Saturday, January 21, 2012

I'm Making My Sweet Boy Cry, and It's Killing Me

Bedtime in the ODD household used to be absolute hell. And by hell, I mean hell. Yelling, screaming, crying, throwing things, door slamming, you name it. For one thing, Bear would be tired, so his aggression would skyrocket. He also had problems falling asleep, which is a classic ADHD symptom. Then we discovered ADHD meds, which helped with the aggression, and melatonin, which made him sleepy. Those changed bedtime for what we hoped was forever.

Then along came last week, or maybe the week before, and suddenly all Bear's sleep issues resurfaced with a vengence. The melatonin stopped working, and suddenly he wasn't falling asleep until 3 a.m...or 4 a.m...or 5 a.m. He wasn't even yawning! (I've noticed he rarely yawns, which is something I'll be talking to the doctor about. Maybe it's a sign of something.) He didn't go to school for a week and a half because you can't send a child to school on 2 hours of sleep. Night after night we went through this. In addition to not sleeping, he was also wildly hyper and dangerously aggressive at night. Once Bear's meds have worn off, he's a different boy altogether.

Then the other night I clued into the fact that getting him to bed at 4 a.m. wasn't any easier than trying to get him into bed at 9 p.m. He'd cry. He'd scream. He'd slam his door. He'd throw things at me. He'd pound on our bedroom door to try to wake up The ODD Dad. He'd scream outside Stitch's room to try to wake him up. Except this was at 4 a.m., and Mommy was exhausted. Eventually he'd wear himself out and I'd go in and snuggle him while he cried himself to sleep. After three or four nights of the 4 a.m. game I started to see if I could move bedtime up. What if I provoked him into meltdown at 2:00 a.m...would he exhaust himself and fall asleep? Yup. What about midnight? Yup. Except now he's figured out what Mommy's doing, and he's devastated. Mommy's making him cry on purpose, and so rather than flying into a rage that he's locked in his room (because I actually have to lock him in), he sobs. He sits against his door and crying his little heart out, sobbing "let me out...Mommy...let me out...I want Mommy...I want my Momma..."

And it's killing me.

Note: We have an appointment with Bear's specialist on Tuesday, and I'm praying that we can get something to help him sleep.


  1. Are you familiar with the Hopeful Parents blog? I ask because the woman who started it has a son with similar sleeping issues.

    1. No, I'm not, but I think I'll check it out right now. After all, it's only 1:00 a.m. and Bear and I are still awake. I have nothing better to do...oh wait...I could be sleeping. Right, Hopeful Parents it is! ;-)

  2. What if you lock yourself in with Bear? What if you simply sit in a chair in his room, locked in with him. With just a bed and a chair, he can't "do much". You don't interact with him. You just sit and meditate/pray. He still has his mommy (which he obviously needs), and he slowly learns to listen to his own body and sleep when he is tired, especially when he is overtired.

    It is hard. I know. It's heart breaking. Right now though he has the run of the house until you cause him to have a meltdown. What would be the consequence of limiting him to his room?

    I'm sorry if this sounds like a simpleton answer. It's something that I did with my girls when they were younger. Although they don't have ODD, their ADHD and anxiety (both untreated) could make things difficult at times.

    Sometimes, when they needed discipline, I would be present to them. If it was a matter of punishment for doing something they shouldn't have (like hitting someone) I would have them "glue their b@tt to my foot" - I mean that I would have them sit down beside me as I was working in the kitchen or doing a chore, and they were not allowed to move from there until we had talked things out. I would then continue with doing the dishes, and they would try to wiggle out of it. I would only ever talk to them if they tried to leave, and then it was to "reglue" them to their spot. Then when the time out was over, I would talk it out with them. Thing is, the time out would start over every time they moved. Some of the kids learned their lessons faster than others.

    I still do something similar when some of them have to work together - oil and water you know... For example, I send them to fold a basket or two of laundry, and then when the fighting starts (which it inevitably does), I go up and I sit beside them. I don't do the work for them. I simply sit and watch them work - or read, or other quiet work. They then do the work without fighting. The discussion is still poor, but at least people are not hitting each other.

    I have now started to toughen things up though. We all have too much work to do to really allow some of the children to derail us so much. The offending children now not only have to do the task that they were given originally, they also have to do the task that the person who ended up supervising them was doing when they had to go supervise them.

    I started doing this type of parenting early on as a parent. I figured just because the child needs discipline, it doesn't mean that they don't need their mom at the same time.

    When the kids were much younger, we had some of the same issues you are having with bedtime. They wouldn't go to bed. They would play until they just dropped. Thing is, they wouldn't drop. So we sat. Much like I explained.

