Selma Blair has opened up about her battle with multiple sclerosis (MS) in her first television interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts.
Blair described the moment she learned about her diagnosis, saying, “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, and there was some relief in that.”
Blair told Roberts she was very happy to see her and tell her story.
“Being able to just put out what being in the middle of an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis is like. So my speech, as you’ll notice, I have spasmodic dysphonia right now … It is interesting to put it out there, to be here to say this is what my particular case looks like right now.”
“Ever since my son was born, I was in an MS flare-up and didn’t know, and I was giving it everything to seem normal,” Blair said. “And I was self-medicating when he wasn’t with me. 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 gonna get by in life?’” Blair said, who is now sober. “And not taken seriously by doctors: Just, single mother, you’re exhausted, financial burden, blah blah blah.”
She said that telling her seven-year-old son, Arthur Saint, was the most difficult part of it all.
“I did have to tell him after the MRI. I said, ‘I have something called multiple sclerosis,'” she shared.
Blair continued: “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.”
The Cruel Intentions actress said that she reached out to Canadian actor Michael J. Fox, who revealed his Parkinson’s disease diagnosis in 1998.
“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.”
Blair admitted that she was “a little scared of talking” during her MS flare-up.
“No one has the energy to talk when they’re in a flare-up. But I do because I love a camera,” she said with a hair flip and a laugh.
The Legally Blonde actress first shared her diagnosis in October in an Instagram post, writing, “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.”
It’s estimated that over 93,500 Canadians of all ages currently live with MS — an inflammatory neurological disease of the central nervous system that impacts one’s brain, spinal cord and optic nerves — and the Public Health Agency of Canada anticipates that number to rise to 133,635 by 2031.
Canada is the country with the highest rate of MS in the world, Statistics Canada reports, and while there are theories as to why that is, the ultimate cause of MS remains a mystery.
MS has been described by patients and physicians as a “tailor-made disease,” meaning that while many can experience a common list of symptoms, it affects everyone differently and to varying degrees. Flare-ups of symptoms are known as attacks or exacerbations, and the severity and longevity of these attacks vary, lasting anywhere from days to months.
These symptoms manifest as a result of a process of several things happening within the body.
MS is also considered an invisible disease. This is because many of the symptoms experienced by patients are internal and are not always visible to outsiders.
— With files from Dani-Elle Dube