After a paparazzi image of her not looking at her best while walking with a cane went viral, Lena Dunham took to Instagram to share her story of chronic illness and revealed her diagnosis of Ehlers-Danos Syndrome. Dunham, who has talked before about being a recovering addict and severe endometriosis led her to have a hysterectomy, opened up about the realities of her struggle and how walking with a cane has made her life much easier.
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I could choose to be embarrassed by these paparazzi pics- I mean, that’s probably the point of someone publishing them in the first place- but I’m really not. I could lie and say it was an early Halloween look (Don’t you get it? I’m going as a con woman leaving a Florida Keys jail after being acquitted of murdering her husband, and now she’s trying to get disability license plates.) But the truth is just: This is what life is like when I’m struggling most with chronic illness. An Ehler-Danlos syndrome flare means that I need support from more than just my friends… so thank you, sweet cane! 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. And 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. I mean, didn't Bieber wear hotel slippers for like five years? Yeah, so I can wear my glamour nighty for two hours. And then an hour later, I’m in a meeting look tackling the job I love. 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. Tell me about your day!
Dunham’s not the only public figure to have dealt with EDS in recent months. Both Sia and Jameela Jamil talked about their diagnoses.
Hey, I'm suffering with chronic pain, a neurological disease, ehlers danlos and I just wanted to say to those of you suffering from pain, whether physical or emotional, I love you, keep going. Life is fucking hard. Pain is demoralizing, and you're not alone.— sia (@Sia) October 4, 2019
The U.S. National Library of Medicine says that Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in its various forms affects at least one in 5,000 people across the world, and many go undiagnosed as its symptoms are mistaken for chronic pain. The condition is rooted in joints and tissue and some of its most notable symptoms include loose joints, very stretchy skin, abnormal scar formation, and hypermobility in the joints. EDS patients are more prone to injury and long-term pain. While it can be treated in various ways, there is no cure for the condition itself but it does not impact one’s life expectancy.
If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the British charity Ehlers-Danlos Support UK.
Header Image Source: Getty Images.