I stumble out of bed, take a quick shower, and make my way down the hallway. I knock on the door. I wait. No answer. I open the bedroom door and peek at the sleeping teen in the bed. I glance at the clock. 7:23 am.
“Blake. Wake up,” I call.
No movement. Today is the same as everyday. No reply to the knock. No response to the name uttered. I sit on the side of the bed. I talk. I tickle. I finally count to three and hoist my sixteen-year-old into a sitting position. He’s semi-conscious and he continues to try to sleep while sitting up. I talk for a few minutes more. I chatter to the cat, who has come to inspect us and the room. He jumps on the bed. This is his morning routine, too. He comes to wake his boy, as well.
Finally, I I tell the teen that he must get out of bed now. Slowly, ever so slowly, he raises himself off the mattress, uttering a closed-eye prayer under his breath as he does, and walks into the bathroom. I leave – for the moment.
This may sound familiar to many. The teen who just wants to sleep in. Wait. Read on. Then, we’ll see…
Will He Ever Make It Downstairs?
Five minutes later, I pad down the hallway again. I knock on the door. No answer. I peek inside. The body is back under the covers, deep asleep once again.
“Blake. Blake! Get into the shower.”
He looks at me, a bit confused, and he rises from the bed, walks into the bathroom, and slowly shuts the door. I go back to my room to put on some makeup. I’m back at Blake’s door within ten minutes. I knock. No answer. I open the door. Blake is asleep again. His sheets are blotched with water. He’s showered and, soaking wet, gotten straight back into bed. I’m frustrated.
“What?” He bolts upright, stunned by the loudness of my voice.
“Get dressed – NOW.”
Five minutes later, I’m back at the door once more. I knock, yet again. No answer. I open the door. Blake is in his underwear, asleep on the bedroom floor.
“Put on some clothes. I’m going to stand outside the door.”
I close the door.
“Are you up? Are you putting clothes on?”
“Yes,” comes the answer from inside the room.
“Okay, I’m going to keep standing here and talking to you until you are ready.”
Finally!…Or, Maybe Not
I chatter on with him from outside the door, directing him to keep dressing, until he finally emerges from the room. We make our way downstairs. I begin to take care of our menagerie of pets – feed the dogs, clean the turtles’ water dish. I walk in and out of the kitchen, where Blake is supposed to be eating breakfast, saying his morning prayers, and starting his school work for the day. Each time I leave the room, Blake has begun part of a task. I return a few minutes later only to find him asleep once again.
“Blake. No sleeping. Get off the sofa and back to your routine.”
“Blake get off the floor. Wake up.”
“Blake, you’re not studying if your eyes are closed. Blake?”
I give up on getting anything done but the basics. I stay close by to keep my son awake. He looks miserable. He tells me he feels like he’s flown to a foreign country and that he’s struggling to stay awake so that he can adjust to the new time zone. Time and time again, I wake him. I send him outside for a walk around the neighborhood. He comes back and starts do work again. Within minutes he is asleep with his head in a book. Frustrated, I wake him yet again.
We go on like this day after day. I’m exhausted because, at the other end of the day, Blake can’t (or won’t) go to sleep. The hubby and I keep going into his room telling him to turn the light out. But he doesn’t want tomorrow to come. He doesn’t want another day like today was, so he drags it on and on, never comprehending that he is digging himself deeper and deeper into this hole. He doesn’t listen to our words, or the words of his doctors who tell him that he must sleep. And so, I stay awake at night, continually cajoling him to turn the light out. I cannot rest until I know that he’s finally turned it off. If I don’t stay on it, it will go on until 2 or 3 am – as if 12:30 a.m. wasn’t late enough.
I rearrange my schedule. I do my best not to have to leave the house before noon. It’s worse if I leave the house in the morning. I can leave what seems like a fully awake young man studying or feeding the dogs only to return to find him fast asleep on the kitchen floor or the family room couch.
At first, my hubby and I think we are dealing with defiance. Maybe we are. We are also dealing with profound depression. Blake does not see anything positive in this life. He sees nothing but the dreariness of schoolwork day after day. Other teens don’t interest him. He cannot imagine the future being any better. There is nothing he wants to do. The possibility of college sounds like continued torture. He escapes into the world of YouTube. He cries, he yells, and he stomps out of the room a lot. He threatens to run away.
“Put away the knives,” Michael advises me before he leaves for college.
We need more help, I realize. We definitely need more help. Will we even be able to do it here at home? Are we looking at hospitalization? Residential placement?
The final straw happens one day when the hubby and I have a commitment to get to. We will be away for six hours. Blake is up, into the full swing of his morning routine. We feed the animals and let the dogs out into the back yard. As we leave, we ask Blake to let the dogs back inside in a few minutes. He agrees and we go off to our appointment. The temperature soars to 103 degrees. When we arrive home, I learn that Blake fell back asleep on the floor for five hours while the dogs scratched repeatedly to come inside. He never heard a thing. I realize how serious the situation is. I cannot leave my sixteen-year-old alone in the morning. And I can’t do this alone. I call my friend – a mental health professional with lots of experience with kids with serious emotional issues – and I cry, really cry, for the first time in a long time. She props me back up and puts me on the road to action. I am not alone.