Written by Soberinfo
Despite decades of struggles, Michael J. Fox remains positive, upbeat, and happy. He released a memoir at the end of last year called No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality. Fox has always been open and honest about his approach to life in the face of adversity from Parkinson’s to recovery from Alcohol Use Disorder.
Relentlessly happy, actually, according to his interview with Men’s Health in November of last year. It’s surprising that someone fighting such a wide range of serious battles could stay so excited about life. Yet Fox remains a bright light and tireless advocate for Parkinson’s disease and recovery alike.
Fox first tried to cut back on his drinking in 1988 when he married his wife, Tracy Pollan. He hoped that his new marriage could keep him from turning back to the darkness of heavy drinking. But the bottle came back out only a few short years later.
In 1990, Fox noticed his pinky twitching uncontrollably one morning which led him to seek medical advice. After a range of doctor’s visits and tests, he finally received a diagnosis in 1991 from a neurologist in Manhattan: young-onset Parkinson’s. He was 29 years old.
Trying to grapple with that life-altering news eventually drove him back to heavy drinking. He did his best to hide the extent from Pollan, stashing bottles in spaces he hoped she wouldn’t find. Over the course of a few short months, he isolated himself from his family as his drinking quickly progressed.
Fox took his last drink after a night of drinking with his friends in 1992. He came home late, long after his wife had fallen asleep, and passed out on the couch in the living room with a beer in hand. He awoke to his wife and 3-year-old standing beside him the next morning, the beer spilled over the rug at her feet.
That beer was the last one that Fox ever had.
He got sober that day and started seeing a therapist immediately. That therapist helped him come to terms with his Parkinson’s diagnosis by using the same tools required for recovery: acceptance and surrender.
As Fox has learned over the years, acceptance is neither resignation nor giving up. It’s not quitting and throwing in the towel. It’s saying, “OK, I cede you the big points,” he explained in an interview with Good Morning America. “The tools that worked for quitting drinking work even better for [Parkinson’s].”
One incredibly challenging moment for Fox that threatened to crack his happy approach to life took place two years ago. He had undergone spinal surgery to remove a tumor that may have left him paralyzed. While walking down the hallway to the kitchen around 6:30 in the morning, he fell on his arm, leaving the bone shattered.