Kathleen Megan’s story from 2003, while DIVIDED MINDS was being written.
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.
Features me and a poem…as well as a discussion of mental health “care” with DMH commissioner, Mourning Fox
I cannot find the email or the name of the person who mailed me wanting a print of this piece, but I wanted to inform her that art prints and other posters etc are now available at this link at Redbubble.com. Also posted at Zazzle.com.