Selma Blair Talks About How Her MS Diagnosis Completely Changed Her Life

In October 2018, actress Selma Blair made a startling revelation. She told the world that she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), but she was completely clueless about her condition at first. But to add insult to injury, her MS caused her to develop spasmodic dysphonia, a vocal condition that could literally leave her speechless. Despite the gruelling diagnosis, she cried tears of joy when she finally heard the news.

She Was Clueless

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In an interview with Good Morning America, actress Selma Blair talked about how she had been experiencing flare-ups of multiple sclerosis since she gave birth to her son. But she had no idea that she was suffering from MS back then. So, she started doing what most people do, which if to self-medicate. Blair wasn’t getting the answers she needed, and the pain wasn’t going away, so she resorted to something even worse.

Booze And Meds Helped Her Cope

Mama Mia

Blair explained that the chronic pain continued for several years. During this time, she started to self-medicate and drink alcohol to cope with the agony. This led to a public incident on an airplane in 2016. In a statement, she recounted that her “cocktail” of meds and alcohol caused her to say and do things she later came to regret. Thankfully, she celebrated two years of sobriety in June 2018. But her troubles were far from over. In fact, Blair’s search for answers would prove to be a pretty exhausting quest.

The Diagnosis Made Her Cry

Cafe Mom

Blair couldn’t help but shed a few tears when doctors told her she had MS. But these were tears of relief because she could finally accept a body that had lost control. She later decided that it would be a great idea to talk candidly about what living with this aggressive form of multiple sclerosis was all about.

Her Voice Was Shaky

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The courageous actress told GMA that her voice had changed after being diagnosed and was pretty shaky. This was the result of a condition known as spasmodic dysphonia, which she developed as a result of her MS. Spasmodic Dysphonia affects the larynx muscles. In healthy people, two vocal cords, which are thin muscle tissues extend from either side of the voice box and attach on one end. When they open, they create a V shape. And when we speak, muscles push them together so they touch lightly. Then the air coming from the lungs pushes them apart. The vibrations formed during that process are the key to our voice.

She Was Experiencing Staccato Breaks


Spasmodic dysphonia forces the vocal cords together so tightly that air can’t pass through. This leads to a specific speech pattern marked by periods of choppiness known as staccato breaks. But MS causes the immune system to attack the brain, the spinal cord and the nervous system in general. Now usually, Spasmodic dysphonia isn’t caused by other conditions. But if someone like Selma has MS and experiences changes in voice characteristics, it could indicate that the MS is affecting the basal ganglia, aka the area of the brain where Spasmodic dysphonia occurs. While Spasmodic dysphonia comes and go, people with this condition experience a raspy or rough voice and have a tough time talking. There are other types of Spasmodic dysphonia that prevents the vocal cords from closing or keeps them closed all the time, but these are rare.

She’s Managing It

Instagram / @selmablair

There’s no cure for Spasmodic dysphonia, but there are ways to deal with the symptoms. For starters, a patient can take muscle relaxants that may help manage the spasms. But Selma will undoubtedly have periods of flare-up that will make her vocal changes worse. But as scary as this sounds, we’re glad that Selma was such a trooper and decided to talk about her condition. Hopefully, this will encourage others to get a correct diagnosis and the appropriate treatment plan, because MS can manifest in different ways, so treatment may vary from case to case.