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Christina Applegate's MS Diagnosis: A Timeline of Her Illness

The Dead to Me star learned that she had the disease in 2021.

Film and television star Christina Applegate welcomed fans into her personal life a few years ago, when she shared that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Per the Mayo Clinic, MS is a "potentially disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system)" in which "the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body."

MS can come with a variety of symptoms, and Applegate has opened up about the first signs of MS that she noticed in her own body as well as how those symptoms have evolved over the years. Additionally, she's spoken out about how the disease has impacted her acting career and revealed whether she plans to take on any more roles.

Read on for the timeline of Applegate's MS diagnosis and what she's had to say about battling the illness.

RELATED: Selma Blair Was Labeled "Crazy" When She Exhibited MS Symptoms at 7 Years Old.

May 2021: The final season of Dead to Me starts filming.

Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini in Dead to Me

Since 2019, Applegate had been starring with ER alum Linda Cardellini in the dark Netflix comedy, Dead to Me. After COVID-related delays, the third season was set to begin filming in 2021. However, Applegate has since explained that the shoot was suspended after she began experiencing what she later learned were MS symptoms on set.

Per a 2022 interview with The New York Times, the now-52-year-old actor felt increasing numbness in her limbs and extremities and noticed worsening balance issues. She told the Los Angeles Times there were also issues with tremors and pain in her legs.

At some point that spring, she was diagnosed with MS, and the show went on a filming hiatus for five months.

"There was the sense of, 'Well, let's get her some medicine so she can get better,'" she told the NYT. "And there is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time."

Filming for the season finally wrapped up in early 2022, and Applegate credited the crew and especially her co-star for helping her get through it. ("She literally pulled me under her wing and protected me, and took care of me every single day," she said of Cardellini to the LA Times.) She also said that there was talk of shortening the final season, but she was determined to get back to work and finish the series.

"I had an obligation to [creator] Liz [Feldman] and to Linda, to our story," Applegate said to the NYT. "The powers that be were like, 'Let's just stop. We don't need to finish it. Let's put a few episodes together.' I said, 'No. We're going to do it, but we're going to do it on my terms.'"

RELATED: What's Wrong With Alan Jackson's Health? The Singer Is Battling Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease.

August 2021: Christina Applegate reveals her MS diagnosis publicly.

Christina Applegate in 2020
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

That August, amid the Dead to Me break, Applegate shared her diagnosis publicly on social media.

"Hi friends," she wrote in a post to X, formerly Twitter. "A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It's been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It's been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some [expletive] blocks it."

In another post, the actor wrote, "As one of my friends that has MS said 'we wake up and take the indicated action'. And that's what I do. So now I ask for privacy. As I go through this thing. Thank you xo."

Fans and friends responded with an outpouring of support.

November 2022: Applegate makes her first public appearance since her diagnosis.

Liz Feldman, Christina Applegate, and Linda Cardellini at Applegate's Walk of Fame Ceremony
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

After being delayed by a pandemic and then Applegate's health issues, the third and final season of Dead to Me hit Netflix—to critical acclaim—in Nov. 2022.

Despite being proud of the show, the star said it took her months to be able to sit down and watch the new episodes because of how her MS affected her appearance and led to weight gain.

"I don't like seeing myself struggling," she told the LA Times. "Also, I gained 40 pounds because of inactivity and medications, and I didn't look like myself, and I didn't feel like myself."

Days before the new episodes premiered, Applegate made her first public appearance since being diagnosed with MS. She received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Nov. 14 and spoke at the ceremony. Among the celebrity friends there to cheer her on were Married… with Children co-stars Katey Sagal and David Faustino, as well as Cardellini, Feldman, and Sweetest Thing co-star Selma Blair, who is also living with MS.

Applegate, who was barefoot for the event, made mention of her MS in her speech.

"Oh, by the way, I have a disease. Did you not notice? I'm not wearing shoes! Anywho, you're supposed to laugh at that," the Emmy-winner joked, as reported by People. She also noted earlier in her remarks that she would be brief as she couldn't "stand for too long."

February 2023: Applegate says Dead to Me is most likely her last live-action role.

