The moment Khloé Kardashian heard the news last October that her estranged husband Lamar Odom had been hospitalized following a near deadly overdose, the reality star rushed to his side, where she remained for over a month.
“Mentally, it took its toll,” Kardashian tells PEOPLE of the tragedy. “But it wasn’t about me. I realized how much it was about [Lamar] so I didn’t think twice about it.”
Still, long hours in a hospital room, coupled with the extreme emotions of the situation, weighed heavily on the reality star.
“Normally, when I’m going through stuff, I have my release of energy or stress at the gym,” says Kardashian, 31. “But I literally didn’t leave the room for a month. I wasn’t sleeping as well. I went a week without showering.”
Continues the star: “I was stuck in a room with my thoughts. My mind didn’t have that release. I was like, ‘I can’t breathe!’ ”
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But Kardashian, whose new show Kocktails with Khloé premieres Jan. 20, says she learned a valuable lesson from the painful situation. (Thankfully, Odom is continuing to recover and was recently transferred to a rehab facility).
“I had to switch gears,” says Kardashian. “I was like, ‘I know I’ll get back to the gym, I know I’ll get that release, but for now, what’s my therapy?’ ”
Continues the Strong Looks Better Naked author: “I had to remember that even though something tragic was going on, I still needed a few minutes. I was like, ‘Okay I need to take a shower.’ Just the little things make you feel so much better. I had to learn to [take care] of myself.”
Kocktails with Khloé premieres Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. ET on FYI.