Lena Dunham had a terrible case of coronavirus: ‘I had never felt this way’

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My Covid Story

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

Lena Dunham has not been completely quiet this year, but she has been quieter than usual. Sure, she told an unhinged story about how Brad Pitt loves her. Sure, she said vague words about Black Lives Matter. Sure, she completely lied about doing poppers and eating a cheesecake. But all in all, Lena has spent much of 2020 away from the cameras and away from drama. I thought that perhaps Lena had grown up a tad and decided to take it down several notches on her own. Nope. Turns out, Lena actually had the coronavirus and (obviously) she was not asymptomatic. She was apparently sick as a dog for months.

Add Lena Dunham to the growing list of celebrities who have contracted COVID-19. The Girls creator and star shared on Instagram that she contracted the virus in mid-March. Her “Covid Story,” as she called it, detailed her experience as someone who suffers from a host of chronic illnesses. Dunham claimed her symptoms early in the disease included “crushing fatigue,” as well as achy joints and a high fever.

“Seeing the carelessness with which so many in the United States are treating social distancing … I feel compelled to be honest about the impact this illness has had on me, in the hopes that personal stories allow us to see the humanity in what can feel like abstract situations,” she wrote. “Suddenly my body simply … revolted. The nerves in my feet burned and muscles wouldn’t seem to do their job. My hands were numb. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises. I couldn’t sleep but I couldn’t wake up. I lost my sense of taste and smell. A hacking cough, like a metronome keeping time. Inability to breathe after simple tasks like getting a glass of water. Random red rashes. A pounding headache right between my eyes. It felt like I was a complex machine that had been unplugged and then had my wires rerouted into the wrong inputs. This went on for 21 days … that blended together like a rave gone wrong.”

Dunham self-isolated and doted on attention from her doctor. After a month, she tested negative, but still has lingering symptoms of the virus, including arthritis, swollen hands and feet, and a constant migraine.

“Even as a chronically ill person, I had never felt this way,” she wrote. “To be clear, I did NOT have these particular issues before I got sick with this virus and doctors don’t yet know enough to tell me why exactly my body responded this way or what my recovery will look like. I know I am lucky; I have amazing friends and family, exceptional healthcare and a flexible job where I can ask for the support I need to perform. … BUT not everybody has such luck, and I am posting this because of those people. I wish I could hug them all.”

[From Deadline]

I’ve read the first-person essays and tweet-threads and heard the first-person accounts of what the virus is like in its most extreme cases and Lena’s symptoms sound dead-on, especially the gasping for breath, the fog, the loss of smell and taste and the fact that it doesn’t actually go away after a month, that there are still weird and horrible symptoms for weeks and months after the first wave of the virus is gone. Anyway, I feel sorry for Lena, just as I feel sorry for everyone who has had the virus or is still dealing with symptoms. That being said, it does not surprise me in the least that Lena’s first-person narrative makes it sound like she’s had the worst case ever. That is, as they say, entirely on-brand.

Lena Dunham

Photos courtesy of Backgrid, IG.

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51 Responses to “Lena Dunham had a terrible case of coronavirus: ‘I had never felt this way’”

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  1. JEM says:

    Knowing how ill she was does nothing to diminish how much I can’t stand her. Does that say more about her or me?

    • Astrid says:


    • Lady D says:

      I’m going to need the answer to @JEM’s question too. I can’t stand her, and probably never will. I don’t think she’s redeemable.
      Someone just pointed out to me that I completely changed my opinion on Arianna Grande, re: disgusting doughnut-licker stepped up and became someone to really admire after the terrifying bombing at her Manchester concert, especially given her age. I still don’t think I’ll ever change my mind on Lena.

    • Flying Fish says:


  2. Valiantly Varnished says:

    Is it wrong that I rolled my eyes a bit while reading this? Lena is a prime example of the boy who cried wolf. She is so pathological in her need to exaggerate that I find myself taking everything she says with a grain of salt. I don’t doubt that she has the virus. But I also know what a drama queen she is.

  3. lola says:

    Oooh, is that the ring Pitt gave her?!:P

    Reading the experience from Covid patients always terrifies me. And as someone suffering from migraines, having constant ones sounds like hell.
    But I do take everything she says with a grain of salt since she tends to exaggerate, but I’m not saying that she didn’t have Covid.

  4. Case says:

    My reaction to this headline was “of course she did.” Lol.

    I’m sorry she went through this, though. The symptoms of the virus and side effects after the virus has run its course are so very strange and different for every person. It’s scary. There’s still so much we don’t know.

    • Leigh says:


    • K says:

      Me too. I was like, “Of course she got it, she seems to ‘suffer from’ everything in the book and can’t wait to tell everyone.” But I feel bad because at least she’s using her fame to ask people to take Covid seriously and wear masks. I’m going to blame my insensitivity on having a couple hypochondriac/histrionic narcissists in the family. They really wear down your sympathy.

