In an interview with Vanity Fair, the “Legally Blonde” star said she’s been dealing with a host of strange ailments for nearly five years, before undergoing an MRI last summer and discovering the autoimmune disease.
“I’m pretty much a nobody in Hollywood,” she said. “But when I read comments on Instagram from people who were suffering, whether it was from M.S., or anything, I thought, ‘Holy s—, there’s a need for honesty about being disabled from someone recognizable.'”
Blair told “Good Morning America” that, prior to her diagnosis, she had begun to experience intense pain and fatigue ever since giving birth to her son in 2011. The fatigue was often overwhelming, she said, recalling times when she would drive a mile to drop her son off at school only to pull over and take a nap before she went home.
“I was in an M.S. flare-up and didn’t know, and I was giving it everything to seem normal,” Blair said. “And I was self-medicating when he wasn’t with me. I was drinking. I was in pain. I wasn’t always drinking, but there were times when I couldn’t take it.”
She once called up fellow actor Michael J. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, because she grew so desperate that she thought she might have the same disease. However, things changed once she received her diagnosis.
“I had tears. They weren’t tears of panic,” Blair said about the moment she was diagnosed. “They were tears of knowing I now had to give in to a body that had loss of control, and there was some relief in that.”
Now Blair wears her diagnosis proudly. Last Sunday, she attended the Vanity Fair Oscar after-party with a bedazzled cane — she told Vanity Fair they should always “fit right and look cool” — and she promises to keep acting despite her disability.
Several friends and family members have also spoken out in support of Blair, including “Cruel Intentions” co-star and longtime pal Sarah Michelle Gellar.
“There’s a calmness to her because I think now she knows she can’t do everything, and it’s O.K., some days, if she can’t,” Gellar told Vanity Fair. “It’s been wonderful to watch her be more settled, more content, and almost more in control of herself in a weird way.”
Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner, whom Blair portrayed on FX’s “The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story,” has also been following Blair’s struggles closely.
“She really is sharing something so vulnerable, and so scary,” Jenner said. “She showed me what courage is, and how to be brave. I changed a bit of the way I live my life because of her.”
As for the future, Blair remains hopeful, beginning a monthly intravenous-drug therapy around the same time that the Vanity Fair interview took place.
“I’m very optimistic; I think she’ll be a different person in a year,” doctor Saud Sadiq said. “I have patients with M.S. who are surgeons, actors, a commercial-airline pilot, sports figures, successful lawyers — they don’t want anyone to know about their illness because they feel it could hurt their career. Her decision to speak out also brings awareness and increases research funding for the disease when people can see somebody affected in the way that she is.”