Sunday, April 15, 2018

A stay at Timberlawn in the 1970's

This story was originally written on the message board called the Fornits Home for Wayward Webfora. All rights and credits goes to the unnamed author

I was on the adolescent girls unit at Timberlawn for 2 years in the late 70's. Been thinking some lately about how I gloss over my past when people talk about attending high school reunions and such--I never talk about it. Anyway, googling Timberlawn survivor led me here.

I was put into Timberlawn for having severe social anxiety disorder which led me to a "school phobia". I was an innocent and naive honor student when I went in, but after 2 years in that place I came out a jaded wild thing who couldn't wait to quit school and try drugs, sex and rock-n-roll (which I did). Even as teens we patients knew full well that for most of us, we would never be pronounced "cured" until our parent's insurance money ran out. I was never put in full restraints (although I saw it happen to many others), but several times I was on "split risk" which meant I had to travel around the campus in a wheelchair with a waist restraint (I ran away 4 times until I was finally discharged AMA), and I also often experienced "chair", "chair in the hall", "chair in the room", and "talking restriction" from specific fellow patients or from everyone. Back in the 70's they didn't use the friendlier term "room therapy" or "chair therapy" it was clearly called a "restriction".

Oh the memories. I spent my late teens and 20's very bitter, my 30's trying to move on, and now in my mid-40's I've finally reached a sort of uneasy peace with this part of my life. I have to go now but have another story about what happened 10 years ago when I tried to go up there and look over my medical records (I wanted to read my "nurses notes"--a journal type thing we were forced to keep). If anyone's interested I'll share that later. Talk about adding insult to injury.

Sometime around the year 2000 I decided I wanted to view my records from Timberlawn in an effort to find closure, put it behind me (this was 20+ years after discharge). On the Adolescent Unit, we were forced to keep a journal of sorts. They were held in a manila folder that was kept in the Nurses Station. The form we had to write on was lined and had a title at the top called "Nurses Notes". We were allowed to draw on/decorate the manila folder--one kind of pathetic thing I remember was that most every folder had little "john + mary =love4ever" stuff like teenagers write on things. After all we were teens locked up for years at the height of hormonal rage so there were always little romances going on with the boys on the other side of the unit...also some gay romances as well, of course. Since physical contact was extremely was very frustrating. Anyway...I digress. So each evening we had to get our Nurses Notes folder from the nurses station and write something about our day. We could write anything we wanted (such as "Timberlawn Sucks!"), but the nurses, aides, Docs all looked them over so we eventually learned not to write anything that could be used against us. If we did NOT write in our Nurses Notes we got punished with some time on chair (maybe an hour or so).

20 plus years later the grownup me wanted to read these to connect with the teen me of then--know what I mean?

I made several calls to Timberlawn and was told this was possible, but I needed to hurry as they would soon be destroying the records from my era. I had to make an appointment for a certain day, bring my ID. My car was old and high-mileage, so I spent $75.00 to rent a car and hightailed it to Dallas (I live elsewhere in Texas now). I was so excited and creeped out at the same time! I got there, went into the Whitehouse (shudder), showed my ID, and was taken to some big officey/warehousey kind of room. I was seated at a table, the office worker came toward me with a pile of records, set it in front of me, and IT WASN'T MINE! The first name started with the same letter, the last name was the same, but these were records for an older woman who was there at a different time than I was. I pointed this out & demanded MY records. There were phone calls made, hushed conversations held across the room with sidelong glances at me. Eventually I was told that MY records had been destroyed THE DAY BEFORE! I felt so screwed over and wounded by Timberlawn...again! After I got home I called up there and demanded I at least be re-imbursed for the car rental. After several calls were never returned I wrote a lengthy letter to the Doctor in Charge/Medical director whatever. I eventually recieved a check for $75.00 along with a terse note from this Doc that said "while I do not feel Timberlawn can be held responsible for your lack of adequate transportation"...blah blah. What a jerk!


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Gail S. at Elevations RTC

This testimony was found on Yelp. All rights goes to the author known as Gail S.

Elevations RTC is an impersonal, unprofessional, and substandard institution.

Kindness is the exception there, not the norm. In general, they keep students there for way too long, charge a fortune, and provide very poor therapeutic services and even worse customer service to parents. Their medical staff do not communicate effectively or often. Our therapist provided minimal to no insight and did not win affection or trust from my child who complained that he was often too busy for her and not really present or skilled.

They are generally very slow to respond or follow up on anything and get defensive when you raise issues of concern or frustration, even at the highest administrative levels. Supposedly they have cleaned up their act regarding use of strong physical restraints/intervention when children act out, but this is not what my child reported back to me. Physical restraints are used frequently to address children's defiance. They did not leave the impression that they were truly interested in the advancement of children's mental health. It is clearly a lucrative business for them, more than anything else.

There are much better, more compassionate, and sophisticated options in the world of residential treatment centers. Keep looking. Good luck!


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Elizabeth at TimberLawn

This story was originally written on the message board called the Fornits Home for Wayward Webfora. All rights and credits goes to the author known as Elizabeth

Hi! Im Elizabeth! I was in Timberlawn in 1983, I was 15, the girls adolescent ward.

I had come out of Baylors Adolescent ward before I came to Timberlawn, Baylor was so strict and rigid that I had tried to commit suicide but really didnt want to kill myself, just thought that they did send me to another institution if I caused enough trouble, anyways I tried it 3 different times, and Baylor kept me tied down to a bed in restraints for 6 months. They had me so drugged up with Thorazine that by the time I got to Timberlawn, they put me on a couch in the big lounge and layed me down and told me I wasnt gonna do anything but sleep and eat for the enxt week. I had to sleep off all the drugs I had in me from Baylor.

I had alot of the same experiences at Timberlawn as well strict and ahrd yea well, but I was so terrified of being put into restraints by that time that I was almost perfect by the time I got to Timberlawn. So I didnt get into much trouble at Timberlawn, and I was one of the lucky ones who got grounds privileges early and was able to go to PE and we walked 2 miles a day everyday and went to the Canteen on Saturday the little store they had for us. We also had patio parties and dances with the guys alot. It was very strict and hard even with the parties and all that, and I have to say that alot for people didnt have the privileges of going to dances and parties.

One person was my roommate, K. She and I were real close. She was only 13 and had run away from home with her boyfriend and her parents threw her in to Timberlawn and she was scared. I was scared too and we took care of each other and showed at group meetings and stuff and sat with each other at meals times and other places alot. I suspected then that some were saying we were gay and whats interesting is that they started demonizing her to me. She was 5 feet one inch and 95 lbs and looked like a little girl and its like guys liked her naturally you know which was no big deal but they made a big deal out of it constantly accusing her of being sexually permiscous all the time and they were always putting her on guy retriction and tried to convince me that she would take my boyfriends away from me and what not. I had a boyfriend and a guyfriend and at parties I was so scarwed shed get into trouble with guys that she and I hung out together with my BF, so we did all hang out together, and I just know they were making it into something nasty that it wasn't.

The whole thing with them being paranoid about Gays and Homosexuals, I really think they were paranoid about me and my room mate because they kept demonizing her to me.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Timberlawn 1980 testimony

January 2018 it was announced that Timberlawn in Texas would close down as result of pressure from the authorities who were concerned about the safety of the patients. Universal Health Services Inc who runs hospitals for profit decided that a closure was better compared with the options of being forced to shut down or improving the standard as the last option was too costly if you still want to make profit. Here is a testimony from one of the former patients.

This story was originally written on the message board called the Fornits Home for Wayward Webfora. All rights and credits goes to the author known as KaTee:

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.