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Why I'm Thankful to Selma Blair for Sharing Her Chronic Illness Journey

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As I sat down to watch Selma Blair’s “Good Morning America” interview, I thought it would be just another star talking about their illness — helpful for raising awareness, but not life-changing. I didn’t expect to be in awe and in tears watching her go through the interview during a flare up.

Her courage to fight for her son is something I can relate to on so many different levels. I know how hard it is to find motivation on days when your illness brings you down and you feel there is no more hope, but you still get up and function because those tiny humans need you.

One thing I want many people to take from that interview is how she knew something was wrong, how she was in a flare up for so long but she wasn’t taken seriously. She was told it’s stress, anxiety, and many other reasons women are so tired of hearing. It seems like women are never taken seriously when we complain about physical symptoms. We are often told we are being dramatic, or we are stressed, and then we’re sometimes medicated for depression and anxiety. Whereas if a man walks in with the same symptoms, they will be referred for a dozen tests and blood work to get to the bottom of it.

A few years ago, I kept going back and forth to my doctor, complaining about a series of symptoms. Every time he said it was just anxiety — until I ended up in the ER and found out my body was completely depleted of iron and I had to be admitted for treatment for two weeks to correct it. I was so sick physically that I was sleeping all day. I had shortness of breath, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, dizziness, fatigue and so much more. If it wasn’t for another doctor, who happened to be a woman and didn’t believe it was just anxiety, I would have had severe complications or even died. A simple test would have saved me the heartache, the pain, the doubt. But the other doctors opted to take the easy way out and dismiss my concerns.

Selma Blair showed me I’m not alone in this struggle. Even though she was struggling to speak, her voice had so much strength in it. It takes a very strong person to speak openly about their weakness, but it’s a whole new level to talk about it openly during your worst moments, during your flare up, during your pain and still do so with so much poise and grace. I thank her on behalf of so many women and so many mothers struggling to be heard, struggling to get out of bed, struggling to accept their new diagnosis. Thank you for being strong. Thank you for being real.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/LGEPR

Originally published: February 27, 2019
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