I need your help. I am a bedwetter. I am 13 and I don’t know what do to or who to go to, or why I keep doing this. I hate myself, I wish I could change.
I wish I could talk to someone about this, but I’m scared. Like maybe talk to my dad, but I don’t even know my dad ‘cause he left us when I was little, and I think he hates me because whenever I call him he doesn’t want to talk to me. He never even remembers my birthday.
…I just wanted to tell someone who could help me, I’m so embarrassed. Please don’t use my name. What should I do? Please answer my email if you have some time.
This isn’t my normal column topic, but your letter struck a nerve. But before I say anything else, listen to me:
Relax. Breathe, my friend. Eat something manufactured by Little Debbie. Draw a warm bath. Watch episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Or at the very least, “Monk.”
Peeing the bed is not a huge problem. Granted, I’m no doctor, and my advice isn’t worth much. It’s probably a good idea to get checked out, just to be safe.
Still, I believe you will get through this. I swear. And do you want to know why I believe this?
Because you’re talking to a former professional bedwetter.
That’s right. I used to wet the bed. You might think you’re unique, but you’re not the only one in the world with at golfball-sized bladder.
I peed the bed for years. It got to the point where my mother wouldn’t let me drink liquids past lunchtime. “But I’m thirsty, Mama,” I would whine.
To which Mama would reply, “Swallow your own spit, I do enough dirty laundry to cover the needs of Mainland China.”
Does any of this sound familiar?
My bedwetting problem got super bad after my father died by suicide. I was a mess. Every morning I awoke in a puddle.
Eventually, my mother helped cure my bedwetting problem. And believe me, I’m going to tell you how we accomplished this in a second, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The first thing you should know is you’re not a freak. Nighttime accidents are common. Around 20 percent of children pee the bed. Among teenagers, the average is around five percent.
Now, I want to pause here, and talk about this statistic. FIVE PERCENT of the world’s teenagers pee the bed. That’s a lot of pee.
Think about it like this. About 25 percent of the world’s population is teen. So if we do simple math, divide the sum, carry the two, subtract the fiscal gross income of Norway, we get about 2,000,000,000 bedwetting teenagers worldwide.
Two billion teenagers is a lot of folks.
That’s more than the entire population of China. That’s WAY more than the population of the United States. This number is well over twice the population of all Europe. Are you following me here? What I’m saying is that twice the population of Europe, including members of the Vatican City, still wets the bed.
What we’re actually talking about is called “nocturnal enuresis.” Kidneys naturally make more urine at night. And since your bladder is probably still growing, it might not be ready for the pee surplus.
Furthermore, at night, your brain is so deeply asleep that your whole body is numb, so you can’t feel when your body has to “go.” Thus, your body takes care of business.
I slept on rubber sheets for years. My mother took me to doctors because she was worried about my urinary problem. The doctor said it was probably stress.
Which brings up my final point.
Stress. Stress is one of the most common reason for enuresis. You might not THINK you’re stressed, but you probably are. Kids experience stress when life is unpredictable. Moving into a new house, or a new school, or experiencing a divorce, or losing a parent, or whatever.
So anyway, my mother finally cured my problem by setting an alarm clock. For years I slept with an alarm clock beside my bed. The clock went off at 1 a.m. Every night. The rule was whenever the alarm sounded, I got up and went to the bathroom.
I did this for three years. Eventually, I quit wetting the bed. In fact, going to the bathroom at night became such a habit that, to this day, I still wake up around that same time to see a man about a dog.
The main thing here is to realize that you are not weird, my friend. You’re just going through something. You’ve endured a lot in your life, and your body is likely dealing with stress the best way it knows how.
Talk to a doc. Try not to overthink things. You’re going to get past this. I promise. I got through it. So will you. You might not think your father has time for you, but you can rest assured that I do.
Write me any time.
—Your Fellow Bedwetter