Everyone's experiences were different and the intensity of the hallucinations also varied from person to person.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on February 11, 2022. It has since been updated.
One can never really grasp what it feels like to be in a coma. Is it a stage of limbo? Is it a vast canvas of blackness that knows no time? Is it death itself? People who have been in a coma shared their personal experiences on Reddit and it's an eye-opener. Some said they had such vivid delusions they couldn't tell if they were real or not. Some said they conversed with their dead relative and thought it was real. One person lived an entire decade with a family in another realm and woke up from the coma heartbroken to have lost them. Here are some of the top replies we came across:
In 2016 I was in a coma from March 31 to May 5, then half-awake for another month after that. It was like the longest scariest dream of my life. I was medically induced by a fentanyl drip for about a week at first and let me tell you, fentanyl is a demon. Whacky dreams about fighting corrupt hospital officials, so my brain knew where I was. They didn't think I'd ever talk or walk again, but in the hospital bed, I laughed at an episode of That 70s Show and inclined every day after. Putting me at about 85% health overall these days. But pretty much an average guy. Oh, it was a head injury, had a seizure in the bathroom that made me fall onto the sink. u/greenfingers559
When I was in 5th grade I fell out of a tree and bonked my head pretty well. I woke up 3 days later in the hospital. For me, the experience is easily summarized in three parts:
When I fell, I blacked out before I hit the ground... or at least that is where memory fades. And "fades" is really the best word. It was as if my consciousness was drained away and then blackness and nothingness. It was as if my body knew how bad it was going to hurt and so it shut down.
I have very, very, very, vague memories while in the coma of hearing my Dad reading a book, or my Mom telling me that she knew I would pull through, or of a tube in my nose. Waking up was sudden. So, so sudden. I was in blackness. Had a moment of awareness, like "my neck hurts" and then the pain was magnitudes higher. No longer a distant perception but something that I was actively conscious of. Waking up was the most painful moment of my life and I just started crying and then couldn't even cry it hurt so bad. After an hour my body was used to the pain and I was totally normal, albeit very weak, hungry, and thirsty. I survived and am fine now without any lasting issues. -u/Rangnarlothbrook
I can only compare it to when you’re little and wake up at a friend's house and don’t know where you are. I was in a coma for 2 months after a bad car accident. It wasn’t medically induced, it was thanks to brain damage. When I woke up I was alone in the hospital room and had no clue what happened or why I was there. I had a neck brace on due to a broken neck so I figured something was wrong with my neck but was unsure how or what happened. For some reason, I thought I was 60 years old (I was in my 20s). I was paranoid and scared but didn’t know why I was there. I used context clues to figure out I was in the hospital. It was frightening. After about 5 minutes I decided to go back to sleep. 2 months of sleep wasn’t quite long enough. u/Thisblowshard11
Two weeks induced because of Swine Flu. During this time Oprah announced she was ending the Oprah Winfrey Show. I was very upset to learn this fact. Mostly because the tv running in my room + the drugs they gave me to keep me under gave me the most cinematic dreams I've ever experienced — somehow the news of Oprah retiring filtered into my brain as dreaming about saving the whales with her in a submerged Chicago. We had a champagne brunch. It was excellent. I was also a superhero who could fly and fought my enemies on the rims of volcanoes. And then I woke up and not only could I not fly, but my buddy Oprah had betrayed me into retirement. I was crushed. - u/mewmao
I wasn't in one for long (just under a week). While I was in a coma, I didn't remember a thing. When I came out of it, I just remember hearing my mom yell to the attending "HE'S UP!". Then I woke up with a bunch of white coats in the room. I was super stiff and incredibly confused. Oddly enough, I kept having vivid dreams of myself in a coma after the fact. Still have them to this day. They're almost like an out-of-body experience because I can see myself laying in bed with people around me. u/Drdontknowanything
Was hit by a car when I was 5 years old. Ended up with toxic shock syndrome and went into a coma for 4 months. I just remember some very weird 'dreams,' which I can still recall vividly 26 years later. Someone mentioned something about visiting another realm, and that's pretty close to the mark. u/ManiacMando
My favorite dream from the coma involved me floating over a huge grey-colored ocean, and I saw something rise up from the water that I can only describe as a dragon with scoliosis. It moved its head like it was smelling the air and then turned and looked right at me. In another, one of my favorite cousin had abandoned me and now lived in the ceiling above my hospital bed with my two best friends, Jason and Jason, who were also twins. They just moved a tile out of the way and would just stare at me from above. u/ManiacMando
My dad has described his coma after his car accident. He was pulled up a little too far at a stop sign, and a guy who was speeding and on his phone swerved off the road.
So he was in a coma for about two months. On my end, it wasn’t like the movies. He didn’t just wake up miraculously. It was two months of steady improvements. One eye opened, then a few days later his other eye was half open, then he could wiggle a toe, then he could move his fingers, etc. On his end, he said he could hear bits and pieces of what was happening around him, but it was like a dream that he couldn’t wake up from. When I and my two younger siblings would come in and talk to him, his heart rate would go down. When a football game was on and his friends came to sit with him and watch it, the nurses made them turn it off once his team started losing because his heart rate blew up. -u/Publixhousecat
I was in one for like 2weeks I would not wish it on anyone. For me, I was in a long dream. I did realize I was asleep for a long time. I was still able to feel and hear, which was interpreted into my dream. Example: My hands were restrained so I would not pull out any tubes and my dream was that I was being held in a prison. u/MaraMarieMadd
I was in a medically induced coma for 3 days during my cancer treatment. My identical twin brother died around a year prior (also to cancer) and the entire time I was in the coma, I was with him. We were in a large green field with lots of sun and my conversations with him felt real. Other than that, I didn’t hear any of my family talking to me while I was asleep. It was just like I had gone to bed for 3 days, and I woke up feeling very tired. I do wonder whether my interactions with my twin brother were real, or if it was just the drugs I was given causing them. u/Prince-William15
Not me, but my dad — he was in a coma for about a week after riding his bike head-first into a telephone pole. He says that he remembers the accident itself, followed by an out-of-body experience. He remembers flying high above the scene of the accident and looking down at his body laying there lifeless. He remembers seeing a woman from the neighborhood rushing over to see what happened and other neighbors brought out a flat beach chair to put him on while waiting for the ambulance.
