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Christina Applegate Gets Real About Battle With MS: ‘It Can Be Very Lonely’

The actress, 52, talks with ‘GMA’s Robin Roberts about caring for her daughter, dealing with pain and coming to terms with the disease

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Robin Roberts (left) interviews Christina Applegate (right) and Jamie-Lynn Sigler on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Christina Applegate said staying home without seeing too many people is currently her preferred way to deal with her multiple sclerosis.

“Right now I’m isolating, and that’s kind of how I’m dealing with it, by not going anywhere because I don’t want to do it, it’s hard,” said Applegate, who was diagnosed in 2021.

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The Dead to Me star opened up to Good Morning America coanchor Robin Roberts on Wednesday and spoke candidly about her daily struggles and battle with the disease.

“I live kind of in hell,” said Applegate, 52. “I’m not out a lot, so this is a little difficult, just for my system. But of course, the support is wonderful, and I’m really grateful.”

Help from friend Jamie-Lynn Sigler

The support, she said, comes best from those who understand firsthand what she is going through — including close friend and fellow actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who also suffers from the autoimmune disease. “She’s doing this because I have the tremors,” Applegate said of Sigler, who held her hand during the interview to help with one of the many physical side effects of MS.

“Well, because I love her, but yes,” Sigler said. The Sopranos star, 42, was diagnosed in 2001 while starring in the HBO drama at just 20 years old, but she didn’t go public about it until 2016.

“They call it the invisible disease. It can be very lonely because it’s hard to explain to people,” said Applegate, who is a mom to 13-year-old daughter Sadie. “I’m in excruciating pain, but I’m just used to it now.”

Keeping life quiet and mellow

In May, Applegate told Vanity Fair she doesn’t have friends dropping by to help her, because frankly, she doesn’t want them to. “I actually don’t want to be around a lot of people because I’m immunocompromised,” she said. “I have my friend who lives here during the week, and she helps me take care of Sadie. And then on the weekend, I have a caretaker. I also don’t want a lot of stimulation of the nervous system because it can be a little bit too much for me. I like to keep it as quiet and as mellow as possible.”

She revealed to Vanity Fair that routines such as taking a shower are scary. (“You can fall, you can slip, your legs can buckle.”) And certain actions she once took for granted are now difficult. For example, she said she can bring something upstairs to her daughter, but “going down the stairs, carrying things — you can’t do that anymore. It f-----g sucks.”

Sharing their MS journey

Applegate estimates she had the disease for “probably six or seven years” before she was diagnosed while filming the final season of Dead to Me. “My symptoms had started in the early part of 2021, and it was, like, literally just tingling on my toes,” Applegate told Good Morning America. “And by the time we started shooting in the summer of that same year, I was being brought to set in a wheelchair. Like, I couldn’t walk that far.”

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The physical limitations brought on by the disease left her with no choice: “I had to tell everybody. Because I needed help … and they were wonderful,” she said through tears, looking to Sigler for reassurance and emotional support.

“She keeps me going because ... I’m the one who’s like, I’m flipping the bird all day long at this thing and I’m angry. I’m really, really pissed,” Applegate said. “She’s like, ‘OK, I have you, and you are going to be OK. Like you’re going to be OK.’ And if not for her ... I really honestly don’t know.”

The closely bonded pair will share their journey with MS on a podcast, MeSsy, which launches March 19. Listeners should tune in “to feel seen if they’re going through this,” Applegate said. “To feel heard, even if it’s not MS. I’ve been playing a character called Christina for 40 years, who I wanted everybody to think I was because it’s easier … this is the person I have been this whole time. I was kind of putting on a little act for everybody for so long.”

The Married … With Children actress is also a breast cancer survivor: In 2008, her diagnosis of early stage breast cancer was announced, and after undergoing a double mastectomy, she was declared cancer-free. In her trademark humor, she joked that when it comes to MS, “it’s not my favorite disease. I’ve had a couple. It’s not my favorite one.”

“I’m not putting a time stamp on it,” Applegate said about coming to terms with the disease, which has taken away her ability to pursue her passions for dancing and running and being a mom to the fullest. “I’m never going to wake up and go, ‘This is awesome.’ I’m just going to tell you that — like, it’s just not going to happen,” Applegate said. “I wake up and I’m reminded of it every day. So it’s not going to happen. But I might get to a place where I will function a little bit better.”

Video: Learn the Early Signs of Multiple Sclerosis

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