Selma Blair on living with MS: 'I'm pretty comfortable with my body now and unapologetic about that'

Selma Blair, 49, opens up about her journey with multiple sclerosis (MS) in a new documentary. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Selma Blair, 49, opens up about her journey with multiple sclerosis (MS) in a new documentary. (Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Selma Blair is putting herself out there in a new documentary, Introducing, Selma Blair, which depicts her experience undergoing a stem cell treatment for the multiple sclerosis (MS) she was diagnosed with in August 2018.

Before learning that her as-yet-undiagnosed MS was causing many of her physical and mental ailments, Blair says in a new interview that she was "miserable," even carving out a successful acting career with roles in films including Cruel Intentions and Legally Blonde.

“I must admit, I was miserable," she told the Observer of that time. "I was sometimes funny and miserable, and full of love — I’ve never been a hateful person. But there was a melancholy of grief, always, and always a grief of isolation because I didn’t last long talking, you know, not knowing I had MS. The fear that I’m just lazy still comes into my mind.”

More than three years after her diagnosis, Blair is feeling at peace in her skin. She's even open to possibly appearing on screen again.

“And now I know, for me to work on film or TV, if I do that, I would have to be a much more thoughtful, present actress. Being able to use my weirdisms, my tics," she shared. "I’m pretty comfortable with my body now and unapologetic about that. And I think there’s room for some of that.”

But that doesn't mean her journey hasn't been a challenging one. Since childhood, Blair has suffered from "recurring trigeminal neuralgia (stabbing face pains), dystonia, dental work, constant neck and nerve pain, down my leg, my joints, plus the pseudobulbar affect," which is defined as episodes of laughing or crying. She says each symptom strongly played a role in her "comfort level in life.”

But her health truly went downhill after giving birth to son Arthur 10 years ago. Alcohol proved to be another complication.

“I wasn’t someone who was drinking on set and having a party. I was someone that went into isolation for a glass of oblivion. I really did have trouble being sober," she shared.

Then in 2016, she experienced a blackout episode on an airplane while on vacation with Arthur and her son’s father, Jason Bleick.

“Jason and I had gone through some very, very difficult custody mediations. You know, we were really trying our best, both of us, but we were well short of being comfortable with each other. When I went on that trip I was not drinking, but my health was really awful. And I was having these crazy panic attacks, as if I just couldn’t be in my skin," she said.

When they arrived at the hotel, Blair started to drink.

“As soon as my pain set in, and the rain started, I thought I will just have one shot to calm the pain in my face, that I had chased around with root canals and extractions that I didn’t need, because I was so desperate. And Jason looked at me… I was like, ‘Trust me, I know what I’m doing.’ I didn’t want to give him more reason to distrust me, but I was just at my wits’ end," she shared.

Ultimately, she had to be removed from the plane on a stretcher, in an incident that soon made headlines and prompted her lawyer to inquire about child protective services becoming involved.

“I thought, oh my God, it’s come to this," she shared. "This is what I’ve done.”

Blair later appeared on The Talk to discuss the matter, telling the Observer, “I knew I was dealing with something physical that I couldn’t quite explain on TV. I remember saying on the show, ‘I’m really trying to forgive myself for this.’”

Sober since that incident, Blair has found a strong network through her Hollywood connections to deal with her subsequent MS diagnosis. Stars ranging from Kris Jenner and Michelle Pfeiffer to Michael J. Fox and J.J. Abrams have rallied behind her when she was "scaaared."

“People that would never give me a job came forward! Oh, I joke, haha — but they came forward as people, and this town has a history, and I do have a history with it, and I love these people. I love this town," she said. "I love how it can influence things for the better.”

Ultimately, Blair says things fell into place when she found out she had MS.

“You know, this wasn’t a death sentence for me. We all have a death sentence somewhere written in the stars," she said. "And hopefully, we will all learn to live our lives before that death sentence starts.”

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