Carolyn and Pamela, after she put on 60lbs on Zyprexa (olanzapine)
“The thing about twins is they invite comparison. Even though they may look identical, one usually has the edge — a little more confidence, a quicker smile, perhaps a bit more talent.
As babies and little girls, Pam Wagner and Carolyn Spiro were like that. They danced and acted and held promise that delighted their parents. They loved it when people mixed them up. They were a tight club of two.
And then in adolescence, Pam, the one with the edge, lost touch with her own mind. Life became confusing and the twins’s lives took separate paths, diverging and then intersecting repeatedly, as they once again do now. Pam is a poet and Carolyn a psychiatrist. In midlife, they’ve come together to write a book, to try to capture their story for the benefit of others, and also for themselves.
Their story is a tale of the inseparable bond of sisters, of twins, and their struggle when their lives became anything but identical.
• • •
When you enter Pam’s apartment you can’t escape the photo test: two adorable baby girls, ribbons in downy hair, one gazing intently, the other head-tilted, tentative. Both bright-eyed, identical. Which is which? Which is Pammy and which is her twin, Lynnie?
You can’t tell. Is that thoughtful tilt a Lynnie trait? The more focused expression Pammy’s? Impossible to say, so you guess and you guess wrong.
And you wonder, was the die already cast at so young an age? Were they already – though indistinguishable on the outside – so very divergent on the inside? The seed of illness, perhaps, already planted; the roles of caretaker and cared-for so early ordained. You try to reconcile these photos – these identical babies and later, mirror-image school girls – with all you see a half-century later.
So very different are they now. How do they live with this, the undoing of their twinhood? And, how has their family, so accomplished and talented, coped with the slap of fate? That one became psychotic, the other a psychiatrist. Pam catches you staring at the beguiling babies. “You know,” she says, “I was well once.”’
click on link above to find rest of story, written after a years long series of interviews, both at home and in hospitals.
In the midst of re-experiencing trauma, sometimes all you can do is scream, even if it is silently and only in paint…I hope this speaks to some of you who may feel as I do, often or even just once in a while. It took a lot to get this out, but I felt I did convey what I felt.
I am reposting the next one, a very painful if a not very skilled drawing, because I made some changes. I put a very mean smirk on the face of the woman in the front, who is meant to be facing us and pointing over her shoulder, though it was hard to get this in, given how little space I’d left myself… Also, I wanted to change the face of the man kneeling on me, and strength the look of the grip of the hands on me. If you compare the old version to this one, you will also note that I am purely naked here where as in the other, I have underpants on. This is the accurate one, but I didn’t understand that at the time I started the drawing. Alas, or perhaps this is good, I am rapidly recalling things I had not for two years about my experience at Middlesex. At least I remember stuff that happened BEFORE April 28th. For the other two restraints incidents, I still have no recall whatsoever or what I suspect is mostly confabulation drawn from what I read in my chart, though of course I cannot be certain. In any event, what I am remembering is not good at all, and I cry a lot…it is very difficult, and I feel so very very alone, because NO ONE understands and can talk to me, or more to the point can even stand to listen to me talk or cry about it. But it is difficult even to keep it under wraps all the time. If you have survived trauma, I think you know how it is. And that is why I avoid people when I think I cannot be “good enough company.” I don’t want to bring my friends down, but I cannot control the tears and shakes when they start…But the picture forthwith. Although it is disturbing as is, be aware that in the real incident, there was a great deal more violence, and more guards and staff members involved…these are just a paltry few. I simply didn’t know how to draw a crowd or a crowded room yet!
This next picture I did as an attempt to express the guilt and shame I feel over having been traumatized at all. But I do not think I succeeded at all. Why? Because it became too intellectualized, with symbols like the Scarlet A and the guilt-crucifix, and even the hands wringing in shame, rather than pure expression…I want to do it over again if I get inspired to do so.
The next three drawings were just “fun” or for practice ones. The first two are presents for Tim, simply because he likes cars and is so wonderful to me. The third was an exercise in drawing two people together, and was copied from an “old master”, the name of whom I simply cannot recall at the moment. It might have been — nope I don’t dare guess! I would have to get up and search for the book, and I ain’t gonna do that at the moment — too danged lazy. Anyhow, here are 1) two 1973 Volvo Sportswagon ES 1800 2) jaguar XJS and 3) the sketch taken from the old master’s painting.
1973 Volvo ES 1800 with British Racing Green “colour” in the background to represent the color of Tim’s car.
I sketched this detail from an old master’s painting found in an art book. Wanted to capture the two women together, and the angle of their heads (I actually didn’t do a very good job but there you are!)
