‘Why are we so starved of support?’: The reality of an eating disorder in Ireland
‘Why are we so starved of support?’: The reality of an eating disorder in Ireland

Michelle Heffernan

So you just got engaged: here’s all the annoying things that’ll happen this year!
So you just got engaged: here’s all the annoying things that’ll happen this year!

Sophie White

Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey are in Ireland – and of course, there’s a Jedward connection
Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey are in Ireland – and of course, there’s a Jedward...

Sarah Finnan

Extra chewing gum vibes off Harry Style’s ‘Watermelon Sugar’ in their post-Covid ad dedicated to touching
Extra chewing gum vibes off Harry Style’s ‘Watermelon Sugar’ in their post-Covid ad dedicated to...

Sarah Finnan

The step-by-step guide to laying a chic summer tablescape
The step-by-step guide to laying a chic summer tablescape

Holly O'Neill

According to science, there is one way to upgrade your biscuit break
According to science, there is one way to upgrade your biscuit break

Shayna Sappington

5 mobile apps to help you save money now
5 mobile apps to help you save money now

IMAGE

Image / Editorial

‘I was in denial; I was in pain’: Selma Blair gives first interview since revealing MS diagnosis


by Jennifer McShane
27th Feb 2019
blank

To open up about the things that debilitate us in life is never easy. It takes courage and strength. Variations of that sentence, of those words, are tossed around a great deal when speaking about those whose debilitations or disabilities are visible from the outset.

But, in some cases, praising a woman for her courage, as she overcomes physical and emotional difficulties following a diagnosis of aggressive multiple sclerosis (MS), is absolutely warranted and necessary.

Related: Selma Blair reveals she has multiple sclerosis in emotional Instagram post

Actress Selma Blair is one such woman.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Selma Blair (@selmablair) on

This weekend, she confidently graced the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscars party; multi-coloured Ralph & Russo gown and cape elegantly billowing behind, custom cane in tow.

It was a moment. For anyone with MS; for anyone with a disability who could never imagine themselves gracing a red carpet the same way (myself included) – it was so powerful to see. The actress was visibly emotional, and soon after, she gave her first interview since she publically revealed she had been diagnosed with the disease.

Related: ‘I remember hearing the words ‘she’s disabled’ and wondering who they were talking about

On Good Morning America, the 46-year-old actress told of how she cried upon being diagnosed with the condition, having experienced symptoms that went unexplained for years.

“They weren’t tears of panic,” she explained. “They were tears of knowing I now had to give into a body that had loss of control.”

“I’m happy to just put out that this is what being in the middle of an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis is like”

In Ireland, there are more than 9,000 people living with MS. Three times more women than men are diagnosed with MS, with most being diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. MS is the most common debilitating neurological condition affecting young adults in Ireland and it affects the motor, sensory and cognitive functioning of the body.

There is no known cause or cure.

The Legally Blonde star said she spent years not knowing the reasoning behind her symptoms, including muscle tremors and extreme tiredness – all of which affected the quality of her day-to-day life.

“I was giving it everything to seem normal, and I was self-medicating when he wasn’t with me,” she said. “I was drinking. I was in pain. I wasn’t always drinking but there were times when I couldn’t take it.”

“I was really struggling with, ‘How am I gonna get by in life?’ And [being] not taken seriously by doctors, just, ‘Single mother, you’re exhausted, financial burden, blah, blah, blah.’”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Selma Blair (@selmablair) on

She recalled seeking advice from actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1992, wondering if she had the same thing.

“I said, ‘I don’t know who to tell, but I am dropping things. I’m doing strange things’,” Blair continued. “He got in touch with me and we began conversations. He really helped me … he gives me hope.”

Conforming to a stereotype 

The words “brave” and “inspirational” are often the primary two words used to describe a person with a disability in the media, at least judging by the Oscars coverage this past weekend. It’s easy to see why this would – and does – irritate so many. They conform to a stereotype, this use of tired language. Because getting out of bed isn’t “inspirational” for others, just as it isn’t for those of us who may have more challenges – it’s just daily life.

And some of us don’t wish to be labelled heroic, just because we live our lives.

Related: Living with MS: What it’s like to care for someone you love

But the other side of that is sometimes, it is wonderful to witness a person who overcomes a small mountain or daily battles – and I speak as a woman with mild Cerebral Palsy whom battles many – often the tiny victories feel like the biggest accomplishments. So, as long as it doesn’t patronise, particular terminology can be fitting.

Selma Blair is courageous. It takes real guts to do what she did.

Perhaps, getting up, getting dressed and just walking the lengthy line of photographers as she did was her mountain that day.

She climbed it with elegance, grace and strength that deserves admiration and respect – and all the inspirational words we can think of.

Main photograph: @Variety


More like this:

  • ‘All of a sudden I was really struggling’: One person in Ireland dies from asthma every week… here.
  • Breast cancer awareness: how to check your breasts at home… here.
  • Eczema: All you need to know about the chronic skin condition… here.

Also Read

Keith-_-Tara_130_Web Shantanu Starick painting kitchen cabinets
EDITORIAL
How to limit drips and brush strokes while painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets can be transformative and can be achieved relatively low-cost,...

By Amanda Kavanagh

Taylor Swift
EDITORIAL
I was not a fan of Taylor Swift. Then I watched her documentary

The documentary Miss Americana has shown a different side to...

By Edaein OConnell

blank
EDITORIAL
What to eat this weekend: Fish n’ courgette chips with homemade tartar sauce

This healthy fish and courgette chips recipe from Jane Kennedy...

By Meg Walker

blank
EDITORIAL
‘We went to the zoo today – and life felt deliciously normal’

What’s seldom is truly wonderful, writes Amanda Cassidy Dublin Zoo...

By Amanda Cassidy

Has society become more tolerant of the idea of dating interracially?
premium IMAGE WRITES, REAL-LIFE STORIES, RELATIONSHIPS
Interracial dating: “People kept asking ‘where is she from?'”

With diversity on the rise, what struggles do interracial couples continue to face today? Filomena Kaguako speaks to three couples about their experiences.

By Filomena Kaguako

blank
EDITORIAL
Vaccine envy: ‘Why a year of Covid has brought out the begrudgers’

By Amanda Cassidy

blank
AGENDA, EDITORIAL
TV presenter Kate Garraway’s husband ‘may never ‘have any kind of life’ after Covid battle

By Jennifer McShane