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Selma Blair, 49, star of American Crime Story and Legally Blonde, chronicles the difficult stem cell transplant that put her multiple sclerosis into remission in the Discovery+ documentary Introducing, Selma Blair — though she really needs no introduction. “We have to get it out in the conversation that seeking caregiving is not giving up,” she says. “It’s getting help to get better and live your best life.” On the eve of the publication of her memoir, Mean Baby (available May 17), she tells AARP the top seven things you should do in your life.
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1. Face Facts
When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2018, at age 46, I realized I had probably been having symptoms for years. There had been times after my son was born, in 2011, that I couldn’t move, because the pain in my joints was so intense. I blamed myself; I thought I had failed at childbirth. After I finally got the diagnosis, I was able to seek the right help.
2. Be Yourself at Any Age
The MS has caused some prefrontal brain damage. When I sat down to write my new memoir, Mean Baby, it came out as if from the 8-year-old I was when I first wanted to write a book! [Laughs.] But being a baby writer is beautiful, and I hope to help other little Selmas with my story.
3. Keep Going
I’ve always been a talker, so even if my voice falters or goes into a spasm, I talk through it. I’m learning not to give it a rest!
4. Reach Out and Touch Someone
I don’t like not being able to do certain things, but I’m finding such a connection with people. If I see an arm offered, I grab it. That’s new for me, and it makes the day more like a game.
5. Flaunt Your Assets
I never had bad balance before, but the cane has become my dance partner. My days of heels are nearly gone, so my long-cane days might be over, too. Those canes will have to be cut down for the Air Jordans I will now be wearing.
6. Find Closure
My mother was a harsh critic, and I always wanted her to edit my book, to really clean it up. Then she died of cancer. I felt such a profound sense of grief and loss. But when I started down the path of embracing life and writing about it — and also of participating in a documentary about my MS treatments — everything I was doing became very rooted in my mother. The film is a love letter to her as I’m trying to let go of her.
7. Embrace Change
I realized that if I’m lucky, I could reach 85, MS or not. Our abilities are always fleeting, but when they fail, it’s treated as a tragedy. How do we enter a chaotic shift in our life without feeling it’s an end to something? We just have to adapt.
— As told to Bobbi Dempsey