On screen, Emilia Clarke was a fierce warrior who conquered many things, but off-screen she was fighting her own battle, and we had no idea.

This long-form piece, A Battle For My Life is written by Emilia Clark, an actress that I was introduced to as Daenerys Targaryen on HBO’s Game of Thrones. She speaks out about her untold health complications that struck directly after filming her first season of GOT. If you were to tell me that she suffered serious health complications while tackling intense filming and being in the public eye for the first time, I wouldn’t have believed you. Clarke brings her friendly and humorous personality into this piece. She is able to talk about her serious health complications while still making me chuckle.

Her word choice is simple, but it’s this element that really draws me to her story. This ties to her being aware of her audience. While she rarely speaks directly to us as the reader, it’s apparent she’s considered things from our point of view. While her medical journey is complicated and probably filled with many technical terms that anyone shy of a brain surgeon would understand, she still manages to tell me exactly what happens in digestible sentences that leave no room for confusion. As someone who is the furthest thing from a doctor, I am able to grasp a good understanding of her condition. For example, she does a great job here of breaking down exactly what had happened to her.

Finally, I was sent for an MRI, a brain scan. The diagnosis was quick and ominous: a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke, caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain. I’d had an aneurysm, an arterial rupture. As I later learned, about a third of SAH patients die immediately or soon thereafter. For the patients who do survive, urgent treatment is required to seal off the aneurysm, as there is a very high risk of a second, often fatal bleed. If I was to live and avoid terrible deficits, I would have to have urgent surgery. And, even then, there were no guarantees.

Clarke’s essence has come alive in her roles in television, movies, and press circuits. I know her well as a bubbly, slightly awkward and warm person. In her piece, I can really hear that voice everyone knows and loves. She does a great job of transferring her on-screen personality onto paper. In this light-hearted section, she talks about the night she sealed the deal on her role of Daenerys Targaryen.

I could hardly catch my breath. I went back to the hotel, where some people invited me to a party on the roof. “I think I’m good!” I told them. Instead, I went to my room, ate Oreos, watched “Friends,” and called everyone I knew.

The flow of the piece is interesting. She begins with the scene of the crime, telling the tale of her first aneurism. It’s a shock to the system, grabbing my attention with violent vocabulary and gritty details. From here, she travels back in time and lets us in on her humble beginnings. She takes the reader on a journey through her career, leaving out no bumps in the road. This vulnerability helps really break down a wall between her and us, the reader, building a sort of trust. This element gives us a reason to read on. By grabbing us in the beginning and then continuing that raw emotion to the end, the piece reads almost as a diary entry, where we feels as though we’re getting in on her deepest and darkest secrets.

Overall, this is a great example of an online long form piece. From the first paragraph to the last, I was fully invested. It teeters between a serious and light-hearted tone and she finds a good balance that makes the piece easy to read. Her awareness of the audience cuts out all the fancy jargon and tells her story in simple terms, breaking it down to a level understandable for everyone.

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