When he came home from Residential Treatment, he had begun taking Trazodone for sleeping. His two other medications affect sleep and he has also always had trouble with sleeping, so the doctor felt that the he should try taking a sleeping pill. I wish that he had gotten the sleeping pill issue all worked out before he came home to stay, but we seemed to be started from scratch trying to figure out the new medication.
Getting him to go to sleep was like being awake during a bad dream. Nothing really changed from the first night home when he gave us such a hard time about going to bed. It seemed to be an awful struggle every night.
Trazodone is meant to help a person stay asleep, but doesn’t really have “knock you out” components. So, On Trazodone, it still took him too long to fall asleep. He wanted to be able to watch TV for hours until he fell asleep. Even though we knew that wasn’t the best thing for him, he was absolutely sure that it was. We tried to make a rule about having the TV off by 10:30 or 11:00, but he would just freak out and tell us that he couldn’t go to sleep without it. Threatening to take the TV away resulted in horrendous arguments. Seriously, I didn’t want to fight about having a TV in his room. I just wanted him to be reasonable about when to turn it off and let his body go to sleep.
Since it was taking him such a long time to get to sleep and he was having a hard time waking up in the morning, the doctor decided to switch him to Ambien because it is supposed to help you get to sleep AND stay asleep. We prayed that this new medication was going to be the answer to the sleeping problem. We needed a break from the conflict.
With Ambien, a person needs to be in bed trying to go to sleep within 30 minutes. But, he wouldn’t change his bedtime routine. He still wanted to watch TV for hours until he fell asleep. He wasn’t letting the medication do its job. Two or three hours later, his mind didn’t want him to be awake and his behavior became unreasonable, irrational, and out of control. I thought his attitude was bad when he was awake while taking Trazodone, but it was nothing compared to this. Trying to tell him to do anything was pointless. He would rant and rave and swear excessively. Many times he said things that were hurtful and mean. How much of that was the medication and how much of that was just his way of letting out all of the feelings he had about us? I think it was probably a little of both.
We tried to just walk away to avoid arguing, but he would come after us to keep trying to get what he wanted. We lost our patience and our tempers when he did this. Of course, that made everything worse. And, by then we were so upset that we couldn’t sleep either.
The next morning, he always said he didn’t remember any of the horrible things that he had said or done. But, we still felt wounded and hurt by his tirades. He thought we were crazy for being upset at something that he had no memory of.
What was it going to take to get this resolved? And how long would we have to keep having this battle?
It wasn’t just about the Ambien, it was the fact that we thought we needed to have rules in the house and that the rules should be good for all of us. Our son thought that the rules were only good rules if they benefited him in every single way. He thought that if they didn’t benefit him in every single way, then they simply didn’t apply to him and he fought us about them or just ignored them.
It is another control issue. This is one of those areas where he can have all the control since he doesn’t really have very much control over everything else in his life right now. He says he wants the sleeping medication to help him with his sleep, but he still wants to control WHEN he goes to sleep.
We tried to come to an agreement on a rule that the TV had to be turned off within two hours of taking Ambien. Even though two hours was way too much time, this was as close to a compromise as we could get with him. He was supposed to take the pill one hour before he got into bed and then watch TV for one more hour.
All of this was to take place before 11:00 p.m. because not only did he need to have the TV off so that he could go to sleep, but he needed to have the TV off so that WE could go to sleep. Our room is directly across the hall from his room. He still didn’t have the privilege of having a door on his room and I am not going to shut my door anymore during the night, so that I can have a better chance of hearing him if he gets out of bed. The sound and the flashing lights of the TV were making it hard for me to go to sleep, too! He didn’t really care whether his actions made it hard for me to go to sleep and he just kept pushing against rules that he had agreed to.
We asked the doctor and the therapist to talk to him about an Ambien sleep routine. They both said, “Ambien is a medication that you take when you are ready to go to bed. You take it, lie down, and go to sleep. He should be ready for bed when he takes it.” He heard what they said, made them believe that he would try that, and then reverted back to his old behavior again and again.
I asked the doctor if he could increase the Ambien dose a little bit in order for it to make him fall asleep faster, but he said he couldn’t. I am sure that medically, his reasoning makes perfect sense. He thought we could get it worked out if we just kept trying for awhile longer. But, he doesn’t live here and isn’t going through what we go through every night.
Every night we are:
Trying to get him to go to sleep.
Experiencing intense arguing, yelling, and swearing.
Having him tell us that he could care less about having good relationship with us.
Feeling frightened about how angry he seems.
Hearing how he hates it here and can’t wait until he can move out when he is 18.
Feeling defeated and devastated.
Unable to figure out what to do.
Knowing that so much damage is being done.
Sad and upset.
Curling up in bed and wondering how it has come to this.
Remembering how it was when he was a little boy asking for just One more kiss and one more hug, before going to sleep.
Thinking about how I would gaze in awe at that sweet, peaceful, little face.
Realizing that he has changed so much and is now the boy who pushes me away and tells me to go to hell--with a hateful expression on that same face.
And I cry myself to sleep.