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Christina Applegate Does Not Want To Be A Hero Battling MS – 'I Hate It So Much. I'm So Mad About It’

Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock
Christina Applegate

As a lifelong actor with great success, Christina Applegate has amassed more than just a long and impressive resume — the list of awards, nominations, and accomplishments is even more grandiose. However, she’s made headlines recently, not for her acting success, but for a more personal reason — her struggle with multiple sclerosis (MS). 

After being diagnosed with MS in 2021, Applegate took a step back from the public eye, focusing on her new reality. 

Praised by media outlets for her “resilience” and “strength” after she appeared with a supportive cane on the Emmy Awards red carpet, Applegate became the new Hollywood fixture of “bravery.” Battling MS both in private and the public eye, she’d adopted a demeanor of “strength,” but recent interviews provide insight into why that label never felt appropriate to her. 

“I’m dealing with it by not going anywhere because I don’t want to do it. It’s hard,” she admitted in a recent Good Morning America interview. “It can be very lonely because it’s hard to explain to people. I’m in excruciating pain, but I’m just used to it now.” 

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Christina Applegate’s admission of ‘hatred’ towards her MS has opened up a candid conversation about battling illness in the public eye.

Although she’d admitted to feeling random spells of fatigue and weakness over the past six or seven years, Applegate never would have imagined that this diagnosis was just around the corner. After her symptoms became impossible to ignore in 2021, a close friend and fellow actress Selma Blair suggested she get tested for MS. 

“The two of us from the same movie. Come on, that's not gonna be — that doesn't happen,'" Applegate recalled in her Good Morning America interview. "She knew. If not for her, it could have been way worse.” 

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic illness that primarily affects the central nervous system following the breakdown of the body’s myelin — a protective substance that typically protects nerve fibers — which tends to get depleted following misguided “self-attacks” from the body on itself in people with the disease. 

   

   

Often more prevalent in young women, MS symptoms are incredibly diverse and unpredictable — with fatigue, decreased motor functions, and vision problems being the most common. While the chronic disease technically has no cure, many patients can ease some of the symptoms with doctor support and medications.

“I have 30 lesions on my brain… it hurts,” Applegate shared on a recent “Armchair Expert” podcast appearance. “We all have this issue with mobility. It’s different per person… my hand starts to go weird and then I’ll get a ‘seizure’ feeling sometimes in my brain.” 

Applegate’s honesty about her health struggles has sparked discussion about stereotypes of ‘heroism’ within illness — ‘We don’t have to applaud every time I do something.’

Following her Emmy appearance and Good Morning America interview, after years of staying out of the public eye, Applegate’s honesty and vulnerability sparked larger conversations about battling illness. In her March 25 conversation with Dax Shepard on his “Armchair Expert” podcast, she candidly revealed she’s “so mad about [her MS].” 

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Christina Applegate Does Not Want To Be A Hero Battling MS Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

“This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me,” Applegate said. “I feel like I’m being the worst MSer... It’s a [expletive]. You push and it pushes right back. That’s the thing that I struggle with.”  

With “Walk for MS” initiatives and positive support groups, she feels a bit left behind. She’s not excited, motivated, or feeling positive about her battle. It just sucks — and that’s okay. As she revealed on Good Morning America, “I’m never going to wake up and go, ‘This is awesome.’ I’m just going to tell you that… I’m isolating, and that’s kind of how I’m dealing with it.” 

People are not always looking for support and overwhelming positivity.

Sometimes when life hands you lemons, they're just sour.

Applegate is entitled to complain, be negative, and even hate her illness. Oftentimes it's the public, the people on the periphery of the lived experience, that need a hero. They need the brave face, the fighter. But sometimes the person with the disease just needs to share the reality of how unfair it all is. 

   

   

Shepherd empathized with the pressure and stereotypes surrounding “fighting illness,” saying, “I hate the term, ‘They beat cancer.’ It implies that my dad didn’t fight hard enough… you feel [expletive] about your performance on top of everything else.” 

While community, hope, and support are incredibly important for many people struggling with MS or similar illnesses, it’s not the “end all” cure for fostering health and happiness. The real struggle, true pain, and helplessness that Applegate has shared in her recent appearances has filled a void missing from discussions of illness in the public eye. 

“Strength” doesn’t need to manifest as overwhelming positivity or navigation of daily life “as normal” — it can be messy, unfair, and negative if that’s what you need. Applegate’s Emmy speech was even framed “as humorous, despite everything going on” — but as she said, not everything needs to be “a win” or a triumph. 

Everyone’s battle with illness is unique, but Applegate’s journey with MS is a reminder that it doesn’t always have to be one of bravery, courage, & stoicism. 

In an effort to be more vulnerable and honest about her illness, Applegate has started a new Apple podcast “Messy” alongside friend and fellow MS survivor Jamie-Lynn Sigler. It promises to be a “commitment to brutal honesty” alongside oversaturated narratives of traditional bravery, resilience, and stoicism. 

Photo: Joe Seer / Shutterstock

“I’m not putting a timestamp on [my grieving process]. I’m never going to wake up and think ‘This is awesome.’ I wake up and I’m reminded of it every day. I might get to a place where I function a little bit better.”

Her journey is different from every other person navigating life with a chronic illness, whether in the public eye or not. However, her open honesty about the way it’s affected her daily life, her relationships, and her mental health is essential.

False narratives about “strength” only make people on the sidelines feel better. Applegate is giving a voice to the narrative that it's okay to hate what you're going through and that makes her a hero — living with an incurable disease doesn't.

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Zayda Slabbekoorn is a news and entertainment writer at YourTango focusing on pop culture analysis and human interest stories.