    • Kebbie says:

      This was my exact reaction too. A big eye roll and I thought “of course she had covid and is now telling everyone about how much she suffered.”

      Her claiming she is only telling her story to encourage people to wear masks made me laugh. Like she doesn’t constantly yap on about everything that has ever happened to her.

    • fishface says:

      No sympathy. Guess that makes me a horrible person.

  5. Danielle says:

    I still don’t entirely buy it.

    When I first heard this claim of LD having the virus, I thought how very off-brand it is for her to wait so long to tell us all about it. After all, she looooooves discussing her ailments. (She caught it in March and held her tongue until July? Such restraint!)

    However, it’s completely on-brand for LD to make up that she had the virus just so she can milk attention and sympathy. That’s 100% believable.

    • lucy2 says:

      I hate to say it but that was my first thought too. Mainly because I’m SHOCKED it would take her 4 months to talk about it.
      If she did have it, I hope she recovers fully. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!

    • SamC says:

      Same here.

    • Emily says:

      So true. When I read the headline my first thought was, “oh of course she had coronavirus and of course she needed to write an overwrought essay about it.”

      Just glad she didn’t drag her breakup with Jack Antanoff into it. Because that was a painful read.

  6. Kitten says:

    “It was the worstest of the worst EVER because ME look at ME pay attention to ME.”

    — Lena Dunham, completely on brand, giving Millennials a bad name one sound byte at a time, at every given opportunity.

    • Giddy says:

      YES! Lena has always reminded me of my dramatic sister, who has the worst case of everything on record. A few years ago I had a hysterectomy. My sister had one two years previously. So, the night of the surgery when I was feeling pretty rough, she called my room. I thought maybe she was concerned for me, but no. She called to tell me that obviously her hysterectomy had been much worse than mine. As I lay there in pain she claimed that her surgery was so serious, and that the doctors, nurses, the whole staff had been aghast at how Very serious it was. I finally hung up on her, and she still won’t speak to me. It’s funny because she thinks that she is punishing me, but I it has been lovely! This is Lena. Did she actually think that anyone missed her?

  7. Quincytoo says:

    I was waiting for this
    Sorry she had it but again it’s all about her
    She never fails to fail

  8. Intheknow says:

    She is so very repulsive and I am trying to think if there is anything that could happen to her that would make me feel sorry for her…..

  9. You Must Be Joking says:

    Thoughts and prayers.

  10. grabbyhands says:

    It was the most viruse-y virus strain that anyone has ever virused!

  11. Lululu says:

    I had it in March and was quite sick, and I still find her description annoying. Also just…not the words I would use to describe it. My reaction to her description was, in a word, “Huh?”

    • lola says:

      I’m glad you’re better now!:)

      You may not describe it like that, but are you an incredibly talented writer genius who is wise beyond her years and loved by Brad Pitt?!

    • Phuggi says:

      Why, wasn’t it like a rave gone wrong for YOU? Tsk, you just lack her poetic outlook on the world


  12. lobstah says:

    Of course she has to find a way to insert herself into this.

  13. Whiskey Juliet says:

    I never comment, but in seeing this ridiculous person, I can’t stand it. She’s a piece of work. No one can out-sick her or out do her…in anything. In her mind, she has the worst of EVERYTHING. And she looks like she’s wearing some panties from Frederick’s of Hollywood for a mask. I can’t!

  14. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Tell it to the Muppets who died in the making of that dress.

    I feel for anyone suffering any part of this nightmare. And I admit I’ve never wanted anyone to suffer, ever…before. Fecal nightmare in charge and his sharted enablers and minions have changed me. Suffering appears to be a necessary learning experience.

  15. TD says:

    All I’m going to say is that when she said she was never hospitalized and had a private doctor made me pause a little bit….

  16. Amelie says:

    We know she suffers from endometriosis right? She’s had to go to the hospital to be treated a few times. People with underlying issues tend to get hit the hardest. Does endometriosis make you immunocompromised??? I have no idea, just spitballing.

    • carmen says:

      Yes, I was wondering about the chronic illnesses she has too and assumed that she was referring to something that would have predisposed her to complications from COVID — heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.

  17. Faye G says:

    I feel bad for her but… she still sucks.

  18. Deanne says:

    “Me too, but more.” Lena Dunham about absolutely everything.

    • AMA1977 says:

      This comment just gave me such a light-bulb moment!! That’s exactly why I cannot stand my sister-in-law (not really, she’s a nice person and she makes my brother happy, but shes SO EXTRA…) It’s because she is “Me too, but more” about EVERYTHING. She’s the busiest. She’s the most capable. When life has a hiccup, it’s THE WORST, but never fear, because she’s the MOST RESILIENT!! And she really thinks the world cares, so everything goes on SM.