NOTE: As I wrote this, “dream” talk, that is to say, nonsensical writings seemed to keep appearing in the middle of what I wrote. I seemed to find myself in another world every few minutes. I would write about that world, then “come to” and start writing about the subject below again as if nothing had happened. But when I reread the paragraph it made no earthly sense whatsoever, being an amalgam of two entirely different trains of thought. So a caveat: if some of what follows devolves into gibberish at any time, forgive me, and be patient. You can email me to alert me, if you wish, that would help. But otherwise, know that I will eventually come back more able to proofread and catch such idiocies…and fix them. For now though, you are on your own. (The reason for these brain blips, I think, may be, but may not, the fact that I took a very small amount of Zyprexa today in order to be able to read and concentrate. 2.5 mg 2X a week should not make me gain weight, according to Dr C, But we thought it might do some good, without doing the usual harm. So I agreed to try it out once more, just at the minimal level as a PRN. Well, I find that I am very sleepy, have been ever since I took the pill, except for when I took a walk and for about 1/2 hour afterwards…and I do think that I slip into dreamworld while awake, and literally dream while writing this. Hence the gibberish.
I have put the statement I read to the CEO and various administrators etc of Middlesex hospital on Youtube if anyone is interested in hearing it read outloud. Do a search for “Psychiatric restraints and seclusion abuse” and you should be able to find it if this link doesn’t work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhZybDwMbzA (I realize that I read it without much feeling, but it is hard to do so accurately and also look up at camera, and read without losing my place. Anyhow, it might be worthwhile to check it out.
The newest sorta development in the “case” this week was that a lawyer from the hospital, or someone who told my advocate he was a Middlesex Hospital lawyer, asked Wiley R (who is behind me 100%) “what does Pam want, what can we do to have her drop the complaint or withdraw her complaint to the DOJ and Joint Commission?”
Now everyone I told this to almost to a one, and immediately said this meant, “We are willing to pay handsomely in order to buy a gag order from her” I had trouble digesting such crassness, but to a one, those to whom I related the words of this inquiry told me the lawyer was insinuating something about paying me off. I mean: money. I felt slimed, completely slimed. For a few days this was the sole topic of my conversation, but to make a long story short, after I had decided to ask for several sessions with the hospital psych unit staff, educational sessions with me, to teach them how better to deal with patients, and have them experience forced restraints themselves…and so forth, my brother and I met with WR my advocate from the Protection and Advocacy (for persons with disabilities and mental illness) Office, and he informed us that the lawyer really was offering nothing, not even an official apology. Clearly, if so, then my real desire, to do hands on, face to face work with the staff that had so tortured me, was going to be out of the question, utterly forbidden. So we just decided in practically the same words, to let them “swing” in the wind.
In point of fact, when WR said that the DOJ might bring them up “on charges” if it was warranted, I asked him why I didn’t do that myself. He looked at me, and then narrowed his vision looking at a point beyond me. “Hmm, let me ask around and I’ll see what we can do.” I hastened to assure him that it wasn’t malpractice I was after. I knew that I had no real case, even if the statute of limitations hadn’t just run out a week or a few weeks ago. After all, what lawyer is going to take me on one a contingency basis, and what jury would find for me in any event, seeing as how I did not die in their “care” nor suffer “grievous BODILY injury” which of course is all that counts…as usual. I am not sure what sort of case I would have in any sense of the word now at all…But as I told him, that is in his hands, and certainly is his bailiwick (and if not his than that of my lawyer-friend, Sharon Pope’s. If there are other “cases” to be made of any sort, I am more than game, I am ready and on alert to go and do whatever is needed in the pursuit of justice and reform of the Middlesex Hospital psychiatric system. It was really shameful, and despite the Public Health Department’s so called investigation, it was such a shameful joke, that despite WR’s impassioned plea to investigate MY case, and the psych unit in particular, they did no such thing. All they did was go back to spring 2011 (ie looked at the records of the entire hospital, or one of two representative records from most of the units, except for Psych so far as I could determine…) and do a random case study to look for general evidence of irregularities. Sure, they found some, and one case even involved the ER use of unnecessary or at least excessive use of restraints in a dually diagnosed young man…
But NOTHING was even looked at that had anything to do with what they did to me, or even the psych unit in particular. NOTHING was specific to my complaint, so I don’t know how they expected this evaluation to give them any sort of reasonable results. They may or may not have censured or sanctioned the hospital. I did not read the entire huge file of support the bill got over the years. But I got the drift and the worst punishment meted out for repeated violations seemed to me to be a whipping on the wrist with a flimp ramen. Period.
Yet I was punished by the psych unit staff time and time again.
I know, I know! I was loud, I was angry, I was impossible to “handle” — I know this. Partly this was par for the course for a Lyme disease flare up for me. But I think Lyme wasn’t all of it. Why else was I so irascible (aside from them giving me Abilify without the requisite Geodon…) if not in response to perceived and real threats from them? I am not generally irritable and snappy at Natchaug, and never was at Hartford Hospital in the 80s and 90s. ONLY at hospitals where the standards of care are coercion and control and abuse is the name of the game do I react with anger and hostility…I wonder why.
More to tell, more to say, but as I wrote in the first paragraph above, sleep is overwhelming my desire to do just about anything. I will try to get back to this asap.
“In India when we meet and part we Often say, ‘Namaste’, which means: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides; I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us." ~~Ram Dass~~