Selma Blair's MS Battle
- Selma Blair, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2018, has revealed the difficulties she endured during motherhood, from pregnancy to raising her son Arthur amid the pain she was dealing with.
- Multiple Sclerosis is a serious disease of the brain and central nervous system. There is no cure for MS, but MS warriors battling the disease do have methods to manage their symptoms.
- Overcoming adversity can seem daunting but having a plan can make it feel achievable. It’s important to remember know that setting goals and breaking them into smaller steps is key. When going through a difficult time try setting a goal, making a plan, relying on others, and using positive self talk
- Feeling supported during a cancer battle a degenerative disease, like Selma Blair has, is hugely beneficial. New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik, tells SurvivorNet that receiving the diagnosis “can be a very overwhelming experience” that requires finding support outside of your usual circles to help cope.
Blair spoke about the tumultuous time in her life, which she says ultimately led the actress to become who she is today, with Glamour Magazine.Read More
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Speaking to Glamour in a recent interview, Blair offered some insight into her motherhood journey, which she recounts being not so easy.
Blair, who is mom to 12-year-old Arthur, who she shares with her ex, designer Jason Bleick, told the magazine, “The MS flared very obviously, when I was in labor. My body started going through distress as bodies can, and, of course, I didn’t know I had it. And so the moment Arthur was born, I went from this kind of blissful pregnancy to utter devastation.
“Everything was too overwhelming. I couldn’t be in a relationship. There was nothing I could do except be a mother. And I was brutally tired and I didn’t have a support system. I didn’t know how to set one up.”
Referring to how she’s been a “long-time longer” throughout her life and remains single, she continued, “You get used to kind of having your schedule and it doesn’t jibe with people. So even though I’m sociable and friendly, I’m alone for everything.
“And this child automatically became my biggest responsibility, my biggest love, but it was a very, very hard adjustment for me. Very hard.”
At the time, her doctors told her it’s simply “normal” for new moms “to be in pain all the time.”
Blair, who sought advice from all types of experts, described her symptoms as, “I cannot stay up. I cannot drive a car. I cannot see. I’m bumping into things. I’m dragging my legs.”
Experts suspected she was suffering from postpartum depression or stretched tendons due to labor, but now she understands what she was dealing with to be “pure exhaustion, an MS flare.”
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Describing how she felt at the time, which included waking up and not being able to move, as well as feeling vertigo on a plane, she said she was “broken down” and without a job.
Now she’s grateful to be sharing her story, in hopes to prevent this from happening to others.
“It was a very hard time in my life,” Blair recounted. “But it was the catalyst to become who I am now.”
She told Glamour she feels a “personal point of necessity to stand up for other people when I wouldn’t stand up for myself.”
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As for finding a partner in life, Blair, who noted she had a recent missed connection at a friend’s birthday gathering, said, “What [being in love] does for your spirit—it’s nothing to take lightly.
“It colors everything. I still believe if I’m just true to myself, that person will come into my life one day. I think I deserve it and think I’m in a great place to show up as the best version of me. It’s the first time I have hope. And I could have never said that in my life before.”
For now, despite living with a disability, Blair has her goals, activism, her son, and the future to look forward to.
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She concluded, “If we’re lucky enough, we all know we’re all going to be in some form of disability or needing someone, so let’s break that down now, and enjoy what everybody who’s lived a long time can offer us, because it does get better as it gets worse. You better see both, people!
“Life is wild. I’m glad I stuck in there.”
Selma Blair’s Multiple Sclerosis Battle
Selma Blair was diagnosed with MS in 2018. Following her diagnosis, Blair took to Instagram to share the news with fans and followers. In a 2018 post discussing her illness, she wrote candidly: “I have multiple sclerosis. I am in an exacerbation. I am disabled.”
She wrote to fans, “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. Since my diagnosis at ten thirty pm on The night of August 16, I have had love and support from my friends.”
Blair, who has used chemotherapy to treat her symptoms, is a lovely example of someone who embraces the reality of life with a health challenge. She’s open and candid about her journey with MS, as well as her need for additional support and tools throughout it.
Since opening up about her diagnosis, she has been using her cane proudly in on magazine covers, on red carpets, and during talk show interviews.
