Selma Blair has been open about her experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) ever since she shared her diagnosis in 2018, and that hasn’t changed now that the actress’s disease has gone into remission. In a new interview with Today.com, the 51-year-old star and mom of one opened up about her continuing symptoms and her commitment to advocating for the disabled community.
One thing Blair clarified was that, while MS may be in remission, it doesn’t meant she’s symptom-free. When someone has MS, their immune system attacks the protective coating around nerve fibers, which creates “communication problems” between their brain and body, according to Mayo Clinic. That can cause permanent damage, nerve fiber deterioration, and wide-ranging symptoms that include difficulty walking, numbness, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and cognitive problems.
There’s no cure for MS, though patients might experience “long periods of remission” like Blair’s, during which no new symptoms crop up, Mayo Clinic notes. For Blair, that means she’s still dealing with fatigue and issues with speech, movement, and balance.
“I still have symptoms,” she explained. “I do not have the absolute weakness that I had for a long time, and if I focus on something really truly and I’m awake, I can correct it. But often, it just takes a lot of energy.” She has to concentrate to make sure her walking gait is smooth, for example, especially if she’s going from stationary to moving. “[I]f I’m uninterrupted for a while I can absolutely walk smoothly,” Blair said, but if she sits down and then starts moving again, she’ll have difficulty. “That is pretty standard all the time,” she said.
Some symptoms also worsen Blair is tired. She’ll have a harder time orienting her body in space, for example, and will experience dystonia, aka involuntary muscle contraction. Blair also deals with lack of appetite (she can only digest when she’s relaxed, “or else I’m kind of dry heaving”) and fatigue when she’s in the sunlight, due to the sun causing inflammation that triggers her symptoms — something Blair says is a common experience for those with autoimmune issues. (Research backs this up.)
Yet Blair doesn’t let her symptoms stand in the way of her advocacy and her determination to speak out about her condition. In particular, she wants to draw attention to the people struggling with MS and other chronic diseases who don’t have the same access to treatment that she does. “A lot of people aren’t getting the help and attention that they could,” the Legally Blonde star explained, adding, “You have to be a squeaky wheel to get what you want … There aren’t a lot of allies in the disabled community that are lucky enough to be on the platform that I have to bring things out.”
Blair also hopes to help other patients feel seen and supported. “When I’m talking about one of my issues that’s meant to cover a broader theme… of what it can do to feel supported in your community,” she explained.
As for her own health, it sounds like Blair is facing the effects of her disease head-on. “I don’t live in fear of this condition at all,” she said.
Before you go, read about more celebs who are sharing their battles with chronic illness:
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