Life Happens When You’re Asleep

These are the months that I’ve chosen to be asleep.  These are the months when I stopped liking what I saw in front of me so I decided to change it. Alter the reality, contour it to my liking. I went to sleep because nothing can hurt you there, not even dreams or nightmares. You’re slowly dying and it feels like a warm blanket that’s wrapping itself around you. Do you know how good it feels to trick people into thinking you’re alive? Here I am buying groceries and licking envelopes. Here I am laughing at the appropriate times and asking the right questions but it’s all just an elaborate ruse. I look alive, like a real person, but I’m actually asleep.  When are you going to notice it? Poke my skin and the flesh will feel real. Poke the insides though and you’ll see that it’s all dead.

While I was sleeping, I found others who were also dreaming their lives away and I stuck to them like a strong adhesive. Together we fell asleep and watched time get slower and slower. We didn’t have to lick envelopes and laugh at the appropriate times. We didn’t have to pretend that we were anything other than asleep.

You tried to call me; you tried to wake me up but at that point I wouldn’t have woken up for anyone but myself and I wasn’t ready. Because I knew that the second I chose to rejoin the living, I would have a huge mess to clean up and a lot of explanations to give to the people who had been standing by my body. I also didn’t want to have to relearn reality and color within the lines. There was real comfort in watching life pass me by as I lay there in my bed. I held on to my delusions. I squeezed them tight. I convinced myself that they were better than the real thing.

There would be flashes of life even when I was sleeping. They served as reminders of all the things I was leaving behind and I would try to push them out of my brain but some would still linger. Some wouldn’t let me forget. “Let it die. Let it crumble. I don’t care anymore. When are you going to realize how much I just don’t care?” But they would still hover over me, hoping that I would eventually let myself remember.

You can only stay asleep for so long until the senses get dulled and you forget how to wake up at all. You can feel the end beginning to start and your mind turning into mush, and that’s when you realize how quickly it can all turn permanent. It doesn’t ask for your permission. It just happens. This nap could easily turn into forever and is that what you really wanted? It can’t be, right? This was supposed to be a leave of absence. This wasn’t supposed to stick.

Oops, here comes forever.

Getting closer.

Almost here.


Wake up.

Splash water on your face. Prick your skin and let it bleed. Call all of the people who love you because they’ve been waiting to hear your voice. Tell them that you’re going to be alright, that you were tired of sleeping, and you’re ready to take care of yourself and be okay with things. You’re ready to work hard for your health and happiness. You’ve chosen to be awake. TC mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • Sekajske

    i can really relate to this with addiction, thanks i needed this

  • Saikia

    I personally thought this was an awesome write-up. Very out-of-the-box, like the prelude to a good Steven King book. Very neat.

  • Marco Gutierrez

    I’m wide awake, it’s morning er…afternoon

  • Orkielee

    freakin’ beautiful.

  • zlady6

    heavy piece…wasn’t expecting that

  • anon

    This is the ryan o’connell iIve been missing. Push yourself to write better, this shows that what you’re capable of.

  • FinancialCows

    Haven’t always been a Ryan fan… Winning me over with some of your recent stuff. This is great.

  • Lakshitha

    This is perfect. Living alone for the first time can be hell, I fell asleep to escape it, and I just woke up. Thanks for this.


    I miss seeing this type of writing from you! Quality is more important than quantity. Let’s see more where this came from.

  •ánchez-Mata/100000172988892 Diego Sánchez Mata

    I remembered liking you from this kind of posts, for the ones I can see myself and my generation described. Facing depression is not easy, is a decease that can easily kill you and so is addiction, I didn’t want to wake up given the overwhelming amount of guilt I felt for having fallen asleep in the first place. Ryan, you are sensitive and smart, there is a lot more you than the guy who writes about celebrities in a thoughtful critical way. I’ll always read you.

  • Rachel

    I love you, Ryan. You get inside my head, writing the words I feel but don’t express. Thank you.

  • JessSaysHi

    Ryan – nice work. 

  • TC Lurker

    Finally, Ryan. Finally.

    • Dbergkam

      Agreed: this is more substantial and more of what I would expect from a writer on thought catalog.

    • James

      exactly. this is the type of well thought out and purposeful writing I follow him for. It’s been awhile.

  • Noah Tourjee

    love you

  • Katie

    i. love. you. that’s all there is to it.

  • Sarah Bailey

    This is so good. It is so scary when you can just put into words the exact things i feel, and apparently so many others. I’m not sure I’m ready to wake up yet, but I know it will be soon, and in the meantime, I’ll just read your articles to keep my brain alive 

  • listenin'

    aw, strawberry fields and concrete streets.

  • Caitlin Moakley

    wow, what an eye-opening and beautifully put way to say “wake up, you’re going to miss out”. i need to pass this message on now that it’s hit me. thank you

  • Tdotrot

    from post to post, she pursues me…her papillae have grown firmer since that essay about white privilege, now they’re angry nubs boring hole in my eyes, my stained screen; in the flimsy yellow elastic thrown over her torso, rippling tight…a tiny cleft beneath the groin, before thigh kisses thigh within an ordained square inch…oh! i think it is love

  • mia nguyen

    Ryan, you hit me like a ray of sunshine every time. It’s never a disappointment.

  • cheeseplatter

    Oh, so it’s one of THOSE Ryan posts.

    not that there’s anything wrong with that

    • cheeseplatter

      I’m sorry; I take that back. I just thoroughly read the article and I have tears in my eyes. That was so beautiful. Thank you.

  • Frida

    one of my favorites on here. 
    we have felt it.
    reminds me of the bright eyes song “A Line Allows Progress, A Circle Does Not.”

  • kbleau

    words of wisdom from the R.O.C.- well done!

    • Christie

      all the way from the Republic of China?

  •ánchez-Mata/100000172988892 Diego Sánchez Mata


  • georgia

    this is absolutely lovely. thank you.

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