People facing a health issue like MS or like cancer may require support tools, like a cane, or a wig to cope with hair loss from cancer treatments. There’s nothing shameful about needed support through a health battle, or otherwise.
Speak with your doctor or an oncological social worker about tools that may be available to you to help make your journey easier.
You’re not alone in your battle, and there’s likely a way to mitigate some of the experiences and make them less difficult, even communicating with others and hearing inspirational stories like Blair’s can help.
Overcoming adversity can seem daunting. Many people think reciting upbeat mottos or pretending to be cheerful will help, but these solutions can make someone feel even more dejected than before. Instead, pay attention to the following steps to make meaningful change.
1. Set a goal. No matter what the situation, create a new goal for yourself. If you have just been diagnosed with cancer or a chronic illness, perhaps one goal would be to educate yourself about the disease and the possible treatments as much as possible.
2. Make a plan. How will you achieve this goal? Your plan will help you focus on that goal. Dr. Siddhartha Ganguly refers to this determined, focused mindset as “the eye of the tiger,” which can help people dealing with health problems, such as lymphoma and other cancers. “You have to have the eye of the tiger to go through this grueling process that is necessary these days to get rid of these virulent and aggressive cancers,” Dr. Ganguly, a cancer specialist at Houston Methodist, told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
3. Rely on others. Spend time with people who show you unconditional support and encouragement. They will alleviate your stress and help you remember that you’re not alone in this! Dr. Samantha Boardman, a psychiatrist and author, previously told SurvivorNet that one “coping strategy that can be productive is reaching out and talking to others. Having support we know is really critical in the healing process.”
4. Use positive self-talk. Leave messages with affirmations in places you frequent. Put notes around your mirror or the computer screen that say “You got this!” or “Keep going!” Cut out inspirational quotes from people you admire and surround yourself with their words. Dr. Boardman explained to SurvivorNet that “Positive emotions have unique benefits above and beyond managing negative emotions.”
The Importance of Support
Having a strong support system is crucial during the emotionally and physically taxing job of fighting cancer or battling disease. As Blair battled MS, her quality of life is enhanced by The American Association of People with Disabilities, among other things, like her supportive friendships, family members, and fans.
“Studies have found consistently that loneliness is a significant risk factor for physical and mental illnesses and the trajectory of recovery,” licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Marianna Strongin told SurvivorNet.
“The act of sharing our time and words with others can alleviate emotional and physical pain.”
In order to receive support, however, it is imperative you share at least some details about your journey, either with disease or a disability, with others. But whom you share with and how much to share is entirely up to you.
“Some people start to kind of share the information with many family members and friends, and they feel that works for them, and that it’s a way that they can get support from other people,” New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik said.
“Other people are much more private about it, and there is no one right way to handle this diagnosis. People should do what feels right to them.”
Some cancer survivors don’t need to go beyond their circle of family and friends for support, but others might need a little extra help. For the latter group, Dr. Plutchik recommends reaching out to a mental health professional who has experience working with cancer warriors.
“Try to find a mental health professional who is experienced in this area and who really understands the nuance and intricacies involved in this,” Dr. Plutchik explained. “Make sure that the mental health professional that you work with is reaching out with your consent to the rest of the team, to the oncologist, to the surgeon if those people are involved.
“It can be helpful to reach out to family, friends, anybody else, any other caretakers that would be involved in the person’s treatment. You don’t want a situation where everybody is kind of doing their own thing on the team.”
We love how Blair is keeping an attitude of gratitude and remaining grateful for her community, in addition to helping others finding community support. Having a strong support network through cancer is so important.
Dr. Plutchik recommends the following three steps for anyone who just found out they had cancer or a potentially disabling disease like Multiple Sclerosis.
- Seek additional support if you need it. This might mean speaking to a mental health professional or finding a support group to join.
- If needed, find a mental health professional who has experience helping people dealing with things like cancer.
- Make sure your care team stays connected. Your care team may include your friends, loved ones, therapist and doctors.
Overall, know you’re not alone and there are many people out there for you to be vulnerable with should you choose to open up about your cancer diagnosis.
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff