- Sorry for the delay: I got married. I got permission to start writing my thesis. I got offered a post doctoral position in my DREAM LAB (in South Africa).
- I used to wet the bed almost every day.
- I wet the bed until I was in my early 20s.
- Bed wetting really hurt my self esteem.
- I tried EVERYTHING I could think of and the only thing that worked was getting rid of milk in my diet.
- Life’s too short to be pissed off. Choose happy.
Everyone’s Got One and They All Stink…
I think it’s weird that I went so long without writing. I have had a few really busy months that have taken up most of my time. I got married in July, I got permission to start writing my thesis in September and I started interviewing for my Post Doc. I basically went straight from my honeymoon to working nonstop so I could convince 5 professors that my work is good enough to finishmy PhD, to convincing my future boss that I’m good enough to work in his lab. I’ll talk more about my future job really soon.
Anyway. I figured I could just jump back into the driver’s seat to talk about the bane of my early years, my teenage years and my early 20s. Bed-wetting! Bed-wetting eroded my self-esteem like salt-water slowly breaks down an abandoned lighthouse. Bed-wetting hurt me more than my ADHD tendencies and two severe learning disabilities. Bed-wetting is low self-esteem.
Bed-Wetting: Lowering my Self-Esteem Since 1983!
Low self-esteem sucks. It sucks hard. It sucks, dyson-hard. You know those over priced vacuums that can suck up paper clips that are wedged into carpet? Ya? Low-self esteem sucks that hard! Low self-esteem can result from a lot of things. My low self-esteem has been brewing for a long time. It has been the root cause of a lot of paralyzing days and sleepless nights. These sleepless nights were the worst.
Nighttime was my enemy. I was afraid to fall asleep. My heart rate would increase, I’d begin to perspire and my legs would twitch. When ‘normal’ kids would get ready for bed, I’d freak out. I freaked out because I WET THE BED!
There are definitely correlations between ADHD and enuresis. Individuals that have a hard time focusing are more likely to wet the bed than their ‘more attentive’ peers (a free review on the subject). So, I guess it makes sense that I wet the bed.
The Wet Years
My nocturnal enuresis (the scientific term for bed-wetting) was the worst in middle school and gradually dried up a by my 21st birthday. I’ll spare you most of the soaking details but I went from wetting my bed every night from 0 to 14ish, to most nights 14ish to 16; to a few times a week from 16 to 17; to a few times a month 18 to 19; to a handful of times every year from 19 to 21. Ugh…
When I was younger I was afraid to sleep over at friend’s houses. When I did sleep over I usually brought a sleeping bag even if they had an extra bed to sleep in. I had a routine: convince my friend that sleeping on the ground was cooler so they’d leave me alone. Go to the bathroom a million times. Don’t drink any water! I then would either 1) stuff my sweat pants with 2 or 3 t-shirts and a few socks or 2) put on a bed-wetting diaper for BIG KIDS that basically looked like a lady-pad but was horribly ineffective. I then, would stare at the ceiling praying that I wouldn’t pee my pants. Sometimes I would wake up dry and sometimes I would not. I hated myself.
The Worst Part About Bed Wetting: Dry-Pee Smell
The worst part about wetting the bed is that you have to do laundry to get rid of that horrible dry-pee smell. If you don’t wash your sheets everyday you wet, you will end up with sheets coated in a dry-pee aroma. Cat-pee may be an aroma in some white wines that sommeliers get hot and heavy over, but it’s the smell of failure when you’re little and unforgiving of yourself. Side note: Cat pee smell is gross, wine snobs are weird.
I didn’t do laundry everyday and I sure didn’t want my mom to do my laundry every day. So, I eventually gave up. I would just make my bed after I woke up to let the pee puddle turn into a pee stain. If I didn’t make my bed in the morning the bunched up sheets coated in pee would still be wet when I went to bed the following day! It was wet and STINKY. I got used to that smell. It was a part of me, it was a part of my life. As dumb as it sounds: dry pee defined me!
I used to wear a lot of cloth bracelets and I remember sitting in one of my 3rd grade classes and raising my hand. But when my hand moved past my nose I noticed that damn DRY PEE SMELL! I immediately thought I was tagged as a failure. If I couldn’t even sleep right, how could I do anything right?!
- Stop drinking at night. Duh! Didn’t work. FAIL
- Stop eating and drinking when it gets dark. Nope. FAIL
- My mom took me to a urologist that basically told me I was wetting the bed on purpose. He literally is the only person that I have NEVER forgiven because he made my mom cry. That asshole basically told me it was my fault and that my mom was an enabler. He was old, so he had that ‘tough it out’ kind of mentality. FAIL & worst doctor ever.
- My primary care physician prescribed DDAVP, which is an anti-diuretic. This did not help. But it was great at increasing my blood pressure and making me feel bloated and horrible at night. FAIL
- Teenage diapers. I’m not sure who designed these but men and women have different parts. A PAD DOES NOT WORK FOR DUDES! Imagine placing an outdoor hose on a small towel and turning it on. If the hose doesn’t move at all the towel may soak up most of the water, however that’s not how wieners work (especially when you’re going through puberty)! FAIL.
- Stuffing clothes down my pants works better than the diaper, but it was way more uncomfortable. FAIL
- Wearing plastic pants. Yup! I tried this too. I literally wore rain-pants to bed. I’d wake up in the morning not knowing whether I peed a lot, a little or if I was just sweeting profusely. This was the most uncomfortable. FAIL
- Plastic sheets. I used them for more than a decade! I basically felt like I was sleeping on a rain coat. I’d toss and turn because it was SO HOT on that damn sheet! FAIL.
- Bed wetting alarm! Yes. They make alarms that you Velcro into your underwear and a speaker on your shirt and if you pee, it screeches. It screeches obnoxiously loud. It works. The problem is that sleeping-Me would remove it! I’d wake up in a puddle of my urine with the alarm completely disconnected and off the bed! FAIL
- Anti-Milk. My mom once came up to me before school and said, “Collin, I just read something on the internet about people with enuresis and milk. Milk can cause some people to sleep more deeply and that has been associated with wetting the bed.” The glass of milk I had that morning was the last glass of milk I ever had. Although, my wetting didn’t completely stop, it did decrease by half within that first week. Going from wetting 5 days a week to 2.5 days was a win in my book. WIN (kind of)
I’m not sure how much milk was the cause of my bed-wetting. I think it was but that may be confirmation bias. Anyway, suffice it to say that it eventually subsided. But I am still left with the memory of hating to go to sleep, hating myself, hating my bladder, hating my male-parts and hating my brain for being so stupid that it didn’t even know that bladders are supposed to remain closed at night! That hatred, turned to fear and that fear turned to self loathing and that loathing turned to low self esteem.
I guess the point of this post is to just to get this off my chest. I understand low self esteem can come from a variety of places. My low self-esteem happen to be from my LDs and bed wetting. If you have low self-esteem just remember that we cannot change our past but we can change the way we approach each day.
I try to approach my days like this: So what if I’m LD? So what if I’m ADHD-like? So what if I wet the bed? So what if things are hard? So what if I feel like school is impossible? So WHAT?! Despite everything: I CHOOSE HAPPY. So should you!