      Anyway, Lena is trash and annoying AF and doesn’t get the benefit of my obligatory good-will for making my brother happy, soooo…I’m glad she’s better and she can go back to being quiet now.

    • Meg says:

      Reminds me of Trump in a way, whatever the conversation is ‘i did more for this I’m the most!’ every topic is a competition for narcissists to win

  19. pamspam says:

    I might be the only person on here who doesn’t despise her, and I’m not even sure why that is. I mean, your reasons are all totally valid and I probably should…but for some reason, she just doesn’t grate on me. And don’t hate me, but I kinda liked Girls – which, again, not sure why haha. But I make up for this by disliking a lot of popular shows/people haha.

  20. Casey says:

    You guys are jerks. She cannot do right by you.

    • AmandaS says:

      So the last few weeks I have been watching “Travel Man” on Hulu, where Richard Ayoade and a guest go on a mini-break weekend to some exotic location (show is awesome. highly recommend!). I came to the Lena Dunham episode this weekend and thought about skipping it b/c, in general, she makes me eye-roll, but I watched it (they went to Tenerife) and dang it if I didn’t find her kind of charming. (Maybe the quarantine has gotten to me? Also it was from 2016 so maybe she’s worse now? possibly both of those things). I don’t post much but am an avid reader so just wanted to throw out another view!

    • Ange says:

      Yeah I dunno, I tend to not often side with people who defend rapists but that’s just me.

  21. vesper says:

    FFS of course she got the virus!
    Can we just agree to not cover anything this loser ever says or does, ever again?? Okay,thanks!

  22. Coz' says:

    I mean you can dispise her but still feel sorry she got Covid and suffered. And I am not surprised by the symptoms and pain she described. Covid 19 can be terrible on your organism even if you don’t get hospitalized.
    We need more testimony like hers so people understand that this virus is not just a flue.
    We don’t always need to put the bitchy in celebitchy.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Agreed, and I think it’s very important for people with a platform to share as loudly and as often as possible that this virus is to be taken seriously. Obviously Lena is a self-absorbed jerk, but this disease genuinely is horrific.

  23. Emma33 says:

    That’s the first time I’ve read of someone’s account of having the virus and NOT felt sorry for them. She writes like an overwrought 12-year-old.

  24. Suzieq359 says:

    She lies so much I don’t believe her. And I wouldn’t call it a terrible case. It sounds like a very common experience. It could have been bad but she’s like the boy who cried wolf so it’s hard to sympathize with her.

  25. Liz version 700 says:

    Has it ever occurred to her that she could have an illness thatvshe didn’t share every detail of?

  26. Katherine says:

    I appreciate her sharing. People are very careless about covid at this point. I’ve read a lot about the disease and how it affects the blood vessels and the heart, and some even suggested calling it a vessel/vascular disease first as it affects the vessels first and all the symptoms are just variations of vessel issues manifested in a variety of ways in different people. I’m sorry anyone has to go through that and very envious of countries like Iceland who have managed to keep the tracking at such a level that people can go on with their normal lives (i.e. without masks and social distancing). I just wish more people took this seriously and educated themselves and we’d have so much less suffering(

  27. BlueCrystal says:

    I don’t know much about her and I have never watched her in anything. I have heard of her and it seems like she gets under people’s skin. But the description of the symptoms she has been been through and continues to have, sound horrific and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. She may have mental issues that make her appear obnoxious or some kind of personality disorder. The whole thing scares the bejeebies out of me. I live in Florida, not the southern part, where most of the cases seem to be the most present. I read that people who have the Blood Type O are better able to fight the COVID 19 virus. I’m a Type O and that somehow comforts me. I’m not sure what the scientific reason is for it, but I just read about some studies and every blood type has a different reaction. Of course, I don’t think it’s entirely accurate. I just hope that they find a cure or vaccine for it. There’s also the possibility that we’ll be wearing masks for years to come. I’ve lived through a lot of this country’s disasters. I was like the kids on “Wonder Years” growing up with the Vietnam War on the news every night, until I basically grew numb towards it. All of the wars and recessions and even 9/11, hasn’t affected me as much as this virus. I start thinking about conspiracies and wondering if this is the beginning of biological warfare. I worry about my daughter who is in college. Thank goodness for the fact that most of her classes are online. I guess we’re going to become prepared for a new, new normal. I watched a movie on YouTube called “Killbird” that really made me think about our government and what goes on behind the scenes that we will never see, and I am a left wing liberal Democrat, not a right wing conspiracy theorist. You should check it out and see what you think of it. Stay masked and sanitized. And six feet apart.