Selma Blair, who got her big break in the 1999 cult film “Cruel Intentions” and later starred in the “Hell Boy” film series, spent years self-medicating with alcohol and other drugs until she discovered last year that she is suffering from multiple sclerosis.
The 46-year-old actress made her first appearance since being diagnosed at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in Beverly Hills, Sunday (Feb. 24). She used a cane to walk and support herself.
Selma Blair has been out of the spotlight for months. MS affects the central nervous system, disrupting the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and body.
She announced her diagnosis in an Instagram post. She wrote:
“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.” Her goal: “I am in the thick of it but I hope to give some hope to others. And even to myself.”
Her diagnosis actually came as a “relief,” she says. She struggled to convince doctors that her symptoms were serious.
The symptoms typically flare up periodically and vary, not only between people, but also throughout one person’s life. That makes it hard for doctors to diagnose someone with the condition.
“I was self-medicating, I was drinking, I was in pain. I wasn’t always drinking, but there were times when I couldn’t take it,” she said on ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA). “There were times when I was really struggling with how I’m going to get by in life not being taken seriously by doctors.
Selma Blair has seven-year-old son, Arthur, with her ex-husband, fashion designer Jason Bleick.
“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 … it was killing me. And so when I got the diagnosis, I cried with relief,” she said.
“I had tears. They weren’t tears of panic, they were tears of knowing that I now had to give in to a body that had loss of control and there was some relief in that. No one has the energy to talk when they’re in a flare-up, but I do because I love a camera.”
Multiple sclerosis is a long-lasting disease that can affect brain, spinal cord and the optic nerves. It can cause problems with vision, balance, muscle control and other basic body functions, according to medical references.
The symptoms are often different for those who has the disease. Some people have mild symptoms and don’t need treatment. Others will have trouble getting around and doing daily tasks.
Selma Blair says she has an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis. “So my speech, I have spasmodic dysphonia right now … It is interesting to be here to say this is what my particular case looks like right now,” she told host…
Spasmodic dysphonia is a neurological disorder affecting the voice muscles in the larynx, or voice box. It causes voice breaks and can cause a tight, strained quality to speech.
Those afflicted with the long-term ailment may have occasional breaks in their voice that occur once every few sentences. The disorder, however, is usually more severe.
Spasms may occur on every other word, making a person’s speech very difficult for others to understand, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The origin of the disease is still not completely known. Research has focused on everything from genes, to where you live, to the air you breathe. What researchers do know is that MS is an autoimmune condition.
Your immune system goes awry and attacks your body.
Although no cure has been found yet for MS, effective medications are available to help you manage the disease.
A number of celebs have also been afflicted with the disease with varying symptoms. Here are some of them:
The former talk show host received his MS diagnosis in 1999. He’s learned how to distract himself and “keep it in a box,” he says. He currently puts much of his focus on raising awareness about the disease through the Montel Williams MS Foundation.
Sigler was diagnosed with MS in 2001 but stayed quiet about it for years because she feared it would affect her career. In early 2016, she revealed her diagnosis. “It’s part of me, but it’s not who I am,” she told People. She takes medication twice a day and says her MS is manageable.
Osbourne, the son of heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne, was diagnosed in 2012. He says his new motto is “adapt and overcome.” He realized something was wrong when his eyesight became blurry. “The eye doctor sent me to the ER, and the ER was like, ‘We need an MRI,’ and then spinal taps, and blood work, and talking with neurologists,” he told Everyday Health. “Come to find out, that wasn’t my first exacerbation. About 18 months prior, my legs had gone numb, and it was all connected to the same thing.”
The country music star first noticed symptoms in his mid-20s. He couldn’t hold a guitar pick in his right hand or stand. Treatments helped Walker regain use of his hand and leg. Today , he works tirelessly to raise awareness about multiple sclerosis.
Garr, a rising comedian and film star, revealed her MS diagnosis in 2002, after years of uncertainty and secrecy surrounding her diagnosis. Now 74 and retired, speaks frequently on the subject.
Lander is best known for his role as Squiggy on the “Laverne and Shirley” show, which ran for eight seasons on ABC from 1976 to 1983. Lander kept his multiple sclerosis diagnosis private for 15 years, but now makes public appearances to talk abut the disease.