Selma Blair Reveals the Early MS Sign She Didn't Know Was a Symptom
The actor thought that this specific behavior was just a part of her personality.
Selma Blair has been forthcoming about her experience with multiple sclerosis (MS) ever since she first shared her diagnosis in 2018, and she's about to open up even more. Blair was filmed for a documentary, Introducing, Selma Blair, about living with MS that will be released in theaters Oct. 15 and on Discovery+ on Oct. 21. Ahead of the film's release, the actor spoke to The New York Times about why she decided to document her journey. Blair also detailed more of her specific case of MS, including the early symptom that she didn't even realize was connected to her diagnosis at first.
Blair had confused a symptom for a personality trait.
In the New York Times interview, Blair explained that after being diagnosed with MS, she had a conversation with a neurologist that made her see some of her behavior in a new light. The neurologist asked if Blair had been prescribed medication for pseudobulbar affect. According to Mayo Clinic, pseudobulbar affect is "a condition that's characterized by episodes of sudden uncontrollable and inappropriate laughing or crying," which "typically occurs in people with certain neurological conditions or injuries, which might affect the way the brain controls emotion."
"I said, 'No, this is just me, what are you talking about?'" Blair continued. "She's like, 'Or maybe it's not.' It never occurred to me."
She spoke about other early symptoms as well.
Blair has experienced fatigue, pain, and mood swings ever since she was a child. Her pain got worse after she welcomed her son, Arthur, in 2011, and she also experienced vision issues and involuntary muscle contractions in her neck. She's said in the past that one key moment in the move toward her diagnosis came when she was walking the runway in a Christian Siriano show and suddenly lost feeling in her left leg.
In addition, her symptoms can lessen or worsen based on her environment.
"I can walk better in my house, but outside it's like a sand pit," she said. "With certain light, my speech becomes intermittent even though my larynx is fine. It never occurred to me that there's a traffic jam that happens in my brain."
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Blair first revealed her diagnosis three years ago.
In October 2018, Blair shared with her fans that she had been diagnosed with MS that August in a post on Instagram. "I have #multiplesclerosis," she wrote. "I am in an exacerbation. By the grace of the lord, and will power and the understanding producers at Netflix , I have a job. A wonderful job. 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." In the post, she also shared that she suspects she had MS for 15 years before it was actually diagnosed.
She hopes that telling her story will help others.
A big part of Introducing, Selma Blair is the 49-year-old's experience getting a stem cell transplant and undergoing chemotherapy to improve her quality of life. Blair sees the documentary as a way to better understand herself as she is now, but also as a resource for others.
"There's a difference it can make to people," she told the Times of being candid about her condition. "I don't mean in a flaky, soft way. I mean, really make the time to go beyond, because you never know what people are holding inside, and what a relief to know even adorable people like me [laughs] are troubled by their own brains and bodies at times. That's the comfort I wish I could give."