“Because I’ve been bleeding from my vagina for almost 30 days now, and it’s no longer possible to hide my pain, fear, or fatigue.”
Lena Dunham has been ‘the sick girl’ for as long as she can remember.
She suffered crippling anxiety since early childhood, obsessive compulsive disorder, mood swings, fatigue and countless other physical ailments.
Not one to shy away from sharing the intimate details of her life, the Girls creator and star has written an essay for Lenny about life as ‘the sick girl’ and how an endometriosis diagnosis made her feel sane again.
Dunham says from the time of her first period, things didn’t feel right.
“The stomachaches began quickly and were more severe than the mild-irritant cramps seemed to be for the blonde women in pink-hued Midol commercials,” she wrote.
“Those might as well have been ads for yogurt or the ocean, that’s how little they conveyed my experience of menstruating.”
The pill and high doses of antidepressants did not help.
“Whatever the cause of the pain and fatigue, I missed 62 English classes in tenth grade and was crowned the grade’s sickest girl,” she says.
Dunham says she tried to shake the label and reinvent herself in college, but it wasn’t long before she was back in the emergency room (this time with a bacterial infection and mononucleosis).
“The mono symptoms faded, but what remained was pure exhaustion, syrupy and unavoidable. All my friends seemed tired too — after all, for many of us, college is one long party with Adderall as the guest of honor — but I knew deep down my version was different. I slept like I’d been clubbed in the head, and the rest of the time I felt a painful heaviness that I accepted as a continuing side effect of my OCD medication. Maybe it was just a side effect of being me.”
She managed to graduate and began to pursue her career, but had one overwhelming fear: “that my body would betray me, hold me back, and prevent me from pursuing a life of substance. That I had no control.”