Michael J. Fox has spent the latter half of his career preaching optimism. So, when he fell into a serious depression a few years ago, where was he to turn? To Michael J. Fox, of course.
It began in 2018 when surgeons partially excised a benign tumor that was wrapped around his spinal cord. As he recovered from the surgery, he had to relearn how to walk. He fell one afternoon and obliterated the bones in his left arm. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease but always keeps a positive outlook on life, said it was a bleak moment.
“I was lying on the floor in my kitchen with a shattered arm waiting for the ambulance to show up,” Fox told USA Today last year. “I kind of went, ‘What an idiot. All this time you’ve been telling everybody to be optimistic, chin-up, and you’re miserable now. There’s nothing but pain and regret. There’s no way to put a shine on this.'”
Fox said the road to recovery and the way “back to gratitude” took time and patience. He looked for peace in small things. He found some solace when he happened upon Back to the Future while channel surfing. But this time, he watched it the way the rest of us do.
“It’s amazing — more people, of all ages, approach me now about (Back to the Future) than ever before. I’m not sure I understood why,” he told AARP Magazine. “Then I came across it on TV last Christmas. And I thought I was really good in it, better than I thought I’d been. More importantly, I got the spirit of the movie. I understood it was just a big giggle and that we all need … to take credit for what we’ve done and the lives we’ve touched and to occasionally step back a bit and appreciate that much of life has been great and that there’s a lot more to live.”
Muhammad Ali Helped Michael J. Fox Watch His Old Movies, Shows
Doctors diagnosed Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s disease when he was only 29. The neurodegenerative disorder slowly destroys the sufferer’s movement, balance, and speaking abilities, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. The Back to the Future star used his celebrity to raise money for research and care agencies. He accepted his new normal, but he admits that he stopped watching any of his television shows or films from before he was diagnosed. It was too hard to see himself healthy.
When Muhammad Ali died, Fox was curious if the former heavyweight champion also had trouble seeing his “old” self. The two had become good friends through their shared disorder and their advocacy work.
“He’d been such a beautiful athlete before Parkinson’s,” Fox told the AARP Magazine. “So, after he died, I asked his wife, Lonnie, if he ever watched recordings of his fights. ‘He watched for hours,’ she said. ‘He loved it!’ And I thought, Yeah, I should love it, too. It’s a legacy, some graffiti that leaves a message of positivity.”