MS diagnosis came in August but Hollywood star has lived with symptoms for years
The American actor Selma Blair has been praised for speaking candidly about having multiple sclerosis (MS).
In an Instagram post the 46-year-old Cruel Intentions star said she had been officially diagnosed in August but had experienced symptoms for years.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Multiple sclerosis is a lifelong condition, which can affect the brain or spinal cord. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, including problems with vision, arm or leg movement, sensation or balance.
According to the NHS, it is two to three times more likely in women than men and is usually diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s.
Blair, who will appear in the Netflix series Another Life, said the “profound” help she received from costume designer Allisa Swanson had inspired her to speak openly about her condition.
“[S]he carefully gets my legs in my pants, pulls my tops over my head, buttons my coats and offers her shoulder to steady myself. I have #multiplesclerosis,” she wrote.
“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. 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.”
There is no cure for MS but symptoms can sometimes be managed with painkillers or drugs to reduce nerve inflammation, physical therapy to ease muscle stiffness or medication to slow progression.
Genevieve Edwards, director of external affairs at the MS Society, said many people living with MS would be grateful for Blair’s decision to speak out.
“She’ll raise vital awareness of a condition that affects more than 100,000 people in the UK,” she said. “MS is unpredictable and different for everyone so, as the actress revealed, you can live with symptoms for years and not receive a diagnosis.”
There is no cure for MS but thereare a range of treatments available for the relapsing form of the condition, as well as new research-led developments happening all the time, Edwards added.
According to the NHS, more than eight in 10 people with MS are diagnosed with the relapsing remitting type. A person with relapsing remitting MS will have episodes of new or worsening symptoms, which can occur without warning but are sometimes associated with periods of illness or stress. These can worsen and last for days, weeks or months, then slowly improve over a similar time period.
“What’s most encouraging about Selma’s post is the attitude of her colleagues. Having the right support around you is crucial because when your employer takes time to understand MS, you can enjoy a full working life for as long as you want or are able to.”
Blair discussed the support she had received from her producers, writing: “By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix , I have a job. A wonderful job.” Her producer Noreen Halpern assured her “everyone has something”. Blair added that all members of the crew had been supportive.
Many living with the condition sent words of support to Blair on social media, including journalist Victoria Brownworth, who wrote on Twitter:
Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX)
The actor and activist Rose McGowan also tweeted her best wishes, writing: “You are a stellar being, Selma Blair. Your truth and honesty will help so many. Blessings on your journey.”