    It's not a judgement of your parenting - you know your situation so much better than I do. You more than likely already tried something very similar to this. It's just a suggestion. It's also half past midnight and I haven't really slept well over the last two nights and I've gotten up too late to be able to take my ADHD medicine so I'm three days since my last dose. If I don't make sense, or if anything is offensive, please know that I only come from a place of love for a fellow struggling mom, and forgive me.

    I hope you get a good night's sleep soon! At least you'll be seeing the specialist on Tuesday... :)

    1. Johanne, I always know your comments are coming from the right place. Bear has had sleep problems since he was tiny, although we didn't realize it then. There was a time when I would lie down with him at night because that was the only way he could fall asleep. I eventually backed off and started leaving sooner and sooner, until he didn't need me to lie down with him anymore.

      The problem with ODD is that it's a complete game-changer. Kids with ODD don't do anything they don't want to do. Bear won't stay in bed just because I tell him to. Sitting beside him won't help. Trust me, I would do it if I thought it would. Kids with ODD can get extremely violent when things aren't going their way. Let me put it this way: we have a lock on the baby's door so Bear can't get in there and hurt him when he's in a rage. We also have a lock on Bear's door now so that he can't get out and hurt me when he's in a rage. With ODD, all bets are off.

      Out of curiousity, why can't you take your ADHD meds when you get up regardless of what time you get up?

    2. I can't take the ADHD meds too late in the day or else I won't be able to get to sleep at night. It's a stimulant medication with an effect of 12hrs. So it can get a little problematic if I get a bought of insomnia. For me too late in the day is anytime after 11:30am. For a few days last week, I was waking up well after lunch! Once I managed to finally get to sleep and get a full night's sleep, I was able to wake up before my medication time "limit".

      For the girls, since they need to go to bed earlier, their limit is 9:00am.

  3. My son had a period of similar dysregulation last August. He didn't rage at night (thank goodness), but he sure didn't sleep. It went on for about a month, then stopped.
    After 3 days of it I gave him some Benedryl. Worked like a charm. After 2 days of Benedryl I called his dr. and she said it was okay as long as it was short term. So I'd give him Benedryl for a couple of days, then try a night without, finally giving in at midnight or so, until one night without he just went to sleep so I quit giving it to him.
    Some kids can't take Benedryl, however. Hopefully that's not your boy.
    My son also has mood disorder, and takes meds for that. Recently they classified it as pediatric bipolar. The dysregulation in August was related to that. Wonder if your kiddo is the same?
    And about the making him cry thing - my child sometimes needs a "snap out of it" moment to stop whatever angry, perseverating tangent he's on. His "snap out of it" thing is a spanking. And I'm not just saying that to justify spanking my child - it's actually true. Any big, physical, forceful thing will work - a huge, hard bear hug will work pretty well, but a spanking provides enough proprioceptive input to knock him out of whatever loop he's on. He'll generally scream and cry and then calm right down.
    That sounds really terrible, I know. And it bothers me that it's the case. But it's true. Sounds like your son's crying/raging does the same thing for him. It's a sensory seeking/intensity seeking behavior.

    1. Benedryl you say...hhhmmm...I might just have to try that tonight. I wonder if Gravol would do the same thing.

      Bear has ADHD and ODD, so we need to keep an eye out for things like pediatric bipolar. He's only 6, so I'm pretty sure we'll be adding to the alphabet soup of his diagnosis as he gets older. In fact, I'm starting to wonder about high-functioning autism, and it's this sleep thing that has made me wonder. I've noticed that he doesn't yawn -- ever. I can be sitting here yawning away at 4 a.m., and he doesn't catch the contagious yawns. You know who doesn't catch contagious yawns? Kids with autism.

      As for the spanking, we've done it too, but it didn't work for us at all. With his ODD, it merely enraged him. If I slapped him on his butt, he'd cry for a minute and then he'd hit me back. The other thing is that he'd yell "HA HA!!! THAT DIDN'T HURT, YOU IDIOT!!!!" and we'd be back where we started.

      Good luck with your son, Adrienne. That must be an incredibly scary and difficult diagnosis. I'll be following your "adventures" closely.


  4. Benedryl makes my daughter hyper...(we use it for allergies) curious, where do you get the melatonin? That's been recommended before - just have no idea where you get it.
    Love your blogs Laura....I really feel for you! Please know that you are not alone! That's what I discovered when I read your experiences :-)

    1. Thanks so much for the kind words. I started this blog because I knew we couldn't be the only ones going through this, so words of reassurance are always welcome!

      As for melatonin, you can get it at any pharmacy. If you're in Canada, the best one I've found so far is Life brand, available at Shoppers Drugmart. We tried other brands, including big name brands, but they didn't seem to work as well. Good luck! I hope it works.

  5. I am so extremely sorry my friend. I can't even imagine how difficult this is for all of you.
    Is there any medication that can help make him sleep? Does his doctor know about this?
    I wish that I could say more to help but all that I can offer you are warm hugs and prayers of strength.

