Lena Dunham began seeing a therapist at the age of nine to tackle symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
The Girls actress reveals her battle with the anxiety disorder in an excerpt from her new memoir Not That Kind of Girl which was published in The New Yorker this week (beg25Aug14).
Dunham admits she was "afraid of everything" while growing up and lived in fear of catching a life-threatening illness. She adds, "The germophobia morphs into hypochondria morphs into sexual anxiety morphs into the pain and angst that accompany entry into middle school."
Her parents, who both had therapists of their own, sent her to sessions at the age of nine and she later discovered the reason behind her anxiety.
Dunham writes, "Sitting with my mother in the beauty salon one afternoon, I come across an article about obsessive-compulsive disorder. A woman describes her life, so burdened with obsessions that she has to lick art in museums and crawl on the sidewalk. Her symptoms aren't much worse than mine: the magazine's description of her most horrible day parallels my average one. I tear the article out and bring it to (my therapist), whose face crumples sympathetically, as though the moment she'd been dreading had finally arrived..."
The actress/director goes on to explain she has learned to cope with her condition over the years, but adds, "My O.C.D. isn't completely gone, but maybe it never will be. Maybe it's part of who I am, part of what I have to manage, the challenge of my life."
Hannah, Dunham's character in Girls, also suffers from the disorder. The memoir will be released on 30 September (14).