Two days after her triumphant return to the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party on Sunday, February 24, cane in hand, Selma Blair marked another milestone: Her first on-camera interview after her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, or MS.
Blair sat down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts to share what her life is like now, four months after her heartbreaking October 2018 announcement that she had been diagnosed with the neurological degenerative disease.
During the interview, the Cruel Intentions actress, 46, revealed she was experiencing spasmodic dysphonia, which made it difficult for her to speak.
“I am very happy to see you,” Blair told Roberts in a halting voice. “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.”
The Lost in Space actress — who is mother to 7-year-old son Arthur with ex-boyfriend Jason Bleick — shared that she had been experiencing symptoms for years. “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,” she 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?” continued the star, who is now sober. “And not taken seriously by doctors: Just, Single mother, you’re exhausted, financial burden, blah blah blah.”
When she received her diagnosis, she recalled, “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. And there was some relief in that.”
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, MS “is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.” Symptoms can include fatigue, numbness of the face or limbs, difficulty walking, weakness, dizziness, pain, vision problems, speech problems and more.
The star, who has been been supported by close friends including Jaime King, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze, Jr. during her ordeal, recounted feeling such exhaustion before her diagnosis that there were times when she had to pull over her car after dropping her son at school a mile away to take a nap before making it home.
“And I was ashamed and I was going the best I could,” the Legally Blonde actress said. “And I was a great mother, but it was killing me. And so when I got the diagnosis, I cried with some relief. I thought, Oh good, I’ll be able to do something.”
She also revealed that before she was diagnosed with MS, she got in touch with actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. “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.”
As does her prognosis. Though she said she’s “very symptomatic” and has an “aggressive” form of MS, she also revealed, “the doctor I saw, he said within a year I could have, at the time, he said 90 percent of my abilities back. So this is to say, Let’s meet again next year and see if I’m better. If I’m not, and I can still have a conversation, that’s good enough.”
Throughout the interview, Blair, who is currently starring on Netflix’s Another Life, kept up her trademark sense of humor that she also shows in her poignant Instagram posts. Though she admitted was “a little scared of talking” during her flare-up, she was encouraged by her neurologist and wanted to bring awareness to MS.
“No one has the energy to talk when they’re in a flare-up. But I do ’cause I love a camera,” she said with a hair flip and a laugh.