Life on Game of Thrones isn’t easy for anyone but what Emilia Clarke just went through in real life sounds far more harrowing. In a new essay for The New Yorker, Clarke revealed publicly for the first time her health struggles during the early days of the show.
In the essay, Clarke writes about undergoing multiple brain surgeries in the wake of two aneurysms she suffered during breaks from GOT. She describes a distressing experience continuing to film the show and go on press tours despite the intense emotional and physical pain. At one point after surgery, she couldn’t remember her full name and often feared for her life.
“Staying at a hotel in London during a publicity tour, I vividly remember thinking, I can’t keep up or think or breathe, much less try to be charming,” Clarke writes. “I sipped on morphine in between interviews. The pain was there, and the fatigue was like the worst exhaustion I’d ever experienced, multiplied by a million.”
Clarke’s surgeries were not easy. In the aftermath of her second surgery, she “emerged from the operation with a drain coming out of my head,” and titanium on her skull, with a “constant worry about cognitive or sensory losses. Would it be concentration? Memory? Peripheral vision? Now I tell people that what it robbed me of is good taste in men. But, of course, none of this seemed remotely funny at the time.”
Thankfully, Clarke says she’s “at a hundred percent” now, and helped develop a charity that helps people who are recovering from brain injuries and strokes. Read her entire account of her experience in The New Yorker here.
Read Vulture’s guide to every Game of Thrones season, recapped and explained.