What Selma Blair’s Announcement Means To Me

If you have Multiple Sclerosis, you’ve likely heard that this past weekend, actress Selma Blair announced via Instagram that she has been diagnosed with the chronic, incurable illness. While not everyone in the MS community will recognize her, Selma is close to my age and starred in some of my all-time favorite movies (Cruel Intentions, Hellboy, Legally Blonde, etc.). I even confess to having a bit of a crush on her when I was younger, so her announcement may have a greater impact on me than others in our community. I know there will probably be a lot of reaction pieces to her “coming out”; nevertheless, I thought I’d throw my feelings on the matter out there.

She described MS almost perfectly

Selma made her announcement on Instagram, explaining that, like many of us, she had symptoms long before she was diagnosed. She described MS almost perfectly to me: “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.” She goes on to talk about her struggles and about needing and asking for help. Her post contains so many small, yet perfect descriptors of what life with MS is like, and I encourage everyone to go read it. From “always wanting to sleep” to how long it would take her to pick up things that she’s dropped, she says so many things that will mean something to people with MS, and that others simply won’t get.

Someone else “gets it”

Her honesty, her vulnerability, and her courage are on display in her announcement and all of those qualities are to be applauded. I hope she understands how much this one Instagram post has helped people. Not only has it helped raise awareness of our illness (and you can be sure, many people will now learn something about this disease that they never knew because of it; people will Google, people may even donate more to research because of it), but it also said to so many people like us, that we aren’t alone. That someone else “gets it”. Of all of the issues that those of us with MS suffer, knowing that someone else understands what our lives are like is a big one.

Her words could have easily been mine

While you’d never wish this upon anyone, the comfort of knowing that someone else has been in your shoes creates an incredible bond. For a disease that leaves so many feeling alone, her announcement, particularly with how detailed it was, has helped a lot of people. When I read her post, Selma Blair ceased being a famous actress to me, she was me. Her words could have easily been mine. As I read it, I wasn’t alone. That, to me, was better than any treatment I’ve ever had. It’s something I will remember on the hard days, when I can’t get out of bed, when I fall and have trouble getting up, when I sit there in pain. I’ll know that there is one more person out there that “gets it”, and I can’t explain why, but that’s incredibly comforting. So thank you Selma, so much, for having the courage to speak up.

(By the way, yes, I’ve covered this kind of thing before. When Jamie-Lynn Sigler announced that she had MS, I was asked to give my thoughts on the pros and cons of a celebrity coming out, you can read that here.)

Thanks for reading!

Devin

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Comments

View Comments (8)
  • Lupe
    2 months ago

    Spot on! Her admittance did create an awareness on those who do not have or understand this disease. I have had several people comment on this and understand, if only a little bit, the struggles we go through. Sharing on FB. Thanks Devin.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks Lupe! Always appreciate the comment and the share!

  • chong61
    3 months ago

    Your words are perfect and yes, just knowing someone understands is comforting. It is a very lonely disease and just the feel of how fast the excerbations comes and then they stay and never go away, you stress on what is to come. I am 76 and have had MS for over 20 years. I know my children, but you see the frustration on their face when I ask the same question today that I did yesterday.

    The best thing I ever did was ask them to stop telling me anything, just put it in an email. Then I can put it on my desk calendar. Then I check that each morning.

  • LuvMyDog
    3 months ago

    So…no one knows for sure but there are about 400,000 people in the United States with various forms of MS.
    And, Ms. Blair is looked at as being brave, courageous and bold for telling the world via social media?
    I do not use Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or any of those social media pages.
    I don’t look for attention and I know that people feeling sorry for someone lasts only as long as the next thing of interest pops up.
    I am not enamored with “celebrity” type people, so not impressed with anything they have to say.

    When we see that an actress or musician or whatever has a certain illness, the media acts as though it’s something spectacular and no one else could possibly have anything as bad as they might have.
    I have two words for that….B*ll Sh*t !

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thank you LuvMyDog. I am not someone who ever really cares what a celebrity says, but, a vast majority of people out there, for some reason are. In a case like this, having someone that has the ears and eyes of a lot of people is extremely valuable. Particularly from the stand point of helping to further knowledge of the disease. That knowledge has an impact on our lives. No only do more people end up understanding more about MS, it ultimately helps drive donations for research, and that’s a great thing. And realize, while you may not partake in social media, a large chunk of society does (not that I think that’s a good thing, just a fact). Anyone who commands the attention of others (whether they should or shouldn’t), and can help raise awareness of the disease, which ultimately increases research money (whether directly or indirectly) is a very positive thing from my viewpoint.

  • LeeAnn
    3 months ago

    The one thing we all know is that MS does not discriminate on who it attacks. I’ve noticed as the years go on my fatigue, tremors, pain, cognitive issues etc. have been slowly getting worse. With that being said you learn to deal with it and move on with your life. Accepting what you cannot change is essential so you can live the best life you can. I find talking about my MS and how it affects me helps a lot.

  • Deb
    3 months ago

    Great article I feel the same way, she’s alot more courageous than I’ve been, she makes me want to be more open with people, I felt guilty thinking if she can do it so can I, when I wouldn’t wish this disease on anyone I actually felt better knowing she understands & will bring knowledge & awareness to more people.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thank you Deb! A lot of people have trouble discussing their lives with MS. It’s such an unknown ailment to so many people, that it’s difficult to explain it to them. When someone who commands some attention can accurately talk about the disease, it makes it just a little bit easier for all of us.

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