Lena Dunham Reveals She Has Chronic Disease After Paparazzo Takes Photo Of Her Walking With A Cane

The 'Girls' creator pokes fun at her glam nightie as she gets real about her physical struggles.

Lena Dunham attends Friendly House 30th Annual Awards Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 26, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Jon Kopaloff / Getty Images

The 'Girls' creator pokes fun at her glam nightie as she gets real about her physical struggles.

Lena Dunham has revealed that she is suffering from a chronic disease. The Girls creator, 33, took to Instagram to post a paparazzo-snapped photo of her walking with a cane. In the caption, the actress revealed that she has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a rare, chronic neurological disorder that affects the skin, joints, and blood vessels.

In her post, Dunham thanked her cane as she noted that when she has an Ehlers-Danlos syndrome flareup, she needs literal support. The star, who has long been open about her medical struggles and issues with mental health, admitted that she resisted using a cane for years. However she reasoned that walking with the aid of the apparatus was less “weird” than not being able to live her life.

Dunham tagged the post “Prada” as she also confirmed that in the pic in question, she is wearing her most glamorous blue nightgown and gray slippers as she walks just a few feet to her car to go to a doctor’s appointment. She joked that even Justin Bieber wears hotel slippers in public, but that she can rock a business look an hour later as she lives the “two-fold life of a woman with chronic illness.”

Dunham’s post received plenty of love from her 2.9 million Instagram followers. Fans and famous friends hit the comments section to thank the star for her honesty, including Modern Family star Sarah Hyland, who has been open about her own health issues over the years.

“Your authenticity and light is exactly what this world needs! Shine on!” one follower wrote to Dunham.

“Thank you so much for sharing this!” another added. “You’re helping me and others a lot who struggle with mental health and body issues. So, in conclusion, my day went pretty fine by seeing this!”

“You are changing the world. Already have once,” a third fan chimed in. “Thank you from your/our tribe of what all of us actually look like.”

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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!

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Dunham has made headlines for her health issues in the past. Last year, the HBO star wrote an essay for Vogue in which she detailed her struggles with endometriosis and her decision to get a hysterectomy when she was 31-years-old.

Dunham also shared an Instagram photo of herself lying in a hospital bed and baring her belly after having her left ovary removed last October. In the caption to her post, Dunham said she was on a mission to advocate for those “who live at the cross section of physical and physic pain” and to remind women “that our stories don’t have to look one way.”