Lena Dunham has been a divisive figure for the majority of her career, but this week, the Girls creator revealed that she shares something in common with tens of millions of Americans from all walks of life and all regions of the country.
In an interview with actor Dax Shepard, Dunham revealed that she has struggled with prescription pill addiction for several years.
“I was having crazy anxiety and having to show up for things that I didn’t feel equipped to show up for … but I know I need to do it, and when I take a Klonopin, I can do it,” Dunham said on the latest episode of Shepard’s podcast.
“I didn’t have any trouble getting a doctor to tell me, ‘No, you’ve got serious anxiety issues, you should be taking this. This is how you should be existing,’” Dunham continued.
“It stopped being, ‘I take one when I fly,’ and it started being like, ‘I take one when I’m awake.’”
Dunham attributes her acute anxiety to trauma stemming from sexual assault and health issues:
“I was diagnosed with pretty serious PTSD,” Lena said.
“I have a few sexual traumas in my past and then I had all these surgeries and then I had my hysterectomy after a period of really extreme pain … It stopped feeling like I had panic attacks and it started feeling like I was a living panic attack.”
These days, it often seems that public figures only open up about substance abuse issues when they’re forced to following some sort of PR disaster, so we commend Lena for opening up of her own volition.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Dunham will be penning a screenplay for a J.J. Abrams-Steven Spielberg film about a family of Syrian refugees.
On social media, many were critical of the decision to hire Dunham for such a project, arguing that there’s no way someone in her position can relate to the plight of Syrians driven from their homeland by war.
But perhaps Abrams, Spielberg, and company knew what the rest of us did not — that Dunham is a survivor of a different variety, and with sufficient compassion, she may be able to channel her painful past in a creatively productive way.
Only time will tell, of course.
But for now, we applaud Dunham for being candid about such a topic that affects so many, yet is so rarely addressed.