The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission.

Lena Dunham says she needs to be ‘cosy to survive’ living with chronic pain

‘Cosy is my religion’

Katie O'Malley
Friday 15 March 2019 13:42 GMT
Lena Dunham apologsises publicly for not believing a woman who accused one of her friends of sexual assault

Lena Dunham has spoken about the importance of feeling cosy amid suffering from chronic pain.

On Thursday, The New York Times published an article written by the actor and writer in which she opens up about how comfort has become integral to her existence.

In 2018, Dunham revealed that she had undergone a total hysterectomy – a procedure that surgically removes the cervix and uterus - following years of suffering from chronic pain as a result of endometriosis. Months later, she underwent additional surgery to remove her left ovary.

“Cosy is my religion,” she writes. “There are few things in life I take as seriously as the cultivation and preservation of comfort.”

While her friends and family previously attributed her love of cosyness to her penchant for organisation and even her star sign, Dunham explains: “I am cosy because I have to be. I am cosy to survive.”

Having undergone several surgeries and suffering from fibromyalgia, a long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, Dunham sheds light on what it is like to live in constant pain.

“Now, in adulthood, my body hurt too much for the theatre or the hip restaurant with wooden benches or even, sometimes, the embrace of someone I loved," she notes. "I could no longer define myself by what I liked to do for fun because the answer, it seemed, was nothing.”

The writer goes onto explain how the experience has inspired her to reach for a definition of cosy that would help her find peace with her physical and mental state.

“For those of us who live in chronic pain, basic definitions of cosy aren’t available,” she notes.

“We can’t get hygge when our hips sting and our ankles give. We aren’t healed by exfoliating gloves or fireplaces. Our ability to enjoy the cosy patter of a routine is not a given, since waking up is also an assessment: Who am I today? What am I good for? (The same could be said of the depressed, the anxious, the financially unstable, the addicted or the lonely.)”

Lena Dunham attends Lincoln Center's American Songbook Gala at Alice Tully Hall on 29 May 2018

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the term "cosy" is to give a "feeling of comfort, warmth, and relaxation". However, in the article, Dunham says that her definition of the word is similar to that of author Isabel Gillies in her book "Cozy" which she surmises to mean: "'How do I have to frame this in order to keep going?'"

In the piece, the 32-year-old admits she became obsessed with cosyness as a child but it wasn’t until she met her ex-boyfriend’s mother, Shira, that she fully embraced the meaning of the word “cosy”.

“She understands, in some powerful way, that cosyness has very little to do with your cashmere and your candle and everything to do with the sense of community that we derive from the shared pursuit of staying safe,” she adds.

The actor’s article has been praised by fans on Twitter.

“You nailed it for many of us,” wrote one user. “Glad you have some loving folks in your cosy corner of the world.”

Another added: “Beautiful article. Lena. I can totally relate to this - different health issues but chronic discomfort all the same- and it becomes challenging just to BE in the world.”

According to the charity Arthritis Research UK, one person in every 25 may be affected by fibromyalgia.

The symptoms for the condition, which include fatigue, chronic pain, and spasms, can be very similar to inflammatory or degenerative arthritis. However, the conditions are not linked.

There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, however, it can be managed through treatment, depending on a patient’s symptoms.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in