'I'm having the time of my life': Selma Blair on the lessons of her MS diagnosis, her raw doc

·4 min read

"Nothing was off-limits" when capturing Selma Blair's battle with multiple sclerosis in an upcoming documentary, says director Rachel Fleit.

Fleit says the "Cruel Intentions" star, 49, was at a place of "true vulnerability" for "Introducing, Selma Blair," premiering Oct. 15 in select theaters and streaming Oct. 21 on Discovery+.

"She was ready at this moment in her life to just tell the truth of this experience," Fleit told reporters Monday, alongside Blair, during a virtual panel for the streaming platform. "I think honesty is extremely inspiring, and I'm just so happy with the way it all turned out."

Blair, known for her comedic roles in films like "Legally Blonde" and "The Sweetest Thing," went public with her MS diagnosis in October 2018 and has documented her fight on social media. With MS, "the immune system attacks the protective sheath (myelin) that covers nerve fibers and causes communication problems between your brain and the rest of your body," according to the Mayo Clinic.

Selma Blair attends the 26th Annual Race to Erase MS Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Friday, May 10, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California.
Selma Blair attends the 26th Annual Race to Erase MS Gala at the Beverly Hilton on Friday, May 10, 2019, in Beverly Hills, California.

Symptoms and severity vary among patients, per the clinic. While some affected can lose their mobility, "others may experience long periods of remission without any new symptoms."

When revealing her diagnosis on Instagram, Blair said of her symptoms: "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."

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While Blair admits there are times when she could escape the public eye for her native state of Michigan to "recover more quietly," she's happy to help spark conversation and be someone people can relate to.

"A lot of people don't feel safe ever really getting off their shoulders, what they're going through and it, and it creates a real rigidity and fear in a lot of people," she says during Monday's virtual panel. "To hear that even just me showing up with a cane, or willing to talk about something that might be embarrassing, or oversharing to people, was a key for a lot of people in finding comfort in themselves that I've heard of, and that means everything to me. So, I’m thrilled that I have some platform.

"By no means am I saying I'm speaking for all people with this condition or any condition of chronic illness or disability or anything," she continues. "I'm speaking my story, and if that helps normalize one thing to open the door for other people to be comfortable telling their stories – it could also be enlightening and informative and helps people build new ways of being with love and support, then I'm thrilled to have this here to talk to you (about)."

Fleit says Blair experienced "a few medical emergencies" during filming, but didn't shy away from the cameras. "If she told me to cut the cameras, I would have. But she didn't, and so we kept going. And what we get is magic because it's real life."

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Blair uses humor to deal with her health ordeal. "I always like humor because like Carrie Fisher said, 'If it wasn't funny, then it would just be true,' " she explains. And she shares that she never had a "Why me?" moment following her diagnosis.

"I used to have terrible menstrual cramps, and I honestly did scream, 'Why me?' every month. I am not joking," she says. But with MS, "I never did feel 'Why me?' and I always felt like I could rise to this. … But never 'Why me?' It's absolutely a lesson."

Blair says she gets an enjoyment out of life now that she didn't have before.

"I never really liked life that much. I was so scared in life," she says. "So to suddenly start to find an identity and a safety in me and figure out boundaries and time management and energy. I'm having the time of my life."

Blair says following hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) her relapsing-remitting MS is in remission.

"It took about a year after stem cell for the inflammation and lesions to really go down," she says. "While I am in remission, there's still maintenance and treatments and glitches and wonderful things and wonderful things I've learned. But I am in remission, I guess they call it. I don't have any new lesions forming."

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Selma Blair on MS diagnosis: For documentary 'nothing was off-limits'

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