Lena Dunham has had a difficult journey.
On Monday, the “Girls” creator and star appeared on Global’s “The Drew Barrymore Show” and opened up about her health struggles in recent years, including having a hysterectomy at 31.
“Something from the beginning of my health struggle was the idea that I was not going to keep a secret because we are in a culture that sees illness as weakness,” she said of being public about her struggles. “We are in a culture that sees sick women as hysterical women and we are in a business that doesn’t look kindly at illness because people are working at such a pace with so much money involved that for people to be in any way unable to show up or potentially a liability and so I wanted to bring it out into the open.”
She continued, “I knew for a long time I was sick with endometriosis. It caused an enormous amount of pain, health challenges, but I also knew something deeper was going on with my body, and so I undertook an exploration and came to understand that I also have an underlying health condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which is a connective tissue disease that causes diffuse musculoskeletal pain and a number of other sorts of random but interlinked symptoms.
“I also have a form of autoimmune arthritis that is associated with it and so I also deal with autoimmune issues at the same time and so all of that came together in my 20s to make a pretty miserable, when I wasn’t treating it, to make a pretty miserable health picture, and sort of culminated in my having a hysterectomy and one of my ovaries removed at 31,” Dunham went on. “Which was terrifying — not just because it was a massive surgery but because I really want to be a mom and had always thought that I was going to do it in the traditional way, and I don’t think I realized how much I was going to grieve that and how intense that process was going to be.”
Dunham also talked about overcoming her addiction to pills, telling Barrymore, “I just remember being so terrified of the idea of disappointing people that really for me, at first, I was like, If I can take these drugs and they make me more like myself, isn’t that a better thing? And then suddenly I realized I was becoming less and less like myself and suddenly it was like sobriety wasn’t a choice for me. I was thrust into it because I realized there was no other way that I was going to get back to the life that I loved.”