A little guidance can help

I left work a bit early today to meet my mentee, who has been having trouble recently attending class. When I say she’s been “having trouble,” I really mean she just hasn’t been going altogether for the last month. She’s already failed one of her classes and has decided to drop it, and when I asked her today why she hasn’t been attending, she said she felt “sleepy all the time and just wanted to sleep.” She’s been sleeping through classes and then staying in bed until she needs to use the bathroom or eat.

Well, I know what that means. Her depression is getting worse. I suggested that she start with baby steps to deal with how to battle her fatigue. She’s been going to sleep by 10 and waking up at 11am the next morning; that means she’s getting 13 hours of sleep every night, and oversleep can oftentimes make you feel even worse and less rested. So I suggested she start small by shaving off a few hours of sleep per night: maybe the first night, go to sleep by 10 or 11, then wake up by 8. No matter what time she goes to sleep, she has to give herself some semblance of routine by waking up at around the same time. Then, immediately haul ass, get out of bed, and do something active, like go to the gym, walk, do jumping jacks; anything to get her blood flowing. The biggest challenge of getting up in the morning is just getting out of bed. That really goes for all of us.

“How am I going to know that you are really committing to waking up at 8am?” I asked her. “I’m going to text you for the next few days at 8am and make sure you’re really awake, and you better not be lying to me and say you are awake but just going back under the covers. We can reevaluate in a week or two whether this is doable.”

She promised she wouldn’t lie and would commit to this for at minimum two weeks before seeing if the time/routine needed to be adjusted.

I left her this evening feeling a bit relieved that we had this conversation in person, but sad at the same time. I’m happy to help her, to give suggestions when she is struggling, but it makes me sad to think that maybe if Ed had someone extra in his life who he could look up to that he could have had similar guidance and encouragement…. Something as simple as someone caring and unjudgmental to say to him, “Hey! You are sleeping more than usual. Why do you think that is? How can we get you into a more regular routine?” No shaming. No anger. No finger pointing. No blaming. No guilting. Just observations, suggestions to make for an easier life. Everyone needs a little extra pushing at some points of their life, and Ed seemed like he never had it at all from anyone.


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