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Christina Applegate on parenting with MS: It’s heartbreaking when you have to say to your kid, ‘I can’t’

Christina Applegate red carpet 2023
Frazer Harrison/Getty

Since Christina Applegate was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in 2021, much about her life has changed. In a new interview with People magazine, she opened up about some of those changes — especially how her diagnosis has affected her role as a mom.

“She’s had to see the loss of her mom, in the way that I was a mom with her,” 52-year-old Applegate said of her 13-year-old daughter, Sadie. “Dancing with her every day. Picking her up from school every day. Working at her school, working in the library. Being present out of the house, out of my bed. She doesn’t see those things anymore. This is a loss for her as well. And we’re both learning as we’re going along.”

In a particularly heartbreaking moment, Applegate shared that there have been times when her MS symptoms were so painful or overwhelming that she hasn’t been able to be there for her daughter.

“She’ll come in the room, and if she sees that I’m laying on my side, she knows that she can’t ask me to do anything,” she said. “And that breaks me, breaks me. Because I love doing stuff for my kid. I love making her food. I love bringing it to her. I love all of it, and I just can’t sometimes. But I try. I try.”

Applegate was filming her Netflix series Dead To Me when she was diagnosed in June of 2021. Now that the series has ended, she’s launching a podcast called MeSsy, set to premiere on March 19, with Sopranos star and close friend Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who was diagnosed with MS more than two decades ago. MS is a chronic, progressive disease that affects the central nervous system and can cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from fatigue to numbness, muscle spasms, vision loss, pain, mobility loss, and cognitive issues.

Applegate said one of the hardest things about her diagnosis is knowing that this is now something she has to navigate for the rest of her life.

“This is forever,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking when you have to say to your kid, ‘I can’t.’ It’s like the worst feeling in the world as a mother. You’re their protector in life. When you have to say, ‘I can’t,’ it rips your soul apart. I freak out about it every day.”