July 03, 2006

DC Trip and NAMI National

We just got back from the national NAMI Convention in Washington DC (where had a booth, and I didn't know it till it was too late, and I couldn't find out who was there...alas). We took the high speed Amtrak train there and were treated to the banquet and given the 2006 Literature Award. Actually, it became too much for me and in truth I didn't make it through the cocktails cum reception hour, much less the banquet. But Lynnie came and got me when the awards were starting and I went to that part of the evening (fifteen minutes of it at any rate). The following is my "acceptance" speech, such as it was:

You know how people sometimes ask whom you most admire in the world and you’re suddenly at a loss and have to pause to ponder the list of usual suspects? Mother Theresa...Nelson Mandela.... The problem’s familiar. We’ve all been faced with it.

Well, I’ve stopped looking so far afield. I’ve come to realize that the person I really think the most of is much closer to home, so close in fact that I know her intimately; she even has the same rare blood type and DNA.

Who is my hero?

She is my younger-by-five-minutes but oh so large in my esteem twin sister, known to the world as Dr Carolyn Spiro, but to me forever as Lynnie.

One of the more surprising discoveries I made as we wrote our book, [Divided Minds: Twin sisters and their Journey through Schizophrenia; St Martins Press, 2005] was learning how much thought and preparation Lynnie puts into each therapeutic hour. I had never until then understood how much real work it takes for a good shrink to do therapy, nor what a brilliant, amazingly insightful psychiatrist Lynnie truly is, compassionate to a fault.

This is by all reports. But I know so too, personally, because that’s how she’s been to me as a sister. I owe her – but what does one owe a person in terms of something that could one day be repaid – when she gives you hope, time after time, the hope that keeps you going when you yourself are empty and running on fumes? Who teaches you techniques to deal with the hard times, so you learn to cope instead of just flail? And who keeps you alive by dint of her hope and faith when your own well runs completely dry.
I’m doing my best tonight and I want to say this here in front of all of you because you’ll know how much it means:

Thank you, Lynnie, thank you – for the hope, and the faith, and the love with which you carried me through years of darkness, putting up with my tirades and paranoia, my depression and psychosis until I could stand again in the sunlight, no longer needing to be carried. I am grateful beyond words. Thank you for being my twin.



Posted by pamwagg at July 3, 2006 09:11 PM


Dear Pam,

I am moved to tears by the words you've written about your sister. What a wonderful connection you must have with her.

I pray every day that a psychiatrist like your sister will enter my daughter's life.

My daughter Cassie is still in the hospital. Last week I talked with her hospital psychiatrist. For the first time since Cassie has been diagnosed I really felt that this doctor really cared about the people she treats. She showed compassion and patience. I was so grateful to her for not patronizing me and my concerns.

You and your sister are so fortunate to have each other.


Posted by: Yaya at July 4, 2006 09:20 AM

Pam darling,
Your speech was so very REAL and TOUCHING, I could actually feel the silence in the audience as they listened and learned what an exceptionally admirable physician and twin Carolyn Standish Spiro, M.D.truly is. I could also see, oh, so clearly, the tears that streamed down your Lynnie's face as she listened to your words. They were words she needed to hear. The audience too deserved to know the superior abilities that Lynnie possesses, a superiority that is equal but different from your own. You shine on and on, my friend, so dear and sweet.Together,both you and Lynnie are a light that cannot be dimmed.
With profound love and admiration,T3

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at July 3, 2006 11:47 PM

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