Marian @ Krysan


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



A Grandmother's 

Heartwarming Tale of Connectedness



I wonder ...


1.  Time to change?

For me, the nature of mental illness is such that, when it strikes, I am rendered silent and vulnerable. I hear angry, abusive voices that others do not hear and I am sorely afraid. Fear shows in my eyes and even affects my vocal chords. The world goes flat, cold, and colourless. I retreat inside myself - the only safe place to be.

2.  It all started a quarter of a century ago.

In 1989, I was 47 years of age, a wife and mother who combined her family life with a successful teaching career. I worked hard and played hard. Then one day, BANG! As suddenly as that I stopped dead in my tracks, unable to put one foot in front of the other and unable to speak.

Three years on, my will subsumed by psychiatry's chemical cosh, the voices began their earnest and seemingly unstoppable campaign to drive me insane. Over the next nine years they very nearly succeeded. Indeed, by early 2001, you wouldn't have given tuppence for my chances.

Fear (and voices) had overtaken my life. Now, as well as not being able to speak, I could not sleep, or eat. My weight plummeted to five stone. A silent, broken woman. To all intents and purposes, I was finished. Not long for this world.  

  • No tears.  
  • No respite.  
  • No hope. 

Imagine that. And, then a miracle occurred.

Well, that's what it seemed like to me.

3.  A miracle.

My granddaughter celebrated her third birthday in April, 2001. My son paid his usual weekly courtesy call with his reluctant small daughter in tow. My house was definitely not this child's favourite place. Her home was noisy - always full of people, full of life, full of colour, and full of fun. Mine is a quiet house, surrounded by tall, old trees and high, even older walls.

My house must have seemed more than a little strange, even frightening to this young visitor.  On this occasion, she indicated that she wanted to speak with me. She led the way to the door with me trailing along behind - a sad, wraith-like figure. Suddenly, this speck of humanity stopped, barred my way with outstretched arm, and spoke the six words that saved my life:

4.  The password is I love you. 

A game to her?

Maybe, but this was the turning point for me. Thanks to one small girl who - of her own volition - offered a hand, I had my epiphany moment. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. It was golden, the colour of love. After 12 nightmare years, I picked myself up, dusted myself down, and got on with my life - this to everyone's amazement.

Within the year, I was well enough to have become a regular at the Patients' Circle at a nearby NHS mental health hospital and had even started on the first of a long stream of Open University courses. This was to become occupational therapy - with style.

My style.

I was by now nearly 60 and, taking one tentative step at a time, on my way again. Within a few months, I was made the editor of the hospital's wellbeing magazine and, thanks to my husband, acquired my very own home-office with computer, scanner, printer, telephone and other office sundries! My granddaughter became a regular and now willing visitor - God's little helper in person. Over time, she helped transform my house into the home it had always secretly been.

5.  Nothing to fear, but fear itself.

For years, we played endless games of hide and seek, invented imaginary friends, ran races in the garden, climbed trees, ate ice cream, fed the hens, collected eggs, dug up potatoes, ate peas from the pod, painted faces, and drew pictures. Despite the generation gap, my granddaughter grew into my best friend and I became happy again. My decision.

It was time to change.

Would that my father, mother and sister had lived to see the return of carefree days. Sadly, that could not be. But, what remained of my long-suffering family would, at long last, breathe easily again. Small consolation. Caring is not an easy call.  As for my intrusive voices, they simply murmured quietly away as it dawned on me (and them) that there is, indeed, nothing to fear but fear itself.

Here's something else I've learned:

6.  Laughter is the best medicine.

Without a doubt, self-care must include a healthy dose of humour. If you’re not laughing every day, it’s surely time to start. Laughter creates powerful chemicals in the brain that act quickly to reduce stress and tension and lower blood pressure. Do not take yourself or your personal story too seriously - that's official.

Now think on this. Lightening up your attitude will open new channels and new possibilities for change. Moreover, it will immediately raise the energy in your home and life and make you feel more alive. The more joy you feel, the more you will radiate lightness and attract lighter people. Charlie Chaplin himself told us that laughter is the best medicine.  That was his legacy to the universe, and this is mine: a message every parent (and grandparent) should read, because children are watching us and learning to do as we do, not as we say.

7.  When you thought I wasn't looking. 

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator,
and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned
that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make my favourite cake for me
and I learned that the little things
can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I heard you say a prayer,
and I knew there is a God I could always talk to
and I learned to trust in God.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick,
and I learned that we all have to help
take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you give of your time
and money to help people who had nothing
and I learned that those who have something
should give to those who don't.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw you take care of our house
and everyone in it and I learned
we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw how you handled your responsibilities,
even when you didn't feel good
and I learned that I would have to be
responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw tears come from your eyes
and I learned that sometimes things
hurt, but it's alright to cry.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I saw that you cared and I wanted to be
everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I learned most of life's lessons
that I need to know to be a good and
productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn't looking,
I looked at you and wanted to say,
"Thanks for all the things I saw when
you thought I wasn't looking." 

8.  Little eyes see a lot!

Thank you for joining me.  And, always remember when you are left wondering (as you surely will), the truly heartwarming tale of the little girl who said, 'the password is I love you ...'

  • Peace is every step.
  • The shining red sun is my heart.
  • Each flower smiles with me.
  • How green, how fresh all that grows.
  • How cool the wind blows.
  • Peace is every step.
  • It turns the endless path to joy.
  • Marian @ Krysan
  • NE Storyteller
  • July 2013




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