Triggers and Tarzana

vintage sheet music


Once you are traumatized, you are vulnerable to triggers. And triggers are everywhere.

Jane Birkin’s daughter, Kate Barry, jumped from her fourth story window last week. I couldn’t stop thinking about her despair, and how fame and talent don’t protect families from depression or suicide.

Then, on Homeland, they executed the poor hero, making us watch as the life drained out of his face.

When I’m triggered enough, my mind reverts to familiar paths that lead nowhere. Often, it settles on Tarzana Treatment Center, a lucrative rehab business whose $45 million budget is largely funded via contracts with Los Angeles County.

I took my son to TTC when he relapsed during a period of hard-earned sobriety. They made a big fuss about payment and made a copy of my credit card. They refused to let the family inside the building. After a few days, I started receiving calls from a guy named Del, in the financial department. He said they needed more money, even though they were a Blue Cross provider and had accepted our son’s insurance.

Del’s harassing phone-calls brought me to tears but he persisted. He threatened to kick Max out instead of keeping him for the agreed 30 days. I came up with $1,000 and then another $1,100. Del kept calling and demanding money. He said the rehab cost $500 a day. Meanwhile, Max called me, sounding panicky; he shared his room with a bunch of convicts who played cards all night, depriving him of sleep. He was cold but I wan’t allowed to bring him a blanket.

After around 12 days, a woman called me and said she was a therapist at TTC. She told me that my son was being discharged for lack of sufficient funds, but that she had convinced them to let him stay until morning.

In the morning, Max’s dad picked him up from TTC. He was still in withdrawal from klonopin. At dawn the next morning, he jumped off a cliff.

So I think about Del. I sometimes call his extension at TTC but I always get his recorded message. A couple of days ago, I called and he answered.

I told him who I was, and told him what happened after he kicked out my son. He stammered that he was sorry for my loss but quickly regrouped. He denied calling me to demand money and I laughed maniacally. WHAT?!, I said, Are you serious? You called me a million times! You made me cry!

No, he said firmly, this never happened and couldn’t have happened. They never discharge anyone for lack of money. Never. He has worked there for 18 years and it has never happened. Furthermore, it wasn’t his call. It was someone else’s.

I asked whose call it was and after some arguing, he gave me a fake name with a fake extension number.

Now, if  you are still reading this, you can understand my distress. I’m going to call it distress because rage doesn’t cover it. Why didn’t that cunt just apologize and say it was a terrible unforeseen consequence, one that he regretted?

I don’t want to hear “Just let it go.” I want to hear useful ideas about how to proceed.

This entry was posted in Disorders, grief, Horrible Stuff, love, Rants, revenge and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Triggers and Tarzana

  1. sharnek says:

    I’ve not commented for a while, but I simply must now. If anyone ever tells you to ‘just let it go’ or ‘move on’ or similar then that person is a true arsehole.

    There is no word for a parent who has lost a child, just as rage and distress doesn’t cover how you feel.

    I’m sorry, I have no useful ideas on how to proceed, I wish I did. I hope someone more articulate than me will post something more helpful to you.

    Much love, dear Sister.

  2. D.R. says:

    I wish I could give you a useful idea, but I felt pure rage when I read your post. Our son is 40 now. We sent him from Wichita, Ks. to Parkside Hospital in Chicago nearly 25 yrs ago. He was there for 9 mos., coming home only for Christmas after they determined he had progressed enough. I remember sitting in their financial office and being told that Blue Cross had denied claims. I don’t remember his name, but he told us to go home and not to worry…that he “loved a good fight with an ins. co.” He fought hard and BC ended up paying 78K….we paid 23K. They gave him wonderful tools to work with and I can’t blame them that he still uses. He’s killing himself a day at a time. I wonder how we’ll survive when he’s gone….or if we’ll survive. I’m so sorry for you, Sister.

  3. Krista says:

    Now I wanna call this prick! I really am speechless. I think you did a brave and ballsy thing by calling him out on his bullshit. No matter what comes out of his mouth he now knows what he did. What a cunt is right! I’m so sorry your son is gone, so very sorry.

  4. patni says:

    that is not something you can let go. Just reading it I cant let it go. I would call the news station or something. This murderous behaviour needs to stop. It sounds like there was something really suspect going on too.

