Shepard, who has struggled with both addiction and anxiety, guessed that the actress was taking benzodiazepines (also known as benzos) as she is also an anxiety sufferer.
“You’ve hit the nail on the head. My particular passion was Klonopin,” Dunham said. The “Girls” star said she began taking them to deal with anxiety and realized that they helped make her “feel like the person I was supposed to be.”
“I was diagnosed with pretty serious PTSD. I have a few sexual traumas in my past, and then I had all these surgeries, and then I had my hysterectomy after a period of really extreme pain,” the 32-year-old said. “It stopped feeling like I had panic attacks and it started feeling like I was a living panic attack.”
Over time, the actress and director began taking the pills more and more, and doctors continued to prescribe it for her.
“There were a solid three years where I was ― to put it lightly ― misusing benzos, even though it was all quote unquote ‘doctor prescribed,’” she said, adding that no one told her how hard it would to stop taking the medicine.
“Nobody I know who is prescribed these medications is told, ‘By the way, when you try and get off this, it’s going to be like the most hellacious acid trip you’ve ever had where you’re fucking clutching the walls and the hair is blowing off your head and you can’t believe you found yourself in this situation,’” she said.
But now, “the literal smell of the inside of pill bottles makes me want to throw up,” Dunham added.
Shepard has been candid about his own struggles with both drug and alcohol addiction.
“I just loved to get fucked up ― drinking, cocaine, opiates, marijuana, diet pills, pain pills, everything,” he told Playboy back in 2012. “Mostly my love was Jack Daniel’s and cocaine. I lived for going down the rabbit hole of meeting weird people. Of course, come Monday I would be tallying up all the different situations, and each one was progressively more dangerous. I got lucky in that I didn’t go to jail.”
Listen to more of Shepard and Dunham’s interview here.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.