For most of her adult life, Selma Blair has enjoyed her self-described loner status. It took getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly one year ago for her to learn how much better life can be when she lets people in.
“It’s the strangest thing that the time that could be the most stressful, I am feeling the most joy,” Blair, 47, tells PEOPLE exclusively in the latest issue on stands Friday. “I think it’s because I’ve learned more than ever that there are people that support me, that love me. I’ve seen people dedicate their time to help me.”
After her diagnosis, Blair’s closest friends (like actress Jaime King, and her Cruel Intentions costar and pal of 20 years, Sarah Michelle Gellar) rallied around her.
King sends Blair “beautiful” weekly flower arrangements and has also visited Blair during treatments. “I’m always happy to see that face,” she says of King, 40.
Gellar, 42, started weekly “food trains” for Blair and her 8-year-old son Arthur so she wouldn’t have to spend extra energy cooking dinners.
- For much more on Selma Blair and how she’s living with MS one year after her diagnosis, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
“Sarah started the meal train, which is good because my kid likes to eat dinner and that wouldn’t happen without it,” Blair jokes. “I get weekend meal packs like I’ve never feasted on before from Reese Witherspoon, from Constance Zimmer and so many people I don’t even know through Sarah.”
“[My friends] have stood up in ways I never would have been comfortable with before,” she says. “It’s been everything to me.”
Gellar’s acts of kindness inspired Blair to pay it forward with a new friend she met on social media.
“She and her husband are working so hard while she deals with the aftermath of breast cancer and more chemotherapy and they have a child,” Blair explains. “I thought, ‘She could probably use a meal train.’ I was getting all these meals, why not also pay it forward and start one for her.”
“It takes so much off your plate,” she says of not having to prepare meals. “I can then have time to read to my son or go to his school.”
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The selfless support Blair receives from her friends has benefitted her household in multiple ways.
“It’s so important for my son to see me interacting with people and to see mom laughing with them,” she says of being “forced to open up and allow people in.”
“I’m going to have to remember on days that I feel better to reach out to them,” Blair says of wanting to maintain her connections. “Like ‘Hey, can you still come around? Because you’re my friends and I still need you.’”