HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (CBSNewYork) – There was an inspiring sight at this year’s Academy Awards, as a longtime Hollywood star walked the red carpet to open up about her ongoing struggle against a debilitating neurological disease.
She’s the actress known for her breakthrough roles in movies like “Cruel Intentions,” “Legally Blonde,” and “The Sweetest Thing.”
Now, Selma Blair is talking publicly for the first time about a much more important breakthrough in her life.
“I was a little scared of talking,” the actress said.
The medical diagnosis that left her in tears, but not the kind of tears you might think.
“They weren’t tears of panic they were tears of knowing I now had to give into a body that lost control. And there was some relief in that,” Blair, who diagnosed with multiple sclerosis said.
MS is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system. In Blair’s case, one of the first things the public can hear is how it’s affecting her voice.
“My speech you’ll notice, I have spasmodic dysphonia right now.”
The condition is a disorder that affects the muscles in the voice box.
There were symptoms of illness long before the 46-year-old found out what she was fighting last year. Signs that her seven-year-old son Arthur had been seeing first hand.
“He had already seen that I was falling and doing things… I did have to tell him after the MRI. I said I have something called multiple sclerosis and he almost cried and said ‘will it kill you?’ And I said ‘no, we never know what kills us Arthur, but this is not the doctor telling me I’m dying.’”
It turns out the actress was in a full MS flare up since her son was born, but didn’t know.
“I was giving it everything to seem normal, and I was self-medicating when he wasn’t with me. Drinking, in pain… Not always drinking, but there were times when I couldn’t take it and I was really struggling,” Blair confessed.
Feeling helpless when her doctors didn’t take her seriously.
“Single mother, you’re exhausted… I’d even drop my son off at school a mile away and before I got home I’d have to pull over and take a nap. I was ashamed and I was doing the best I could but it was killing me.”
Selma found comfort asking for help from fellow actor Michael J. Fox, who has lived with Parkinson’s disease for three decades.
“Really, he gives me hope.”
Stepping out on the red carpet in a gorgeous gown and custom cane at Vanity Fair’s Oscar party Sunday night, she’s now spreading that hope to everyone else.