Lena Dunham isn’t afraid to admit that she needs a cane at times.
The actress and writer, 33, was leaving a doctor’s appointment in Los Angeles when paparazzi photographed her holding a cane. Dunham decided to address her situation directly, and shared the photo on Instagram to explain that she’s struggling with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare disorder that causes weak and painful joints, and loose skin.
Dunham said she could have lied about the photos and claimed she was in a Halloween costume, but chose not to.
“The truth is just: This is what life is like when I’m struggling most with chronic illness,” she wrote. “An Ehlers-Danlos syndrome flare means that I need support from more than just my friends… so thank you, sweet cane!”
The Girls star said that choosing to use a cane is a big step.
“For years, I resisted doing anything that would make my physical situation easier, insisting that a cane would ‘make things weird.’ But it’s so much less weird to actually be able to participate than to stay in bed all day,” she said.
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Dunham also owned up to wearing her nightgown outside.
“Yes, you’d better believe I’m wearing my nightgown. I was walking four feet to the car to go to the doctor and I wanted to be full cozy,” she said. “I mean, didn’t Bieber wear hotel slippers for like five years? Yeah, so I can wear my glamour nighty for two hours.”
Along with the paparazzi shot, Dunham shared a second photo from later that day.
“An hour later, I’m in a meeting look tackling the job I love,” she said. “That’s the two-fold life of a woman with chronic illness; we still rock our dreams and goals and passions (and fashions) and we live many lives in one day.”
Between her Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and endometriosis, Dunham is innately familiar with life with a chronic illness. In Nov. 2017, after years of endometriosis pain, she underwent a full hysterectomy to remove her uterus. She later had her left ovary removed as well to address lingering pain, and during her recovery, Dunham developed a “dependency” to the anti-anxiety medication Klonopin.
But in April, after going to rehab, she celebrated one year of sobriety.
“Sobriety hasn’t fixed my world. Life is still challenging- that’s the nature of the game,” she wrote. “But every day I am surprised by the richness and depth of, well, reality. I don’t need to escape this beautiful carnival. Instead, I’m on the ride.”