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One of ERIC’s supporters, John*, reminisces about those difficult years when his childhood was overshadowed by bedwetting.

In any close-knit community, a display of bed linen hung out to dry on an almost daily basis is noticed by neighbours. My mother found it embarrassing, my father shaming and I humiliating.

Bedding drying Bedwetting can bring shame and embarrassment to a family

One of my earliest memories is being taken to the doctor on a cold winter’s evening to see if there was a remedy for my bedwetting. My father explained to me afterwards, as I was put to bed, that the doctor had recommended circumcision. His graphic description of the operation was frightening and did nothing to settle my bedtime nerves. I hated going to bed and viewed my bedroom as a torture chamber.

I hated going to bed and viewed my bedroom as a torture chamber. 

Losing sleep

My solution was to try to sleep as little as possible. I read with my bedside lamp on until I could hear my parents climb the stairs for bed. After that, I would continue reading with a torch under the sheet until I was too exhausted to stay awake. This naïve and ultimately useless action meant I was one of the most widely read children in my school – few others had read Austin, Dickens and Dumas by the age of 11!

Boy reading My solution was to try to sleep as little as possible. 

The ripple effect 

My inability to control my bladder at night made my parents uneasy about going on holidays or staying with relatives; sleepovers were totally out of the question. Generally, my mother was a martyr to my problem. My father saw it as an act of “willfulness” which could be solved by “a good hiding or threatening to rub my nose in it”.

Parents frustratedMy dad saw my bedwetting as "wilfulness"

My nocturnal enuresis stopped by the age of 12, but even at 18 I viewed going to university with some trepidation. Luckily, I was “cured” by then and the problem has never returned.

In the genes 

I am now in my 50s. I always tell people I have had a charmed life – the pain of my bedwetting is now a childhood memory. However, shortly before my mother died, I mentioned it whilst we were doing the washing up together. She seemed to have forgotten my problem. But on being reminded she said that her brother, my uncle, had also wet the bed when he was a child.

The pain of my bedwetting is now a childhood memory.

I wasn't the only one 

I wish my mum would have told me about my uncle’s bladder problem when I was a child. It might have gone a long way to ease the anguish by knowing I wasn’t the only person in the world with the condition.

I was a teacher for 35 years. I was often aware of children who smelt of urine. I was lucky, my mother always washed me in the morning after a mishap. 

Two people holding handsERIC makes you realise you're not the only one

Finding ERIC

A few years ago, I heard a charity appeal on Radio 4 about ERIC presented by David Baddiel. That’s when I found the ERIC website which brought back memories of my childhood that were locked away, forgotten. I wish there had been a similar organisation to help me when I was a child. After reading the information I found on the ERIC website, I now realise there were medical reasons beyond my control.

Download our Guide to Night Time Wetting for more information on how to manage and treat bedwetting.

*Stock images have been used and names have been changed.