Emilia Clarke says just as her dreams were coming true, "I nearly lost my mind, then my life."


Emilia Clarke has shared that she suffered from two life-threatening aneurysms while filming the first few series of HBO’s hit TV series Game of Thrones.

In a first-person story in The New Yorker, the actress, who plays Daenerys Targaryen on the show, revealed the first aneurysm occurred in 2011 soon after filming for season one had ended.

“Just when all my childhood dreams seemed to have come true, I nearly lost my mind and then my life,” Clarke began her piece.

While working out in a London gym, the actress shared she knew she was not feeling right when she began to have a “bad headache” and was “so fatigued”. Although she tried to ignore the pain at first, it quickly became unbearable.

“Somehow, almost crawling, I made it to the locker room. I reached the toilet, sank to my knees, and proceeded to be violently, voluminously ill. Meanwhile, the pain – shooting, stabbing, constricting pain – was getting worse. At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”

A woman who was in the bathroom at the time came to help Clarke. She was soon put into an ambulance to go to the emergency room.

Emelia Clarke
Image via Getty.

"The diagnosis was quick and ominous: a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture."

She continued: "As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter."

After the first aneurysm Clarke suffered from a condition called aphasia, which she explains was a "a consequence of the trauma my brain had suffered".

"I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name."


The second life-threatening scare came in 2013 after she finished filming the third season of Game of Thrones - which is now going into it's eighth and final season.

Clarke went in for one of her regular brain scans when doctors realised that a growth had doubled in size. The surgery to remove that growth failed, seeing doctors needing to immediately operate again, this time through her skull.

"I spent a month in the hospital again and, at certain points, I lost all hope. I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. There was terrible anxiety, panic attacks."

The actress shared that whilst at first she was terrified of her struggles becoming public, she now wants everyone to know her truth.

And as for her health now, Clarke shares, "In the years since my second surgery I have healed beyond my most unreasonable hopes."

"I am now at a hundred per cent."

The actress finished her essay by sharing how she feels about Game of Thrones coming to an end after eight seasons.

"There is something gratifying, and beyond lucky, about coming to the end of 'Thrones.' I’m so happy to be here to see the end of this story and the beginning of whatever comes next."