Sharon Stone

was penniless after her near-fatal stroke.


Basic Instinct

actress — who has sons Roan, 23, Laird, 18, and Quinn, 17 — suffered a stroke back in 2001, brought on by a brain hemorrhage that resulted in a nine-day brain bleed and saw her die briefly and came back to life, and she has now revealed that she was

relying on her credit cards to survive


She told Australia's


magazine: "I was down to nothing. I had to pay the kids' school on my credit card and hope for the best. I just got on my knees and I was like, 'I need a sign... and could you make it big because I'm going to need something that I can't miss because I'm in a coma here. So like, help me out.'"

The 65-year-old actress says she is going through a near-death experience putting a stop to caring what other people think about her.

She said: "While I was recovering from my stroke, I reassessed everything.

I decided that I would never not be myself again.

And people could love me, hate me, like me, dislike me, judge me, do whatever they wanted. But take it or leave it, man. I feel free pretty much all the time."

Sharon hid her disability for years because

she thought "no one would accept" her


The movie star — best known for playing femme fatale roles in Hollywood — previously revealed that she was snubbed by the industry as the stroke

severely impaired her motor skills

and ability to remember lines.

The actress took a two-decade-long hiatus from acting while she was in recovery.

She told


: "I bled so much into my subarachnoid pool [head, neck and spine] that the right side of my face fell, my left foot was dragging severely, and I was stuttering very badly.

"For the first couple of years, I would also get these weird knuckle-like knots that would come up all over the top of my head that felt like I was getting punched. I can't express how painful it all was. I hid my disability and I was afraid to go out and didn't want people to know. I just thought no one would accept me."

She was forced to relearn how to walk and talk while fighting to regain custody of her eldest son — who was taken away from her after she was accused of having

Munchausen's syndrome


Sharon, who doesn't let her illness define her, added: "I think many people identify with their illness as 'I am this thing,' and it cannot be your identity.

"In my case, so much was taken from me. I lost custody of my child, I lost my career and was not able to work, I was going through a divorce and being put through the ringer, I lost so much, and I "I could have allowed that to define me. But you have to stand up and say, 'Okay, that happened, and now what? What am I made of?'"