Thinking About Selma Blair and Her MS

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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By now you may have heard that actress Selma Blair has revealed that she has multiple sclerosis (MS). That took a lot of guts. Those of us who share her diagnosis might learn a few things from what she’s shared and how she’s shared it.

Blair may be best known for her roles in the movies “Cruel Intentions,” “Hellboy,” and “Legally Blonde.” (I haven’t seen the first two, but I’m 70 years old and they’re not quite in my wheelhouse. “Legally Blonde,” on the other hand … I have to admit I did watch that.)

Blair made her announcement in an Instagram post. That was a good choice because that platform allowed her to directly reach an audience that’s in the prime age window for an MS diagnosis. The story was then picked up by traditional media outlets — USA Today, Vanity FairThe Daily Mail, and TV networks. They passed her words along to those who aren’t social media savvy.

(Screenshot of Blair’s Instagram post.)

Blair tells it like it is

Blair was brutally honest. In the Instagram post, she tells us that she sometimes falls, drops things, has memory fog, and always wants to sleep. She writes that her “left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS,” a great MS analogy.

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She even reveals that her costume designer has to help her during an exacerbation: “… [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.” That’s a lot more sharing than many of us with MS would be willing to do, even those of us who’ve been falling, dropping, and weaving for many years.

And how about this little bit of MS humor: “… [I]f you see me, dropping crap all over the street, feel free to help me pick it up. It takes a whole day for me alone.” Been there, done that.

The actress also shares her concerns about a few things, like the potential to lose her ability to play with her son, walk down the street, and ride her horse. But she doesn’t dwell on that, and she’s much more positive than negative, with quotes like, “I have MS and I am ok,” “I don’t know what I will do precisely but I will do my best,” and “I am in the thick of it but I hope to give some hope to others.”

I think she’s succeeded.

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M. avatar


It is unlucky to get this disease but Blair is lucky in that she can now go to a variety of global places like Israel, Puebla, Mexico, and others all to be found through googling, and get a stem cell transplant, and (I'm guessing her disease is relatively recent and if so) possibly heal herself. There are also about four places in the U.S. who do "trials," among them Chicago and Denver also to be found online. Do this sooner than later.

Carol avatar


From what I read she has had MS for years. I have had the same experience. Symptoms for years that were ignored. Physical Therapy to treat back issues. At times I could not get up off of the floor without crawling to.a chair. Major episode of double vision for 2 weeks. FP ordered MRI to rule our stroke. Ignored bottom line saying suspect of demilinating disease. Prednisone dependent for 15 years because of severe asthma. Prednisone masked symptoms of MS. New asthma treatment allowed reduction in steroids. Double vision, balance issues, neurogenic bladder, neuropathy in my feet and unbelievable fatique. Another MRI ordered by Neurologist. Showed lesions. Still no diagnosis. Finally fourth neuro diagnosed me. At age 71. Said I had this for decades. Retired nurse anesthetist that did extensive research. I know as much as Any physician because I know my body

I try to do whatever I can. Have strong core from years of exercise. Try to follow MS diet. Food is paramount. PT for balance. Mindfulness for stress relief. Meds for bladder.
This is a dirty dog of a disease. Many of us have invisible MS. We look fine but we are not. Would be easier to deal with a broken arm.
My mantra is: This will not beat me. I am old but I am stubborn. I take any opportunity to speak to others. So many undiagnosed and misunderstood people. Keep fighting. Be your own advocate.

Broce avatar


I'm so sorry. I know exactly how that is. My MS issues started with spasticity in my back. Every symptom I had was dismissed out of hand or there was some excuse why it was my fault, I was working too much, I was stressed, it was all in my head, I'm a woman, etc etc. it was not until I was finally diagnosed ten years ago that anyone realized that I'd had MS since 1982. Twenty six years undiagnosed and untreated. I'm SPMS now.

Karin L. avatar

Karin L.

