Christina Applegate’s candid announcement about her MS diagnosis has created an online community for women travelling the same “tough road” as her.
“I have been so supported by people that I know who also have this condition,” Applegate tweeted, noting that “it’s been a tough road.”
“But as we all know, the road keeps going,” she added. “Unless some asshole blocks it.”
In a separate tweet, the actor explained that she turned to a friend who also has the neurological condition – which is significantly more common in women, and can damage nerve cells and disrupt the nervous system’s ability to function properly – for advice on how to manage and live with it.
“As one of my friends that has MS said, ‘we wake up and take the indicated action.’ And that’s what I do,” she said.
“So now I ask for privacy. As I go through this thing. Thank you.”
As MS is rarely discussed openly, Applegate’s tweets were met with support and gratitude from others travelling the same “tough road” as her.
And, incredibly movingly, the thread of comments has since transformed into something like an online community, with many women coming forward to share their own journeys and stories.
“I’ve been fighting MS since 1998,” reads one such comment. “It is the ‘snowflake’ disease, as no one patient is the same.
“My way [of dealing] with it is don’t let it take over your life. Take it one day at a time. You will have good and bad days, and I feel that there is more good than bad. Tell your own story.”
“I am so sorry,” says another. “[It’s been] 19 years for me.
“It’s a road but it’s not always as bumpy as it seems at first. You’ll educate yourself and your family, you’ll be scared, you’ll be in denial. Then, all of a sudden you don’t think about it all the time. It’s just you.
“Hang in there!”
One more notes: “Hi, I’m 24 and I have relapse-remitting MS. I was initially diagnosed at 21 but have shown signs of MS since I was 14. I’ve dealt with major relapses which led me to starting disease modifying therapy (DMT) over a year ago.
“So far I haven’t had any major relapses. I’ve also been able to maintain a ‘normal’ life by being able to work and complete my classes. I actually am starting law school in a few weeks, despite having MS. Overall, I have been able to manage my MS.”
And another says: “MS is definitely a [tough] road. It is a disease you can fight physically, but if you try to fight it mentally you’ll be miserable. So let go of the guilt you feel for being sick. Give yourself permission to be different than before.
“I know it’s hard. But you’ll be OK.”
“The hardest part of MS is not focusing on what you used to do, but what you can do and to learn to accept help when offered,” reads one more.
“Your friends will feel better and you’ll be able to conserve a little energy.”
“I got my diagnosis 13 years ago. Welcome to the club no one wants to be a part of! But seriously, life goes on, just with a shitty companion,” says another, alongside a heart emoji.
“You’ve got this.”
And still one more promises: “You will be JUST FINE! Some days are stinky, but after a while, the good days start to win. The first year was the toughest [for me]. Constant mental body scans, anxiety about every twitch on the body, [wondering if it meant] a relapse.
“But, as your body heals and once you wrap your head around it, it gets easier.”
Among the wave of responses came a message from Applegate’s Sweetest Thing co-star and longtime friend, Selma Blair, who was also diagnosed with MS in 2018.
“Loving you always. Always here. As are our kids. Beating us up with love,” Blair – who has openly discussed her treatment and experience with the disease – wrote simply.
“I love our two weirdos,” Applegate replied. “They are so fun.”
MS is an incurable condition affecting the brain or spinal cord, causing vision, balance and muscle problems. It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s to 30s (although it can develop at any age) – and, as already mentioned, it’s about two to three times more common in women than men.
However, much like many other “invisible” diseases, MS is rarely discussed openly, despite the fact that an estimated 2.3 million people live with MS around the world – which is why the response to Applegate’s diagnosis is so heartening.
“I’m pretty much a nobody in Hollywood,” Blair said previously. “But when I read comments on Instagram from people who were suffering, whether it was from MS, or anything, I thought, there’s a need for honesty about being disabled from someone recognisable.”
She added: “I am in the thick of it but I hope to give some hope to others, and even to myself. You can’t get help unless you ask.”
Do you or a loved one suffer from MS? Seek help and support with MS Society now.
Main image: Getty