The Girls star and creator revealed she fell ill with Covid-19 in mid-March, telling of how her body “simply revolted” after contracting the virus.
The US actor explained how she suffers from a chronic disease that affects the joints and skin, and said she was initially unable to distinguish the pain from her existing illness.
However, Lena said the pain was soon joined by an “impossible, crushing fatigue”, as well as a fever.
“Suddenly my body simply… revolted,” she wrote in a lengthy post on Instagram. “The nerves in my feet burned and muscles wouldn’t seem to do their job. My hands were numb. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises.
“I couldn’t sleep but I couldn’t wake up. I lost my sense of taste and smell. A hacking cough, like a metronome keeping time. Inability to breathe after simple tasks like getting a glass of water. Random red rashes.
“A pounding headache right between my eyes. It felt like I was a complex machine that had been unplugged and then had my wires rerouted into the wrong inputs. This went on for 21 days … that blended together like a rave gone wrong.”
Lena said she was fortunate to have a doctor on hand to offer regular advice, meaning she never had to go to hospital. She was forced to isolate, describing the experience as intensely lonely.
After a month, Lena said she tested negative for Covid-19 but the symptoms did not fade.
Her hands and feet were swollen, she suffered from severe fatigue and a constant migraine. Her arthritis flared and she had “weirder symptoms that I’ll keep to myself”.
Lena said she had been reluctant to speak out and did not want to “unnecessarily add my voice to a noisy landscape on such a challenging topic”, but felt compelled to do so after “seeing the carelessness with which so many in the United States are treating social distancing, jogging without masks and parties on Instagram”.
She also urged people to “take the appropriate measures to protect yourself and your neighbours”.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.