Actress Selma Blair has multiple sclerosis.
In a moving and heartbreaking Instagram post, the 46-year-old actress reveals that she was diagnosed with the debilitating disease back in August. She also details all of the scary symptoms she deals with on a daily basis and explains how, after 15 years of living with the condition, she finally figured out what was going on with her body.
“I have #multiplesclerosis. I am in an exacerbation,” she wrote. “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. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.”
Blair reveals she was diagnosed with MS on the night of August 16 and has been leaning on her pals — including Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze and Jaime King — for their support. She was inspired to share her story after a “profound” moment of “deepest gratitude,” when the costumer on her upcoming Netflix show Another Life lovingly helped her get dressed. She hopes that her admission will help “give some hope to others” and even herself.
“You can’t get help unless you ask. It can be overwhelming in the beginning. You want to sleep. You always want to sleep. So I don’t have answers. You see, I want to sleep,” she writes. “But I am a forthcoming person and I want my life to be full somehow. I want to play with my son again. I want to walk down the street and ride my horse. I have MS and I am ok. But if you see me, dropping crap all over the street, feel free to help me pick it up. It takes a whole day for me alone. Thank you and may we all know good days amongst the challenges.”
After several years of living with MS, Blair was finally diagnosed with the help of actress Elizabeth Berkley, who urged her to make an appointment with her brother, neurologist Jason A. Berkley, DO. Dr. Berkley found a lesion after doing an MRI. “I have had symptoms for years but was never taken seriously until I fell down in front of him trying to sort out what I thought was a pinched nerve,” she continued. “I have probably had this incurable disease for 15 years at least. And I am relieved to at least know.”
What is multiple sclerosis?
Multiple sclerosis, commonly referred to as MS, is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), Roumen Balabanov, MD, a neurologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, previously explained to Prevention. It occurs when the communication is broken down between the brain and the spinal cord.
An estimated 2.3 million people worldwide are living with MS. While MS impacts both sexes, women are twice as likely to be impacted. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 60, and can often live with it for years, like Blair, before receiving an MS diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of MS?
While there are specific symptoms for MS, they can come and go, which can often delay a diagnosis for years.
Weakness and fatigue
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the majority of people (80%) experience unexplained muscle weakness, usually in the legs. Some also experience numbness or tingling as well as chronic fatigue, which appears suddenly and lasts for a few weeks before improving.
Deteriorating eyesight can also be a symptom, as MS causes the optic nerve in the eye to become inflamed. You should see a doctor if you experience double vision or if a part of your field of vision has become blurry.
Pain and muscle spasms
Serious leg pain and muscle stiffness and spasms are also very common symptoms of MS, more prevalent with women than men.
Frequent urination, strong urges to urinate and incontinence are all symptoms of MS.
Cognitive problems are not uncommon symptoms of MS, as it impacts the nervous system. Symptoms can include forgetfulness, trouble staying organizing or a decreased attention span.
What should you do if you think you might have MS?
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should call your primary physician immediately. They will likely refer you to a neurologist, who may ask you to undergo an eye exam, a neurological exam or maybe even a spinal tap.
Be patient, as MS isn’t easy to diagnose and may take some time. Always pay attention to your symptoms and seek a second opinion.
This article originally appeared on Prevention US.