  5. Me says:

    Its reprehensible and pure evil. That doesnt even cover a percentage of it.
    These automatons seem detached from the fact that they have the patient’s fragile life in their hands- a human with infinite potential.
    You can’t let it go. You can only channel grief and anger and help someone else. You can only be the person these people are not. And you do. And you are. And you will continue to. It’s not enough and never will be.. But I guess it will have to be.

  6. Richard says:

    Del probably will not apologize because it could be taken as an admission of guilt which could lead to litigation. With that said, I agree with you. Del is a cunt.
    I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t have the words to help you. I hope another person does.

  7. Donna says:

    Do you have any voice mail recordings from TTC or Del? Anything that can prove harassment and denial of treatment due to lack of funds…. I am so sorry for your loss….Addiction and Mental Health establishments have and continue to fail horribly in spite of the millions of dollars they take in….State run facilities are dreadful and those in charge of them should be arrested as criminals…Crimes against Humanity comes to mind…..Again…My heart goes out to you…..

  8. annemarie says:

    I would write a very long letter to the board of directors and tell them that you’ve also sent the letter to your local congress person. I would then prowl the LA Times until I found an investigative journalist who writes about healthcare stuff and I would email them (their emails are right there under their articles!). I would make it my mission to bring those fuckers to justice so that their disgusting corporate ways dont claim another life. These are the same assholes that claim that the reason their services are so expensive is because you get the best, consumer-driven care in the world. LIES! Fight those fuckers. Everything you say is true– you can’t go wrong. Whatever you do, don’t let it go.

  9. sisty says:

    Sue them. A victory is not guaranteed, and you risk more heartache in revisiting, but it’ll be at no cost to you if you can find a good negligence lawyer.

  10. thriftstorelawyer says:

    No. Don’t let it go. These things don’t “go.”

    Channel it into a rigorous search for the truth. Pour over your insurance EOB’s, your bank statements, anything that will show what Tarzana (and what the fuck kind of name is that?) charged you, what your insurance paid and “adjusted,” and what you were nonetheless paying. If they weren’t accepting the “adjusted” amount you were obligated to pay, out them to the insurance company. That will really hit them in the pocketbook, if BCBS dumps them as an “in network” provider.

    Look at your insurance policy to find out how long providers must wait before they can begin charging you for coinsurance. Pull copies (if you have them) of any agreements you had with Tarzana and find out when payments were due. If you don’t have the documents you need from Tarzana, demand them in writing. If they don’t provide them, hire an attorney. Network. Find out if other families have been treated the same way. Your case will look that much more attractive to a good attorney if there is a multiple-plaintiff/class action angle to it. You will be helping those other families if you can bring this to light and get answers.

    Channel, channel, channel. If you don’t express your rage, it will turn inward, and you’ve already hurt enough.

  11. Marky says:

    I think Annemarie’s idea is a good one, a really good one. There have to be more horrific stories like yours. I also don’t think Sisty’s idea is a bad one. You could have their phone records subpoenaed—if you don’t have your records—which will show how many times Del called you.

    By calling Del, you’ve proceeded in the best way possible, I think.

    Too many people just let things go.

    Ugh. I’m sorry about the triggers. I can’t even imagine.

  12. Sister Wolf says:

    THANK YOU so much for your supportive comments and advice!!! You can’t imagine how much this has helped me. I’m on it! I will keep you posted on what happens. xoxoxo

  13. Dana says:

    Tatiana better be scared. I wouldn’t want sister after me!!!

  14. Suspended says:

    Great advice so far. If anyone has the tenacity and strength for pursuit, it is you Sister. Now go and get those bastards!!!


  15. Susan says:

    Sic em Sister Wolf .

  16. It’s so hard to see the beauty in life’s goddamn mysteries Sister.
    I’m glad you are still here and I admire the way you continue to walk through the fire and not around it.
    But fuck Del, of course.

    -formerly Iron Chic

  17. Debbie says:

    I have a friend (ex Mexican Mafia) … you want his number?

  18. Kellie says:

    Hate Del. hate.
    I hate that people do things like this to others, and can still sleep at night.
    And he got paid to be an asshole.
    Make this your thing to do in the New Year. Make him pay for being an asshole, get your money back. Feel like there is possibly justice in the world.
    Even if you have to be the one to make it so.

