Christina Applegate on how she copes with people seeing her 'as a disabled person'
Christina Applegate's sense of humor has made her a top comic actor since the 1980s, but it's serving an additional purpose since she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year.
The "Dead to Me" star spoke on "The Kelly Clarkson Show" on Nov. 8 about how living with MS — a disease of the central nervous system that affects how the brain communicates with the body — has made her use her natural ability to be funny in order to lighten the mood around others.
"My humor shield keeps me OK," she said. "But of course, down on the insides, you feel the things. I do it to kind of deflect and also make people not scared to be around me."
"When people see me now as a disabled person, I want them to feel comfortable that we can laugh about it."
Applegate, 51, even joked that she made up a jingle sung to the melody of the Christmas classic "Santa Baby."
"I have a song that I wrote called 'Dis-aby Baby,''' Applegate said before singing, "Hurry down the chimney tonight, I can’t because my wheelchair won’t fit down it.'"
Applegate used a cane last month when she made her first public appearance since announcing her diagnosis in 2021. She accepted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Nov. 14 while going barefoot.
"For some with MS the feeling of shoes may hurt or make us feel off balance. So today I was me. Barefoot,” she tweeted at the time.
Applegate stars in the recently released third and final season of "Dead to Me," a comedy series on Netflix that she was determined to finish.
"Being diagnosed with MS last year and what happened to my body, to my mind, to my spirit, to my everything, of course I didn't want to be around anyone or talk about it, but I had to go to work," she told Clarkson. "I was not forced to go to work, but I made sure that we finished the show."
Applegate called finishing the show the hardest thing she's ever done in her life.
"It was really incredibly difficult, and then I went to sleep for a few months," she continued. "And then all of a sudden now I had to come out again and be this person. And people had seen me as this other person for the last almost 40 years, and I'm different now, and it's incredibly hard. I'm going to do my best to get through it, I suppose."
She also shared that she had started feeling symptoms of fatigue as far back as four years ago before learning after a day of shooting "Dead to Me" that she had MS.
"I was diagnosed during shooting, and I didn't know what was happening to me," she said. "I couldn't walk. They had to use a wheelchair to get me to set. I was freaking out until someone was like, 'You need an MRI.'"
Applegate has previously spoken about her concerning symptoms over the last few years that she didn't recognize at the time. She told The New York Times last month that she started feeling unbalanced while filming a dance scene on "Dead to Me."
“I wish I had paid attention,” she said. “But who was I to know?”
This article was originally published on TODAY.com
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