When Selma Blair was 7, she experienced symptoms of MS. But people called her an attention seeker and doctors even dismissed her symptoms.
Selma Blair was just 7 years old when she first started noticing symptoms of Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system which in turn can affect the quality of one's life. While there is no cure for the disease, the symptoms can be managed and people can adapt to new lifestyles after diagnosis. The symptoms include fatigue, numbness and tingling, blurred vision, double vision, weakness, poor coordination, imbalance, pain, depression, and problems with memory and concentration. Less commonly MS may cause tremors, paralysis, and blindness according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
When she was a child the Cruel Intentions star experienced symptoms of MS like losing the use of her right eye, left leg, and her bladder. But people called her an attention seeker and doctors even dismissed her symptoms. For 40 years she suffered silently until she was finally diagnosed with the autoimmune disease in 2018. Speaking of what her childhood was like before she learned she had multiple sclerosis, she told British Vogue in 2022, "If you're a boy with those symptoms, you get an MRI. If you're a girl, you're called 'crazy'." She would also often wake up in the middle of the night laughing hysterically — which later turned into uncontrollable crying as an adult. "I just thought I was a hugely emotional person," she recalled. "I looked like a 'normal' girl to them, but I was disabled this whole time."
Blair's words resonated with a lot of MS patients who had to struggle for years before they could get a correct diagnosis. “The fatigue, speech issues, flares, and mobility issues are different for each person, yet they can happen to each of us at any time without warning,” said Valerie Taylor, an MS patient who was diagnosed in 2012, according to New York Times. "Invisible illnesses are not often recognized because we appear to be ‘fine,’ yet we are anything but," she continued. “Awareness is key as well as aggressive research to find a cure.”
While her condition has gone into remission since 2021 Blair admitted that it still can be "overwhelming" living with the constraints of her disease. "I can be sat on the couch and then I wake up. I've passed out and have no idea where I am," she explained. But now she's focussing on her "joys" including walking her dog alone or creatively moving furniture around in the middle of the night. “I am so grateful for the peaceful hours now,” she admitted. At the time she was a single mom-of-two who was open to dating. “But I have grown not to expect much. I don’t get asked out. It takes patience and sensitivity, and I won’t compromise anymore. I am happy with what I have, but open to more one day. I like brilliant people. I could use a brilliant man who loved me. Perhaps. I don’t know…” the 50-year-old confessed.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Amy Sussman