    Like AbFab. “Things to do today-get up, kick ass”

    Kick some ass, Sister.
    We love you


  19. Lynn says:

    Oh sister, I am so glad you are getting support, encouragement, and good advice from your readers. You have given us so much.

  20. jlynn says:

    On a somewhat superficial note- $500 / day doesn’t cover a private room or a even a fucking blanket? For patients suffering from withdrawal? TTC= greedy, soulless, psychopaths.

    Their staff either didn’t recognize Max was potentially “a danger to himself” (negligent and UNACCEPTABLE), or they knew and didn’t care or feel responsible (reprehensible, and likely actionable)… They obviously didn’t even bother to fake basic human decency, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find proof of actual professional misconduct (if not malpractice).

    BTW If Max had hurt someone else instead of himself, TTC might have faced serious scrutiny, but some victims don’t seem to count- poor, minority, addicts, mentally ill, etc. The terms “addict” or”suicide” are beside the point; the bottom line is that an innocent person died because TTC lets their billing department make life-and-death treatment decisions based on money.

    If you’re up to fighting them SW, you could help a lot of people. Also, once you achieve some sense of justice, your acute distress may fade into a more bearable level of background grief that gives you room to breathe.

    I hope so…

  21. lisamareedom says:

    My sister was let down by the state hospital psychiatric service. They completely mismanaged her care after her Twin had BEGGED them to admit her to a ward. Instead they began sending a counsellor out to her home, who was late to appointments and on one session told Claire “Grow up.” She went and bought a rope at the local hardware store instead.

    When she took her life, my other sisters and her husband had a meeting with the director of the department to discuss what mistakes had been made. It wouldn’t bring Claire back, but it would perhaps save someone else.

    If saving someone else will give you some kind of peace, do it.


  22. Winter Bird says:

    Obviously, Del has no soul and is a deceptive cunt. I would do everything in my power to expose TTC and Del for the evil they unleash on loving, yet afflicted families. I would like to think the universe has a way of providing the proper punishement for the Del’s of the world…perhaps in the form of a very pissed off sister mother or ass cancer.

  23. Tina says:

    Sister Wolf,
    I cannot believe that anyone would have the balls to tell you to move on. I think a lawsuit is a fab idea, but how about also a petition of some sort that explained what happened to Max and how you do not want this to ever happen to anyone else ever–like on With social media nowadays, it’s sure to get some attention.

    BTW–every Del I have known is a major CUNT.

  24. Sandy says:

    Write a book- you are a talented writer. It’s a story people should know.

  25. daisy says:

    I have been in this same nightmare that you write about for about 8 years now. Rehab is a joke. It’s a money making operation first. In my 8 years I’ve not seen one kid come out sober and stay sober for more than a few months. I have seen plenty die though. The way it is set up now is for failure. Until drug addiction is accepted as a true disease of the brain and not a moral issue, there won’t be the changes that desperately need to be made. I could go on a rant for weeks about this. I have so many triggers it is scary. I feel so deeply for you and D.R. above. My God I hate heroin.

  26. Sister Wolf says:

    Daisy – I agree – rehab in its current model is next to worthless. I’ve seem them die, too. They just make new drug connections in rehab. Harm reduction is worth looking into, I think. For some, the all-or-nothing of rehab or 12 steps is not the way.

    I fucking hate it too. If only young people could look into the future and see where it leads, they would never want to ‘experiment’ with dope.

  27. Erika says:

    I agree that you should write a book, it would likely be helpful to others who are grieving.

    The people in that rehab center are beyond horrible, their policies are awful and they are reprehensible. If I didn’t believe in the law of return i would suggest black candles and voodoo dolls. They deserve it !

  28. cat says:

    I have no words of advice for you, SW, just support and love. Anyone who tells you to “just move on” is a heartless cunt.

  29. Robin says:

    Tarzana Treatment Center is a horrible place. They took my son in (after I paid over $5,000 ) knowing he was dual diagnosis with psychosis. After 3 days they kicked him out saying he needed a “higher lever if care” and I did not get any of my money back! They said the $5000 covered his assessment! They gave us no referral and basically kicked him out onto the street. TTC is corrupt and I wish an investigative journalist would look into it!
    So sorry about your son. Get a lawyer and file a lawsuit!

