"I can start the [Michael J. Fox Foundation]," said Fox, after he became sober.
Michael J. Fox has opened up about his struggles with sobriety, and the illness for which he's become a tireless advocate—Parkinson's disease. He also discussed how one morning in 1990, he woke up and noticed his left pinkie twitching uncontrollably, and a year later, a Manhattan neurologist diagnosed him with young-onset Parkinson’s, reported PEOPLE.
After receiving the shocking news, Fox went home, led his wife, Tracy Pollan, to a quiet hallway, and gave her the news. They held each other and cried. “It’s a weird diagnosis,” Pollan told PEOPLE, “You’re not any different than you were yesterday. It’s kind of easy to forget because nothing’s changed.”
Fox tried to forget the diagnosis, and he did not even listen to his wife’s advice. “I took every job I could get,” shared Fox, 61. In an attempt to numb the pain, Fox, who had cut back on his drinking when the pair married in 1988, turned to alcohol again, hiding empty bottles from his wife. “I was isolating myself from my family,” said Fox.
He admitted to drinking heavily at that time, "and it was screwing up my relationships and screwing up my marriage and screwing up my work," he said.
And it did take a toll on their marriage. “It was scary because you just don’t know how it’s going to turn out,” said Pollan, 62. “You’re obviously not going to live like that for the rest of your life,” she added.
One night Fox passed out drunk on his sofa and when he woke up and saw his wife, “I did a slow scan up from her feet to her face, expecting to find her really angry,” Fox recalled. “She wasn’t. She was just bored.”
“Is this what you want?” Pollan said to him. “This is what you want to be?” Before he could answer, she walked out the door. That was his last drink. Fox got sober and began seeing a therapist, who helped him accept life with Parkinson’s.
“Acceptance isn’t resignation,” he said, describing the change in his thinking. “Now I can move on. I can start the [Michael J. Fox Foundation]. I can work with other patients. I can be with my family and allow them to worry about me,” he explained.
Fox told Men's Health in an interview, "There's the stuff you plan—the stuff you work towards ... And then there are things that just happen." He continued, "And the things that just happen are usually of a more intricate design and a higher purpose than whatever you come up with."
Now, after putting in the work to heal himself, “it’s very easy to be optimistic. This is my life,” said Fox. “What is there to complain about?”
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Frazer Harrison