In May of 1980 I was admitted to Timberlawn with reactive depression following the divorce of my parents and abuse occurring in my home. I was never a problem child, but I had difficulty adjusting to these changes. At Timberlawn I was subjected to horrific "behavioral" treatments by my doctors, Looney (no kidding) and Estabrook. The doctors felt I would require a minimum of two years of treatment to get better, ( no issue with my father's 100% coverage health insurance) I was not allowed outdoors, and restraints were commonly used as punishment for minor infractions or for daring to say you were depressed. Every night of my stay there I was restrained to the bed regardless of my relative freedom during the day where I was often serving time "on indefinite chair" for some minor offense like falling asleep during group due to the heavy doses of drugs I was forced to take. Sometimes I was in wheelchair restraints. The worst episode began in late November of 1980 when I began what was to be a two and a half month stint in five point bed restraints and insulin sheet. "Chucks" were placed under me to soak up my urine, feces and menstrual blood in lieu of the standard bedpan which would have required potentially manipulative communication with the staff. .These were rarely replaced causing festering bedsores up and down my back and buttocks and a stench that was overwhelming. I was never bathed. A posey strip attached to each wrist restraint and tied together further restricted movement of my arms.
Since I was on a deprivation program no one was allowed to communicate with me including staff so except for my bi-weekly "visits" with the doctor (and later staff who were opposed to my care) I was completely isolated My contact was restricted to the sounds I could hear from my bed in the room.They often failed to feed me and at times I was left alone when both the patients and staff left the ward. My days were spent looking at the ceiling,sweating, and crying out in pain from muscle cramps since my limbs were never rotated or exercised. I remember begging them to quit hurting me. The pain was excruciating and to this day I do not know how I managed to tolerate it and not go completely insane. The doctors told my parents I was psychotic (in weekly letters) and no visits or phone calls were allowed to prove them wrong.
After some time even the patients and staff could no longer be convinced that the treatment was appropriate. A night staff member used to loosen my restraints only for them to be re-tightened by the morning shift nurse,and even though not allowed to speak to anyone I was accused of continuing to manipulate staff as a result of acts of defiance by the staff. Those staff were removed from my care or required to see me with witnesses present.I still have light ringed scars around my ankles from the restraints pulled very tightly to the end of the bed..
I was losing all hope and beginning to think I might die laying in that bed, but I finally got smart and signed out involuntarily which forced them to transfer me from the facility. Much pressure was brought to bear for me to sign back in. but I held out and the new hospital released me a few months later back to the parents who were abusing me. I did not care.Before I entered Timberlawn I was an athlete, running the mile and half mile in track. By the time I was released I could no longer walk unassisted due to muscle atrophy. Before I entered this facility I had problems in my life, abuse at home ,and some quite normal travails of adolescence. To this day I have severe PTSD, horrible nightmares and lingering health issues. I have a life now, but it is no thanks to my "treatment" at Timberlawn. I would like to talk to other survivors, especially those who were there as teens.
- The original testimony (The Fornits Home for Wayward Webfora)
- Dallas mental hospital to close before state shuts it down (CBS 7)