"When I looked in the mirror, I just saw pain in my eyes."

By Christina Oehler
Updated: May 10, 2019

Even the mother of dragons has insecurities. Despite her breathtaking beauty, Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke just revealed that the brain aneurysm she had in her 20s seriously hurt her self-esteem. 

In 2011, Clarke suffered two brain aneurysms shortly after filming the first season of GoT. She wrote in an essay in the New Yorker that she was diagnosed with a subarachnoid hemorrhage—a type of stroke that causes bleeding in the area surrounding the brain. 

The actress underwent surgery to treat the hemorrhage, but the aftermath was anything but easy. In a recent interview with Stylist, Clarke shared that the medications she took changed her appearance and made her feel ugly. 

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“I was so full of drugs from being in the hospital that I had a lot of water retention, and one half of my face was quite swollen,” the 32-year-old said in the interview. “I felt so deeply unattractive. What I can see now is that I could see the pain behind my eyes. And no amount of anything can cover that.”

Clarke told Stylist that it took a while for her to regain her confidence after the incident, but ultimately, she found her inner beauty. 

“[Now] I always err on the side of wearing less makeup,” Clarke said. “My face didn’t change, but my feelings about myself changed.”

She added, “When you can look at yourself in the eyes and feel OK with what’s looking back at you, then what more do you need?”

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