The Dead to Me star, 50, reflected on the warning signs ahead of her diagnosis with the autoimmune disease during an interview with The New York Times, where she said she wished she’d paid more attention.
According to Applegate, one of the first indicators that something was off occurred while she was filming a dance sequence for season one of the Netflix show, when she found herself off balance. The actor said she then found herself struggling to play tennis.
However, rather than recognise the instances as signs of a possible health issue, Applegate said she only pushed herself harder.
“I wish I had paid attention,” she told the outlet. “But who was I to know?”
Signs and symptoms of MS, a disease that impacts the central nervous system, can vary from person to person and over the course of the disease progression. However, the Mayo Clinic notes that symptoms often affect movement, and can cause feelings of numbness or weakness in limbs, or “electric-shock sensations” that occur with certain neck movements. The disease can also affect balance, and cause “tremors, lack of coordination, or unsteady gait”.
Applegate’s symptoms eventually grew more severe, with the actor recalling how the “tingling and numbness” in her extremities began to worsen. She was diagnosed with MS in the summer of 2021.
“Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS,” Applegate wrote on Twitter on 10 August 2021. “It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition.”
Hi friends. A few months ago I was diagnosed with MS. It’s been a strange journey. But I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition. It’s been a tough road. But as we all know, the road keeps going. Unless some asshole blocks it.
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) August 10, 2021
Following the diagnosis, production of Dead to Me was paused as the actor began treatment. According to Applegate, the time was good for her, because it allowed her to “process” the loss of her life as she knew it.
“There was the sense of: ‘Well, let’s get her some medicine so she can get better,’” she recalled. “And there is no better. But it was good for me. I needed to process my loss of my life, my loss of that part of me. So I needed that time.”
However, while she acknowledged that she needed the time to process, she said that that doesn’t mean she has come to terms with the potentially disabling disease, as she revealed that she is “never going to accept this”.
“Although it’s not like I came on the other side of it, like: ‘Woohoo, I’m totally fine,’” she continued. “Acceptance? No. I’m never going to accept this. I’m pissed.”
While speaking to the outlet, Applegate also explained that she wanted to do the interview ahead of the release of the last season of Dead to Me, which will premiere on Netflix on 17 November, because it is “the first time anyone’s going to see me the way I am”.
“I put on 40 pounds; I can’t walk without a cane. I want people to know that I am very aware of all of that,” she said.
Ahead of press appearances for the newest season, Applegate shared a photo of her walking sticks on Twitter, where she acknowledged that they are now part of her “new normal”.
“I have a very important ceremony coming up. This will be my first time out since diagnosed with MS. Walking sticks are now part of my new normal,” she wrote alongside a photo of multiple walking sticks on 27 October.
I have a very important ceremony coming up. This will be my first time out since diagnosed with MS. Walking sticks are now part of my new normal. Thank you @neowalksticks for these beauties. Stay tuned to see which ones make the cut for a week of stuff. pic.twitter.com/O543p1G4vS
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) October 27, 2022
Although production of the show halted, Applegate eventually returned to set to finish the show. She told The Times that she did so because she felt an “obligation” to the show’s creator Liz Feldman, her co-star Linda Cardellini, and to the “story”.
It wasn’t without its challenges, however, as she acknowledged that she couldn’t work for as long or as hard, and that she was taken to set in a wheelchair. According to Applegate, who said finishing the series was the hardest thing she’s ever done, there were also times a crew member and friend members would be holding her legs up out of the camera’s range.
As for whether she plans to watch the final season, which revolves around illness, Applegate said that she doesn’t think so, as she finds it too painful.
However, she hopes that viewers are able to get past her illness and “enjoy the ride”.
“If people hate it, if people love it, if all they can concentrate on is: ‘Ooh, look at the cripple,’ that’s not up to me,” she said. “I’m sure that people are going to be, like: ‘I can’t get past it.’
“Fine, don’t get past it, then. But hopefully people can get past it and just enjoy the ride and say goodbye to these two girls.”
Since revealing her diagnosis, Applegate has been candid about the struggles she’s faced with the autoimmune disease. In November, the actor celebrated her 50th birthday while acknowledging that it had been a “hard one”.
Yup. I turned 50 today. And I have MS. It’s been a hard one. Sending so much love to all of you this day. Many are hurting today, and I am thinking of you. May we find that strength to lift our heads up. Mine currently is on my pillow. But I try
— christina applegate (@1capplegate) November 26, 2021
“Yup. I turned 50 today. And I have MS. It’s been a hard one,” she wrote. “Sending so much love to all of you this day. Many are hurting today, and I am thinking of you. May we find that strength to lift our heads up. Mine currently is on my pillow. But I try.”