Actress Emilia Clarke has earned praise for her performance as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO's Game of Thrones, a role she has been playing since 2011. In a recent article written for The New Yorker, Clarke revealed the immense struggle behind her on-screen performance, beginning with an aneurysm that struck during a gym session while she was preparing for the first season of Game of Thrones.
The actress described collapsing in the gym bathroom due to blinding pain and having to undergo surgery for what doctors diagnosed as a "subarachnoid hemorrhage," an often lethal type of stroke.
"I would have to have urgent surgery," Clarke wrote, "and, even then, there were no guarantees."
The surgery saved her life, but left her with a case of aphasia for a week, leaving Clarke unable to utter her own name or articulate herself. Several weeks after recovering, the actress returned to the Game of Thrones set.
"I told my bosses at Thrones about my condition, but I didn't want it to be a subject of public discussion and dissection" she revealed.
The actress continued filming, fully aware that she could suffer another stroke at any time. Finally, in 2013, Clarke underwent surgery a second time. Unfortunately, this time it failed.
"I had a massive bleed and the doctors made it plain that my chances of surviving were precarious if they didn’t operate again," she explained. "This time they needed to access my brain in the old-fashioned way -- through my skull."
Even after leaving the hospital, Clarke was plagued by the physical and emotional trauma of suffering multiple aneurysms. According to her piece, the actress revealed that she constantly felt anxiety, fear and panic, even during public appearances.
Although Clarke wished to reveal her story, she made it a point to remind readers that there were others who suffered like her and emerged far less fortunate.
"I am hardly unique, hardly alone," said Clarke. "Countless people have suffered far worse, and with nothing like the care I was so lucky to receive."
The Game of Thrones actress linked to The New Yorker article on Instagram, where she announced that her charity, Same You, had gone live. The organization aims to increase access to rehabilitation for those who have suffered brain injuries and strokes.