I was selfish
  • Or a time when I was mean.
  • When I’m getting old and feeble,
  • And I’m far along life’s way,
  • I don’t want to sit regretting,
  • Any bygone yesterday.
  • I am painting now the picture
  • That I’ll want someday to see;
  • I am filling in a canvas
  • That will soon come back to me.
  • Though nothing great is on it,
  • And though nothing there is fine,
  • I shall want to look it over
  • When I’m old, and call it mine.
  • So I do not dare to leave it
  • While the paint is warm and wet,
  • With a single thing upon it
  • That I later will regret.

Medicine for the soul — indeed.  

I don't recall who wrote the poem, but rather suspect that it travelled to the North East from across the pond via the Internet.  What follows now in ACT II is decidedly British and was my very first contribution to a Sunderland hospital's wellbeing magazine in late 2001:


Twelve Awful, Awful Years

When I lost my sense of humour, I lost my perspective on life.  Out went . . . my job, my friends, my family, the books, the typewriter, the clothes.  In came . . . what my father before me had described as his ‘black dog’.  Yes . . . I was told ‘it’ runs in the family.  God, help me!  Had I inherited an incurable disease?  More terrifying even than that - had I passed ‘it’ onto my children?

Well - what is ‘it’?  For me ‘it’ was a total denial that my life was important.  Indeed, that anyone else’s life was important.  For three years, I put my head down.  I simply stayed in bed.  I changed my personality from extravert, fun loving worker, wife, mother, daughter, and friend to introvert.  I became morbid and pre-occupied with my ‘sins’.

No matter how hard I tried, my father’s ‘black dog’ would not budge.  My husband and children fed, watered and clothed me.  They spoke for me - I was far beyond speech and - in my view at least - far beyond help.  The fear, which I felt, was indescribable.  So . . . I will not even try . . .

They (my doctors and my family and my friends) they tried.  But, in vain.  Was I going to spend the rest of my life like this?  As year followed dreary year, it certainly looked like it.  Christmas’s came and went.  I - once so curious, creative and confident - became desperate.  As, indeed, did those closest to me.  Do you recognise yourself?  Do you recognise your family?

It must suffice to say that this state of affairs lasted for twelve, awful, awful years. During that time my children left home, the dog died, the millennium came and went.  Fortunately . . . there was Someone who always stood beside me.  When all else failed - the counselling, the medication, the friendships - He carried me. 

Who is ‘He’?  I leave you to answer that. 

What I will say is that my three-year old grand daughter reminded me of the ‘password’.  It is, quite simply - I love you.  The illness is not incurable; no, I have not passed ‘it’ on. My sense of humour has returned.  I can now watch the television, read a book, make a meal, speak (and write) kindly words again.    I am nearly there - will you join me?      

Someone else did . . .

Time marches on and it's now more than a decade since the above short piece of 'word poetry' was penned. my granddaughter and I have travelled far along life's path in the intervening years.  That aside, the following is ACT III and how I ended my talk to the Public Health Trainees in Durham in 2009:


A Human Response to the Human Experience  

Now, most of my free time is spent reading.  I’m on a new and utterly delightful spiritual quest.  I am also studying with the Open University again, having over recent years developed a great interest in something called ‘positive psychology’. 

For seven years (until August 2008) I worked as a volunteer at Cherry Knowle Hospital in Sunderland where I edited a monthly magazine called Reality News.  I loved every single moment I spent with Ann, Dave, George, Joe and Paul, all of them mental health service users like myself. We did ‘a good job’ and I left my friends and the hospital with no regrets and in response to an intuitive feeling that there was another world waiting to be discovered. The past few months have, indeed, been amongst the most satisfying of my entire life. As well as starting up the business, I have created and designed a website and launched a new magazine, Reality. I also give talks and lectures all over the country.  Once again, I love myself. 

I am a different person.  It couldn’t be otherwise.  I know, and take comfort from the fact that many people all over the world and from many different cultures experience voice hearing.  Sometimes the voices are extremely frightening and powerful … but often they are reported as being quite benign and even ‘helpful’.  According to experts in the field, such as the internationally acclaimed Professor Marius Romme, many voice hearers simply accommodate their voices naturally into their lives and never go near a psychiatrist or a hospital, suffering no apparent harm to themselves — or anyone else for that matter.  Why, then, the secrecy, the ignorance and the stigma?  Why do we never talk about our mental health?  I know one thing for sure — there can be no health without mental health! 

To conclude, although I still work hard by any standards, I am careful not to overwork and make time for leisure and pleasure. I still occasionally hear voices and glimpse the unknown.  I can’t say I will never have another episode of despairing anguish ever again.  But, looking back,I believe that my psychic distress was caused … by extreme trauma and total powerlessness. I would add, however, that the so-called ‘psychotic episodes’, which so consumed my life for so many years, were to prove to be the making of it.  To my mind, schizophrenia (a debatable diagnosis) is simply – or maybe not so simply — a human response to ‘the human experience’.

In the 1980s and 90s, times were pretty tough for my family — something of an understatement.  My mother always said by way of comfort when spirits were low that 'a new baby brings its own love'.   This was certainly so at the close of the millennium when, on 22nd April 1998, a baby girl was born.  

  • I touch the ground of being.  
  • I see clearly for the first time.


Love Heals

My mother's prediction came true.  

Today I am as much entangled with my granddaughter as ever I was with the members of my family who went before.  I believe these loved ones left in their wake a glorious garden here on earth, this for my granddaughter (and me and you) to plant with golden seeds.

To my mother, father and sister, I say: thank you — love heals.  To my granddaughter I say: my dear child, you are medicine for the soul.  I know you will use your exceptional gifts and your good humour for the betterment of humankind, and this throughout your life.

  • Follow your passion.  
  • I did.


by Jack Prelutsky

  • I am growing a glorious garden 
  • resplendent with trumpets and flutes. 
  • I am pruning euphonium bushes. 
  • I am watering piccolo shoots. 
  • My tubas and tambourines flourish, 
  • surrounded by saxaphone reeds. 
  • I am planting trombones and pianos, 
  • and sowing sweet sousaphone seeds.
  • I have cymbals galore in my garden, 
  • staid oboes in orderly rows. 
  • There are flowering fifes and violas 
  • in the glade where the glockenspiel grows
  • There are gongs and guitars in abundance. 
  • There are violins high on the vine, 
  • and an arbor of harps by the bower 
  • where the cellos and clarinets twine.
  • My bassoons are beginning to blossom 
  • as my zithers and mandolins bloom. 
  • My castanets happily chatter. 
  • my kettle drums merrily bloom. 
  • The banjos that branch by the bugles 
  • play counterpoint with a kazoo. 
  • Come visit my glorious garden 
  • and hear it play music for you. 

I ask that none of us judge each day by the harvest we reap, but rather by the seeds that we plant. Here's an Einstein quote to help things along: "Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." — Albert Einstein

  • Leap into love.  
  • I did.

Marian @ Krysan


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