After he woke up from the coma and immediately broke down crying as the influx of stimulation and confusion poured in. His brain was stuck about 5 or 6 years in the past. He remembered his phone number, address, etc. but from years ago and he couldn’t remember the current info. It took about two weeks after coming to for his brain to catch back up to the current day. The spookiest part? He went to the house of the woman who he had seen first from “above” and asked if she had been the first to get there and other info about what he saw from outside his body and.... she confirmed all of it. Pretty wild! u/Bornanyway
I was in a coma because I fell 15 meters and broke nearly all of my bones in my back and it was horrible. When I woke up I thought the nurses were torturing me and that I need to escape. I started hallucinating a lot and couldn't even understand that I am in the hospital. The biggest problem was my dreams. I thought I was a time traveler or some kind of God. I thought I was shot by the police and other shit. I still have flashbacks to this day and it is no fun. But I am getting therapy to deal with it. And I could watch porn in my dreams so yeah. It was confusing and horrible at the same time. 0/10 would not do again u/AlexWinchesterSohn
My last semester at a certain college I was assaulted by a football player for walking where he was trying to drive, while unconscious on the ground I lived a different life. I met a wonderful young lady, she made my heart skip and my face red, I pursued her for months and dispatched a few jerk boyfriends before I finally won her over, after two years we got married and almost immediately she bore me a daughter. I had a great job and my wife didn't have to work outside of the house, when my daughter was two she [my wife] bore me a son. My son was the joy of my life, I would walk into his room every morning before I left for work and doted on him and my daughter.
One day while sitting on the couch I noticed that the perspective of the lamp was odd, like inverted. It was still in 3D but... just.. wrong. (It was a square lamp base, red with gold trim on 4 legs and a white square shade). I was transfixed, I couldn't look away from it. I stayed up all night staring at it, the next morning I didn't go to work, something was just not right about that lamp. I stopped eating, I left the couch only to use the bathroom at first, soon I stopped that too as I wasn't eating or drinking. I stared at the f*cking lamp for 3 days before my wife got really worried, she had someone come and try to talk to me, by this time my cognizance was breaking up and my wife was freaking out. She took the kids to her mother's house just before I had my epiphany.... the lamp is not real.... the house is not real, my wife, my kids... none of that is real... the last 10 years of my life are not f*cking real!
The lamp started to grow wider and deeper, it was still inverted dimensions, it took up my entire perspective and all I could see was red, I heard voices, screams, all kinds of weird noises and I became aware of pain.... a sh*t ton of pain... the first words I said were "I'm missing teeth" and opened my eyes. I was laying on my back on the sidewalk surrounded by people that I didn't know, lots were freaking out, and I was completely confused.
I went through about 3 years of horrid depression, I was grieving the loss of my wife and children and dealing with the knowledge that they never existed, I was scared that I was going insane as I would cry myself to sleep hoping I would see her in my dreams. I never have, but sometimes I see my son, usually just a glimpse out of my peripheral vision, he is perpetually 5 years old and I can never hear what he says. -temptotosssoon.
I was in a medically induced coma for about a week. The coma itself is not much to talk about - there is just a gap in your memory, even from before it happened (I don't even remember the accident that brought me there in the first place). Waking up from it is a much different story though. Since I was fully dosed by painkillers and sedatives and whatnot I was basically high as a kite and since the trauma I suffered was very serious my brain constructed very stressful, vivid nightmares I remember to this day. u/Spidermechanic
It’s called ICU delirium. Some people feel things are being done to them like being buried alive or having legs and arms amputated. u/alponch16. I had ICU delirium and had the most intense and horrifying delusions. I didn’t know a mind could go to such dark places, but mine did and it scared me half to death. It has taken months to get some of what I thought I was experiencing out of my head. One time I had visitors and my niece was holding my hand and massaging it and I remember having a delusion that she was breaking all the bones in my hand. I could have sworn on a bible at that time that it happened. So bizarre. u/Colouroutsidethelines
This is so interesting to read everyone’s experience. I’m an ICU nurse and I work with patients in comas all the time. I talk to them, I let them know why I’m touching them whether it be to give them medication, draw lab work, bathe them, or clean them after an incontinent episode. I’ll also reorient them to where, why, and how they’re in that situation. I’ll also tell them when their loved ones call to check on them. I would feel awful knowing someone I took care of had flashbacks of feeling violated during a coma. -nicoat594
I was told I was in a medically induced coma for 6 days. I remember having lucid dreams that were super psychedelic and terrifying because a part of me knew this wasn't real and was desperate to wake up. When I finally did, I had crazy hallucinations. I was convinced I rode a blimp, had butterflies land in my eyes, and that a team of hitmen was trying to steal my meds. I hallucinated children playing in the room next to mine when there wasn't a room next to mine. It was a window, and police lights would trick me. I was convinced that there was a drop panel behind my bed leading to the sewer system, and that's how the hitmen were stealing my meds. I was also convinced that the doctors had special devices that made me fly. Yeah, mushrooms ain't got sh*t on comas. -stryker2279