Lena Dunham is both physically and emotionally on the mend.
Just over a month after PEOPLE confirmed that the former Girls actress had split from her boyfriend of five years, Jack Antonoff, in January, she revealed in a harrowing essay published in the March issue of Vogue that she underwent a total hysterectomy last year.
In an Instagram post shared Friday, Dunham, 31, addressed the procedure and the outpour of “overwhelming” and “heartening” support that she’s received from fans.
“Your body failing you is a loss that’s hard to explain and yet the amount of messages I’ve gotten from women in a similar predicament has been so overwhelming, loving and heartening,” she captioned a photo of herself sitting on a hospital bed. “More than 60 million women in America are living with hysterectomies and those of you who’ve shared your plight and perseverance make me feel so honored to be in your company.”
“Thank you to the village of women who took care of me through this entire process,” she continued.
Dunham also shared: “I have a broken heart and I hear those don’t mend overnight, but we are linked forever by this experience and our refusal to let it hold any of us back from even the grandest dreams.”
In her Vogue piece, Dunham chronicled the hysterectomy process from start to finish, explaining that she made the decision in the hopes of ending her crippling endometriosis-related pain. After “desperately” trying to manage a “new level of pain” from August to November, Dunham said she finally checked herself into the hospital and refused to leave “until they stop this pain or take my uterus.”
“My family just wants to see me happy again,” she recalled. “They are, for the first time after all my shenanigans, truly scared, and my father checks my breath as I sleep, leaning close to my chest. I apologize weakly for what they are witnessing — someone who hurts too much to express themselves, who can’t help but be a nuisance at best and a terror at worst.”
Though Antonoff, 33, was also supportive, Dunham said the situation wasn’t easy on the former couple.
“My beautiful partner, who has seen me through so much pain with compassion and care, has to be away for work, and I can feel us growing slowly apart, since life is so determined to display its full complexity right now,” she said. “I am surly and distant. I offer nothing.”
“He reminds me again and again that I am still a woman and still alive,” she continued. “But I also know that soon — for so many reasons that have nothing to do with my uterus — we’ll slip away from each other and I will face everything I am losing in impossibly tiny step.”
Days after PEOPLE confirmed Dunham and Antonoff’s split, she briefly addressed the breakup during a livestream on Instagram, revealing that she was still wearing a ring that Antonoff had given her.
“I’ll always wear it because love is a really cool, powerful, eternal thing,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be defined the way that we, in Western culture, define it as beginnings and ends.”