Selma Blair Opens Up About MS Diagnosis

Andie Manahan

February 27, 2019

Selma Blair became a household name with her role on Cruel Intentions. She later starred in well-loved films like Legally Blonde and The Sweetest Thing, and kicked major butt in 2004’s Hellboy and it’s 2008 sequel. And she’s all set to kick butt in real life – determined to live her life to the fullest while living with a disease called multiple sclerosis.


She’s been suffering flair ups for years – ever since her 7-year-old son was born. But she didn’t know what it was that she was suffering from and she was “not taken seriously by doctors – just, ‘Single mother, you’re exhausted, financial burden, blah, blah, blah.'”


Finally, in August of 2018, she received a diagnosis – and later went public with her diagnosis on Instagram in October.



“I have #multiplesclerosis . I am in an exacerbation. By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix , I have a job. A wonderful job. I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken gps. But we are doing it . And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best,” she wrote in part in her caption.


“Since my diagnosis at ten thirty pm on The night of August 16, I have had love and support from my friends , especially @jaime_king @sarahmgellar @realfreddieprinze @tarasubkoff . My producers #noreenhalpern who assured me that everyone has something. #chrisregina #aaronmartin and every crew member… thank you,” she continued. “I am in the thick of it but I hope to give some hope to others. And even to myself.”


“You can’t get help unless you ask. It can be overwhelming in the beginning. You want to sleep. You always want to sleep,” she shared. “So I don’t have answers. You see, I want to sleep. But I am a forthcoming person and I want my life to be full somehow. I want to play with my son again. I want to walk down the street and ride my horse. I have MS and I am ok. But if you see me , dropping crap all over the street, feel free to help me pick it up. It takes a whole day for me alone. Thank you and may we all know good days amongst the challenges.”


“And the biggest thanks to @elizberkley who forced me to see her brother #drjasonberkley who gave me this diagnosis after finding lesions on that mri,” she added, revealing, “I have had symptoms for years but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of him trying to sort out what I thought was a pinched nerve. I have probably had this incurable disease for 15 years at least. And I am relieved to at least know. And share.”


Sunday night, she made an emotional return to the public eye, walking the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscars After Party. Selma looked stunning in a multi-colored flowy Ralph & Russo gown with a sweetheart neckline and a matching cape attached to her neck with a choker. She completed the look by rocking a bedazzled cane custom made by her friends. She shed tears of happiness after she triumphantly posed for the photographers, earning her cheers from the press line.


Prior to the event, she chatted with Robin Roberts and open up about her struggles with MS. The interview happened during a flare-up, and despite being nervous to go on camera, she wanted to “put out what being in the middle of an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis is like.” The interview aired on Tuesday (February 26).


“When I first got MS, I had no idea what it was or how it would affect me,” she began, speaking slowly and haltingly – it’s one of the symptoms of her particular case of the disease. She says she suffers from spasmodic dysphonia, a neurological disorder affecting the voice muscles in the larynx, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


“It is interesting to put it out there, to be here to say, ‘This is what my particular case looks like right now,'” Blair said.


According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple sclerosis is “a potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord.” Selma also shares, “It’s called the snowflake disease because it’s different like a fingerprint for everyone.”


Before her diagnosis, sometimes, the symptoms of her mysterious disease even prompted her to find ways to cope. “I was drinking. I was in pain. I wasn’t always drinking, but there were times when I couldn’t take it, and I was really struggling with, ‘How am I going get by in life?’” she recalled. “… I even got to the point where I said, ‘I need to go to work and I have to stay awake.’ I dropped my son off at school a mile away and before I got home I’d have to pull over and take a nap. And I was ashamed. And I was doing the best I could, and I was a great mother, but it was killing me.”


It came to the point where she sought out the help of fellow actor Michael J. Fox – who’s been struggling with Parkinson’s Disease for almost 30 years.


“I said, ‘I don’t know who to tell, but I am dropping things. I’m doing strange things,'” Blair said. “He got in touch with me and we began conversations. He really helped me … he gives me hope.”


And she hasn’t lost her sense of humor at all. “Plus I was like, ‘I have Michael J. Fox’s email now. Like, I’m pretty cool. I’m cooler than I thought,’” she quipped.

As for how she took the news of her disease, “I cried. I had tears. They weren’t tears of panic. They were tears of knowing I now had to give in to a body that had loss of control,” she said. “… I cried with some relief. Like, ‘Oh, good, I’ll be able to do something.'”


And sharing the news with her son, “He had already seen that I was falling and doing things and I was always laughing,” she explained. “And he’d imitate me and I’d be like, ‘That’s fine. But don’t do that out of the house. People will think you’re a jerk.'”


“I did have to tell him after the MRI. I said, ‘I have something called multiple sclerosis,’” she recalled. “And he almost cried and said, ‘Will it kill you?’ And I said, ‘No. I mean, we never know what kills us, Arthur, but this is not the doctor telling me I’m dying.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, OK,’ and that was it.”


There are good days and bad days. When the going gets really tough, “I get in bed and I don’t move,” she said. “You just have to. You can’t do it all.”


“It’s fine to feel really crappy and say, ‘I gotta,'” Blair said. “And my son gets it and now I’ve learned not to feel guilty.”


She credits “three of the dearest people” plus her son for inspiring her everyday.


“I never thought I’d have such riches and that I’d have to be so vulnerable and accepted,” she said.


Despite being “a little scared of talking” during her flare up at first, Selma ended the interview on a light note.


“No one has the energy to talk when they’re in … flare-up,” the actress said, adding, “But I do ’cause I love a camera.”