Christina Applegate and daughter Sadie Grace in 2023
Emma McIntyre/FilmMagic

In a Feb. 2023 Vanity Fair interview, Applegate (pictured here with her daughter Sadie Grace) echoed some comments she had made ahead of Dead to Me's last season, stating that it would probably be her last in-person acting role.

"I can't even imagine going to set right now," she said. "This is a progressive disease. I don't know if I'm going to get worse. I can do voiceover stuff because I have to support my family and keep my brain working."

In the same interview, the star gave fans an update on how her MS symptoms were impacting her at the time.

"With the disease of MS, it's never a good day. You just have little [expletive] days," Applegate explained. "People are like, 'Well, why don't you take more showers?' Well, because getting in the shower is frightening. You can fall, you can slip, your legs can buckle. Especially because I have a glass shower. It's frightening to me to get in there. There are just certain things that people take for granted in their lives that I took for granted. Going down the stairs, carrying things—you can't do that anymore. It [expletive] sucks. I can still drive my car short distances. I can bring up food to my kid. Up, never down."

She noted that she cannot have many visitors because she is immunocompromised and avoids crowds because noise and stress affect her differently now.

RELATED: Amy Schumer Shares Diagnosis Amid Concern About Her Changing Face.

January 2024: Applegate gets a standing ovation at the Emmys.

Christina Applegate and Anthony Anderson at the Emmys in 2024
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

Despite her hesitancy toward crowds, Applegate presented at the Emmys this January, taking the stage aided by a cane and escorted by host Anthony Anderson. The crowd welcomed her with a standing ovation.

"You're totally shaming me with disability by standing up," she deadpanned. "It's fine."

She announced the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series category, which ended up going to The Bear star Ayo Edebiri.

Applegate was also on hand as a nominee herself. She was up for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Dead to Me but lost out to Abbott Elementary's Quinta Brunson.

March 2024: Applegate launches a podcast about MS and reveals new symptoms.

Applegate joined forces with her friend, The Sopranos star Jamie-Lynn Sigler, to launch a new podcast called MeSsy. Sigler was diagnosed with MS when she was 20, but did not reveal this information to the public until years later, in 2016, at age 34. They told People that they were connected by their mutual friend Lance Bass after Applegate made her announcement in 2021, and have become close, commiserating and connecting over their common health issue.

Per the official podcast description, MeSsy revolves around the hosts "getting vulnerable about the curveballs that life can throw…theirs just happens to be MS." The description continues, "Join them each week as they self-reflect, learn, laugh, and grow through their own raw and often-times hilarious conversations with each other, friends, co-stars, and the people that keep them going through the messiness of life."

In an appearance on the Armchair Expert podcast that same month, Applegate shared that she has 30 brain lesions as a result of her MS. "My biggest one is behind my right eye, so my right eye hurts a lot," she said, as reported by InStyle.

Speaking to Good Morning America with Sigler by her side, the actor did not sugarcoat her diagnosis, stating that living with MS is a "kind of hell" and that she is most comfortable "isolating" at home now.

"That's kind of how I'm dealing with it, is by, like, not going anywhere, because I don't want to do it. It's hard," Applegate said.

April 2024: Applegate opens up about a painful relapse.

Christina Applegate in 2023
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Applegate discussed an MS relapse she dealt with months ago on the April 2 episode of MeSsy. She explained, per People, that felt "intense pain in [her] legs" that left her almost immobile.

"Not being able to walk to the bathroom without feeling like I'm going to fall," she said. "Insane tingling that just has spurts of tingles that are weird coming from like my butt down."

She also stated that she'd been unable to sleep because MS was causing her eye to twitch.

While the actor explained at the time that her "legs have never been this bad," her representative confirmed to People that she is no longer experiencing the relapse.

Per the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a relapse is "the occurrence of new symptoms or the worsening of old symptoms," and can be anywhere on the spectrum from mild to severe.

Sage Young
Sage Young is the Deputy Entertainment Editor at Best Life, expanding and honing our coverage in this vertical by managing a team of industry-obsessed writers. Read more
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