    1. Thanks, Kimberly. He's always had trouble sleeping, but not like this. He used to have a hard time falling asleep and then a hard time staying asleep. The melatonin used to help him fall asleep, but apparently your body can get used to that. When he was diagnosed with anxiety, the doctor explained that could be what was causing him to wake up in the night and not be able to get back to sleep. Sure enough, we started him on an anti-dep and his night waking went away.

      We just so happen to have an appointment with the specialist on Tuesday, so I've just been counting the days. Here's hoping she can figure something else.

      Thanks for the hugs and the prayers. Back atcha, Babe!

  6. Oh - I should have also said that my son takes melatonin, and has been doing so since he was 4. He hasn't gotten used to it yet, although of course when he quit sleeping in August that was what I thought had happened.
    I went to the national CHADD conference in November and went to a session on alternative/complimentary meds for ADHD and there were only 2 supplements the drs. felt they could recommend without reservation - they were fish oil for brain function and melatonin for sleep.

  7. Hi, I just read your blog, and I have to say as a sufferer of adult ADD, I am having similar problems. I've been sleeping a little better recently but last week, I had been going day after day w/ going to sleep at 3 and 4 in the morning and it was not even really a sleep, it was really more like I'd doze off but I'd be very aware of what was going on around me. I woke up one morning pissed. I mean so pissed that I had to rant about it on facebook. I'm taking vyvanse, and Idk if it's the time that I was taking it or what. I'm guessing I am supposed to take it at 6 AM, versus 8 AM or 9 AM like I had been doing. But I mean I'd get sleepy around 1:00 AM, but I would not be able to fall alseep once I got into bed, I'd toss and turn all night. So I know how your son feels. I've had ADD since I was a kid, and I remember nights waking up as early as 3:00 AM b/c I could not sleep. I'm simply writing to tell you that your son is not the only one. This might be the discussion of my next entry in my "My Point of View" blog. So, what that being said, how is your son doing now? I realize that this was written in January. Is he doing okay now? Did you ever make that trip to the doc?


    1. Hi Joel. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with me. I have ADHD myself, although I'm only recently diagnosed (at 40) and start my meds tomorrow. I had problems sleeping as a child as well, and was wide awake until 11 p.m. or midnight even as a little thing. Of course, no one knew why back then. We ended up starting Bear on Clonidine back in January, which had been helping him fall right to sleep. Lately that doesn't seem to have been working, but in talking to our pharmacist today I've realized that it's possibly his ADHD meds that are keeping him awake. We recently raised his Concerta dose, and that might be why he's been having problems again. We're going to play with the dose a bit to see if we can get it straightened out. This weekend he was awake for 20 hours straight, which isn't good for anyone! Thanks for asking!

  8. Hi I just found your blog after fighting it out with my son and tooth brushing. I told him tonight I was done his teeth could rot out of his mouth I didn't give a crap (yes I used crap). He's 8 going on 42, ADD, ODD, and just well it was a trying 2 hours this evening.

    My son has been on Strattera since he was 4 40mg we've never had to increase/decrease the dosage. The reason we did Strattera is it can help to squash the anger issues that the stimulant drugs can create. He started on Risperdol around the same time as he'd be awake and WIRED FOR SOUND until midnight. Yeah well I'm a military wife who's been through 2 deployments totaling almost 4 years and ain't nobody happy if Momma ain't getting her sleeps. The Risperdol helped a bit but not enough so we switched him to Clonidine...1mg at night in the past year we switched to .05 in the am and .05 in the pm as he was literally falling asleep in school. Not so good for that whole education thing right. 2 months ago his psych said hell let's try's Clonidine in a 24 hour time release..can we just say fabulous! I do 3mg of Melatonin if I notice him ramping up later in the evening (but before teeth brushing). He's been off of the Melatonin for almost 12 days now and so far so good.

    Anyway I've done some browsing of your blog and we have quite a few similarities except I don't have the anxiety part to deal with but my son has been kicked out of daycares (including his home daycare he was at for almost 3 years) and we have an almost 5 year old that I've had to do the Momma Bear thing on a few times to protect him from his older brother.

    I know things could be wayyyyy worse but sometimes this is so horrible. Anyway it's nice to know that there are others out there muddling through as best as possible. Have you read any decent books? I spent last week (he was at summer camp I got 1 call thank you very much) and read 4 books on ADD, ADHD, Boys, ODD, etc and am starting some new routines in this house to see if I can help fix his negative reward behavior cycle. Read a fabulous book called the The Defiant Child (fabulous!) and also Parenting Your ADHD Son (or something similar to that (it's upstairs)) and the one I'm plowing through is the Nurtured Heart Approach (which is a good read as well).

    Anyway keep writing and sharing so I know I'm not alone.

    -Another Mom who's BTDT