  30. Sister Wolf says:

    Robin – Please write to me at I’m sorry to hear about this and I hope your son is okay. Let’s see what we can do.

  31. helen waite says:

    Is there any chance you could scare up phone bills that show incoming calls from his number?

  32. helen waite says:

    Sorry – I missed that others had asked the same question

  33. Maria says:

    First off, I am so very sorry for your loss. I can’t even begin to imagine what you are going through. That said, this makes no sense what so ever to me. I have never heard of a treatment center making somebody leave for lack of payment–especially if you had blue cross. I was in St. Francis Hospital years ago for an anorexia. There was no exchange of money until after I left. And that was by way of the insurance company. I never had to pay out of pocket but I can not imagine somebody calling and demanding money throughout the treatment. The cost is usually tallied after the treatment not “oh your son needs meds today that he didn’t need yesterday so if you want him to have them then give us $500 more.” This just does not happen. Did you ever consider that this person was harassing you and taking your money for himself–like a little scam he had going?? I hope that by bringing this up I didn’t offend you or make you feel even worse than you do but something just doesn’t sit well with me with this exchange. I agree with Robin. Treatment centers and hospital programs that deal with addiction and depression and mental disease are all flawed–I feel. People who don’t have these issues will never understand what it feels like to be a person who does and to be a parent of somebody who does. I was an anorexic since 7th grade. I went to college and got a degree and in 1990 I realized that I needed help. I knew what I was doing to my body was wrong and was just tired of being sick and tired. I knew deep down that I could do this by myself. The problem I had however was that I was taking 30-60 laxitives a day. I didn’t want to not be in a hospital when I stopped taking them. So I checked myself in with the support of my family. It was a 30 day program. I lasted two weeks. Unbelievably I was ok physically. I struggled to change my way of thinking about myself and food over time. But what made me leave early was the ideas that the doctor’s and nurses had. The whole 12 step program did not work for me. I know this has nothing to do with what your son went through but what I want to get across is that I think the reason these treatment centers are flawed is because you can’t just treat everybody’s mental illness the same. There are too many variables in every single person. I am a scientist and work in a Head and Neck Cancer research lab and this same idea is the reason that I don’t think we will ever find a cure for cancer. But on the bright side, I think that if we can focus on finding certain similarities in individual people we can come up with a better way to live with cancer and mental illness. I am so sorry about the rambling.

  34. mimosa says:

    this is atrocious and horrible in all kinds of ways. But do be wary if you decide to head down the litigation route. I’m in the UK and have no idea how big an org this may be, but if they have money, they may likely throw it plentifully to make life as horrible and difficult for you as possible. I had a big problem with the NHS here several years ago and took on litigation on people’s advice, but in retrospect, the hurt, exasperation and heartache will take the shine off any response I may get. Considering how much trauma you have already been through, perhaps a petition or other ways of bringing this to public attention may be better.

    lots of love to you anyway.

  35. Vanessa Ray says:

    As a recovering addict {heroin was my drug of choice. However, I didn’t wake up one day and decide “You know what. I think I’ll do heroin”. As you are painfully aware, it’s a progression.}, this article moved me to write to you for the first time. I’ve been a reader for awhile. While in the throes of withdrawal, I’ve considered taking my own life. Reading your blog, and what the loss of your son has done, is the only thing, on a few occasions, that has brought me back from the edge. Rehab is a joke. I’ve been kicked out twice due to lack of funds {Seriously, who has $500 a day. Especially an addict!}. There needs to be change. I’ve said this for so long, but I’m at the point of where I feel I need to turn my words into actions.

    Anyways, I do want you to know that I am so sorry for your loss. I’m also so sorry for how selfish this devil of a drug makes us. While you will always grieve the loss of your son, I do hope you can take some comfort in knowing that you have helped someone. I wish I could do more to show you how incredibly and profoundly grateful I am.

  36. Sister Wolf says:

    Vanessa Ray – I do take comfort in this, very much. Thank you so much for taking the time to write. Max’s birthday is coming up, so this is a timely message for me to keep in my heart. Congratulations on getting clean!!! xoxo

  37. Murder Time says:

    I know you don’t endorse violence but I think its murder time for Mr. Del and the sadistic cunts at TTC. Peel their skin with a stiff wire brush. Let it scab over and repeat.

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