You consider living with symptoms for 15 years recent?
You also realize there is no cure, stem cell or otherwise. We're close, we hope, but you're spreading misinformation by stating she can cure herself.

Patsey avatar


You are going to be just fine Selma. I have ms 30 yrs. now. Please get on MS therapy. Yhey are great. I been on tysabri 11 yrs. now, have not got lesions for 11 yrs.. I am walking without a cane. right side weak, and I deal with fatique, major depression. I am poor butI get by. I jad to take medical retirement 2-1992, cause doc ad isrd it, and I diagreed. Icould worked 10more yrs., but the company I worked for wanted me gone because they were afraid I would sue them. I worked in a lab, and I was around terrible chemi als. Also in 1985 to 1987 I was livong in base housing at CampLejeu e, North Carolina and was exposed chemicals there. You can read all about it at the Camp Lejeune water contamination sight on the internet. I have hard times getting by, but our dear Godm has my back. That the only reason I am alive, or I done myself gone long time ago. I started out with betazeton 7yrs., then avonex 8yrs. Doc said I was getting more lesions, and I nreded to get on tysabri. It beena blessing, ause the interferons were not working for me. I got humana medicare advantage ppo insurance andwhat they don't cover the UTSW hospital does me with there charity program. It is day to day and eventually I know I got ms, and I was right putfront with it fromthe get go. It is nothing to be ashamed of, or afraid of. My husband divorced me immediately, lost my carer and health all inone day. I am strong, resilient person, and I make sure I get my ms therapy.#1. I am happy you working and got family. God Bless you. I love you. My sister in Christ our Lord.

Gregory avatar


My left side is the same, broken GPS.Foot drop is severe,need to use AFO,makes things much harder. I don't talk about my problem & was inspired with ur public message& sounds like our conditions are very similar. I feel ya. God Bless!

Steve avatar


Yes, she is celebrity but why does her revealing that she has MS take a lot of guts? Is it any different than non-celebrities revealing that they also have the disease? Many people with MS would be willing to share what it's like to live with MS but the forum for celebrities is different than the average person.

Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Steve,

You're right. The fact that she revealed her MS wasn't that gutsy, and I probably shouldn't have referred to it that way in my second sentence. What took more than the average amount of guts, IMHO, was that she shared details of her symptoms and her mindset to a much greater extent than most celebrities seem willing to do.


Carolyn avatar


Sharing her dx was gutsy IMO from the perspective that in her line of business, judgment around disability is real and potentially career threatening. We might be inclined to roll our eyes but in her life that is a potential hardship, even if it isn't our experience. And anyone who has hesitated to share their dx with strangers knows *that* particular feeling. It's a brave act around a vulnerable feeling.

I appreciated the fact that she didn't gloss over the diagnosis like 'I have this but it's fine and it totally won't get in the way'. MS gets in the way. Whether it's immediately, sometimes, or later, it GETS IN THE WAY.

Cynf avatar


Selma seems to have a similar path that I had with mild symptoms undiagnosed for 20 years and dx when it starts to look SPMS and a bad attack. I don't believe she will get 90percent back, maybe 50 if she is lucky. 90 percent is a young person with a shorter history.

Sarah avatar


God Bless you Selma. Your struggle is real, just as we all struggle, sometimes the same, sometimes in different ways. I pray for you. God Bless. Peace.

Sarah avatar


God Bless everyone afflicted by any disability that interferes with life. Everyone is different and many of us suffer. Let us not judge. Peace.

Sylvia Macneil avatar

Sylvia Macneil

I think she is fabulous. I have the same condition and i look up to her as a voice to spread the word. She is thinking of launching line of clothing.....Awesome,

Sandra Schneider avatar

Sandra Schneider

Selma looked great during the Roberts interview. The high heels were a nice FU to the MS. However, there is no way to know how any individual will respond to stem cells. She may get 90% or no recovery. I'm surprised a doctor would even give that kind of prognosis for something still in clinical trials.


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